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Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki
Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki

Teppanyaki is a modern Japanese way of cooking where ingredients such as meat, fish and vegetables are prepared on a hot grill plate. In restaurants, the chef stands directly in front of his customers, who sit at a kind of bar around the grill plate. 

What is teppanyaki?

Teppanyaki (pronounced ‘tep-pan-jak-kie’) is a modern Japanese way of cooking; ingredients like meat, fish and vegetables are prepared on a hot grill plate. In restaurants, the chef stands in front of the customers who sit at a kind of bar around the grill plate. Teppanyaki literally means ‘grilling on an iron plate’. 

It is thought that the Japanese have been preparing their food at home in the teppanyaki way, on a small grill, for about two hundred years. Teppanyaki only made the move to restaurants a hundred years later when it transformed from simple grilling to a cooking performance. 

In the 1960s, Hiroaki ‘Rocky’ Aoki, the so-called father of teppanyaki, took the concept to America. His four-table restaurant in New York grew into a worldwide chain of more than seventy restaurants called Benihana. Benihana has European branches in the UK, Poland, Slovakia and Romania.

East versus west

On a Japanese teppanyaki griddle dishes such as noodles (yakisoba), okonomiyaki and high quality Kobe beef are common. The Western grill plate is also home to prawns, chicken and vegetables.

In teppanyaki restaurants outside Japan you sometimes get a whole show. Teppanyaki chefs throw eggs, aim pieces of meat into the open mouths of waiters or flambé the ingredients with showy flames.

Teppanyaki can be adapted for the home using a stone grill and a gourmet pan. Some butchers and supermarkets sell teppanyaki dishes that you can use at home to get started with this cooking method.

Did you know?

Japanese chefs prepare whole meals on the grill plate. For example, miso soup and rice can be cooked in pans and vegetables can be steamed in special heat-resistant plastic bags.

How to make teppanyaki?

Meat, fish, seafood and vegetables are cleaned, pre-cut and prepared. The chef then cooks the desired dishes on the grill plate in front of the customers: grilled steak, for example, a mixed dish with meat or fish, and vegetable dishes.

Because the grill plate is very hot, sometimes as high as 400°C, the teppanyaki ingredients are immediately cauterised. The food is only slightly flavoured, with shoyu (soy sauce), vinegar, salt and pepper, and sometimes garlic, so the taste of the ingredient itself shines through. A good teppanyaki stands or falls with the quality and freshness of the ingredients.

The term teppanyaki can also indicate, for example in takeaways, that the food is prepared in teppanyaki style, i.e. on the grill plate. Unfortunately, when you want a teppanyaki lamb chop at home, a Japanese chef doesn’t come along to prepare the dish in your kitchen!

How to eat

Eat teppanyaki with chopsticks and eat every bite as a whole – don’t bite pieces off. Put the chopsticks down between the bites, or when talking to a tablemate, rest them on the support, the hashioki. It’s rude to hold them in your hand when you’re talking and you shouldn’t point using your chopsticks. 

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Teppanyaki