Grilling started after the domestication of fire around 500,000 years ago. This is a process of cooking food using a significant amount of direct dry heat that is usually situated below or above. This process is commonly used to cook vegetables and meat.
Grilling is popular in several places all over the world, such as Asia, Germany, South America, Sweden, UK, and USA.
There are many methods of grilling; these include gridironing, stove-top pan grilling, charbroiling, overhead grilling, two-sided grilling, whole grilling, and flattop grilling. In this article, flattop grilling will be discussed in depth.
Grilled food can be prepared using a flat pan or flattop grill, which is also known as plancha or teppanyaki grill. When cooking food, oil or butter can be applied over the pan or grill.
A flattop grill uses a heating technology that produces extreme heat that spreads through the surface in a radial manner.
This cooking device offers a unique sort of crust and sear, which you can’t obtain with straight grilling. This is also a choice for many seafood restaurants since it can be conveniently set to a consistent and flexible temperature.
I tell this all the time in my articles and my absolute favorite is the Andrew James Grill. There are lot’s of others you could look at of course. I just like the versatility of it.
I just moved to America though, and realised that it wasn’t available over here, so I looked at this one on Amazon which is very very similar and has some great reviews as well if you’re looking to get into flattop grilling yourself.
The plancha grills are just a little bit different from the teppanyaki style ones that I mostly use:
|Type of grill||Characteristics||Top choice|
|Teppanyaki||Usually a flat top grill with a higher back drop||Teppanyaki grill on Amazon|
|Plancha||Completely flat with side handles for picking it up and carrying||Plancha grill on Amazon|
So the differences are minute, and often people use these two as synonyms. A Plancha grill came from Spain, the teppanyaki one from Japan. But they have similar cooking styles.
Here’s Camp Chef explaining how to grill on a flat top griddle:
Where’s Plancha from?
Flattop grills were first introduced in Spain, which the term plancha was derived. Plancha is a Spanish word, which means “metal plate.” Cuisines that are cooked a la plancha refer to foods that are grilled using a metal plate.
For instance, grilled beef fillets are known as “filetes à la plancha” in Spanish. Planchas are plated with chrome to prevent the food from reacting with the metal, which can create a subtle flavor to the food.
And what about Teppanyaki?
As regards the term teppanyaki, this word comes from the Japanese words “teppan,” which means iron plate, and “yaki”, meaning broiled, pan-fried, or grilled.
Teppanyaki is a Japanese-style cuisine that utilizes a flattop grill or metal griddle, known as teppan, to prepare food. This style of cooking was first introduced by Shigeji Fujioka of Misono, a Japanese chain restaurant.
Japanese teppanyaki cuisines include yakisoba or cabbage with seafood or meat that is cooked using animal fat or vegetable oil or both. These cuisines became popular not only in Japan, but these have also influenced the Western society.
Some ingredients that are used in Western-style teppanyaki include mixed veggies, beef, shrimps, scallops, chicken, and lobsters, which are commonly cooked using soybean oil.
Thus, those are the reasons why both the terms teppanyaki and plancha are highly associated with flat pan or flattop grill. These terms are commonly used interchangeably in a sentence.
The Versatility of Plancha or Teppanyaki Grill
Apart from grilling, a plancha or teppanyaki grill is a flexible cooking device that can also be used in other various cooking techniques as follows. Take note that pans or pots can be placed directly over the cooking surface of the grill.
- Sautéing – This refers to “tossing while cooking.” This method involves the use of a little amount of oil or fat applied to an extremely heated pan or flattop grill.
- Toasting – This is a method of browning bread through the use of radiant heat. The brown color of the bread is a result of the Maillard reaction that makes it firmer and palatable.
- Simmering – This technique utilizes hot liquids (below water boiling point) to cook food. Simmering is a gentler method than boiling, thereby avoiding the breaking up or toughening of food.
- Shallow frying – This method is usually utilized to cook small-sized cuts of meat, fish, vegetables, or patties. The food is partly submerged in oil.
- Stir frying – This is a Chinese cooking technique that involves the use of a small amount of hot oil. The ingredients are being stirred in a round-bottomed cooking vessel known as wok.
- Pan frying – This technique uses a little amount of oil, which is much lesser than the oil or fat used in shallow frying. The oil is only used to lubricate the pan.
- Browning – This process refers to the initial cooking of the meat surface for the purpose of eliminating excess fat. This will give the meat a brown color flavor and crust.
- Blackening – Popularized by Chef Paul Prudhomee, this method is used in preparing Cajun cuisines. The food is then soaked in a mixture of spices and herbs and melted butter. It is then cooked in a very hot cast-iron frypan.
Those are some of the cooking methods wherein you can use the teppanyaki or plancha grill. Because of its versatility, you can cook almost any food on this appliance.
How to Care for Your Plancha Grill
Just like any other appliances, you also need to care for your grill to maintain its efficiency and durability. So here are some of the ways that you can do to keep your grill clean and in good condition:
1. Prior to utilizing your new grill, it is best to clean it with warm soapy water. You can also use a plastic scrubber or brush to eliminate any dirt or factory grease.
2. Dry thoroughly. Then evenly wipe the two sides with shortening or vegetable oil.
3. Set up your plancha for indirect grilling or set it up in a 300-degree oven till the oil is absorbed by the plancha metal pores. Do this for 30 to 60 minutes.
4. Let it cool and wipe with paper towels. Then you can now use your plancha grill.
5. Similar to other cooking devices, it is also essential to thoroughly clean your plancha after using it. Splash a cup of water over the cooking surface while the plancha is still hot. As the water evaporates, brush your grill. Repeat this process as needed until the plancha is thoroughly clean.
6. Then, sprinkle 12 tablespoons of vegetable oil on the plancha while it is still hot. Wipe it using a folded paper well attached to the end of your tongs.
7. Keep your plancha on a dry surface. Repeat the above steps as necessary.
You can also use these grill stones to care for your teppanyaki grill just as you would with a normal grill.
Also read: the best instant dashi you can buy
What is a plancha used for?
A plancha is a flat iron surface which is used in Spanish cuisine to grill vegetables, seafood and meat on very high temperatures. It provides an easy flat surface to toss around the grilled food so each side receives equal heat.
What is a la plancha cooking?
The plancha is a Spanish flat iron grill surface, so “a la plancha” cooking means: “cooking on a flat iron grill” or more literally “cooked in the flat iron grill style”. Recipes that are a la Plancha are grilled on a round flat metal surface.
What is an electric plancha?
An electric plancha grill is a standalone cooking device where the round metal surface is heated through electricity. Plancha comes from “round flat cooking surface” and is usually used on a stovetop. The electric version is used separate from the stovetop and you need to plug it in to be able to use it.
What is a plancha burger?
Plancha refers to the style of cooking used to prepare the burger. Instead of being grilled on a grill rack, it is grilled on a flat iron surface on top of a heat source, most often charcoal flames. Because of using the flat surface the burger can be losely packed and the juices are preserved inside the meat better.
What is salmon a la plancha?
Salmon prepared on a round flattop grill instead of a grill rack is called “salmon a la plancha”, where plancha is the flat grilling surface. The plancha is Spanish so salmon a la plancha is best prepared in a Spanish style with parsley, dill, coriander, chives and lemon zest.
Flattop grill, also called plancha or teppanyaki grill, is well known in many places around the world. This cooking device can be used to cook a wide variety of food and ingredients because of its capacity to be set flexible and constant temperature.