The hissing of food coming into contact with an iron pan is one of the most common noises in Japanese cuisine. Teppanyaki is a Japanese style of cooking based on grilling on a hot iron griddle. With the necessary tools and equipment it is even possible to organize a teppanyaki party in the comfort of your own home.
What is Teppanyaki?
The main characteristics of teppanyaki are light spices and fresh ingredients. This is because teppanyaki aims to enhance the original flavors of the ingredients instead of covering them. The spices are usually limited to soy sauce, wine, vinegar and salt and pepper. Garlic is used generously in the preparation of bean sprouts, meat and chicken.
Another essential part of teppanyaki meals is beef. This meat comes from different geographic areas and is of quite variable quality. The more expensive types of Japanese beef come from Matsusaka, Akita, and Kobe. This top-quality meat comes from cows that have been fed apples and beer and that have been stripped of all stress by music and massage.
Origin of Teppanyaki
Teppanyaki is a traditional Japanese cooking method that uses an iron baking tray to fry food. The literal translation of teppanyaki is’ iron plate (Teppan) ‘grilled’ (yaki).
The true origin of teppanyaki is still a mystery. Some believe it first started 200 years ago when families would prepare food together on small grills. Other sources suggest that teppanyaki cooking began in the early 20th century in the southern Japanese port city of Kobe. where fresh fish and seafood were displayed and cooked for the customers. Whatever its true origin, teppanyaki is known and loved all over the world.
The Japanese teppanyaki restaurant chain ‘Misono’ first discovered the commercial potential of teppanyaki cooking in 1945. ‘Misono’ became world famous when local chefs combined cooking with entertainment such as juggling food and spices and creating ‘flaming onion volcanoes’ a popular dish in many teppanyaki restaurants today.
North America was the first country outside of Japan to try the new teppanyaki style. Renowned Japanese wrestler Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki opened the first ‘Benihana’ teppanyaki restaurant in New York City in 1954 to critical acclaim. Critics said they had never enjoyed Japanese food so much before, while at the same time enjoying juggling, joke-tapping chefs. Currently, there are over 80 Benihana teppanyaki restaurants around the world and millions of people have already enjoyed the teppanyaki experience.
Teppanyaki at home
The first time you use a teppanyaki baking tray, it is important to heat it to 120 degrees so that the protective coatings applied in the factory after installation come off. When the coating melts, take off the baking sheet and clean the surface with a commercial cleaner. Just before cooking, season the teppanyaki baking tray surface. Then heat the baking tray to 150 degrees Celsius and rub 30 ml of vegetable oil per 30cm of the baking tray surface with a soft cloth into the work surface of the teppanyaki. This closes the surface and prevents ingredients from sticking. Wipe off the excess fat and repeat the procedure until the entire cooking surface is shiny. Heat the baking tray 10min before cooking and while cutting the ingredients. Be careful not to cut on the teppanyaki surface. Then place the food on the preheated surface. Prepare the food as you would on a baking tray but stir constantly. After cooking, rub the steel teppanyaki surface with a scraper to remove food residues. Clean the surface with the commercial surface cleaner and rinse well. Rub a thin layer of vegetable oil on the surface of the teppanyaki to prevent rusting when not in use.
Benefits of teppanyaki
Because they cook on a high heat and with just a dash of oil, teppanyaki meals contain relatively little fat and are not too heavy on the stomach. Portions are small but sufficient. Moreover, when ordering teppanyaki at a restaurant, you can tell the chef exactly how you want your dish prepared. This makes it possible to determine the variety and amount of herbs and oil per dish according to your own taste. Moreover, opting for the quality of the teppanyaki ingredients is a healthy choice.