Day 19: Teppanyaki
You may have heard of ‘teppanyaki’ before because many years after it became popular in Japan, it became trendy in the Western world.
The word refers to a style of cuisine where the food is prepared and cooked on a large heated iron plate.
A little while ago, Western restaurants decided to put that large iron plate right in front of the customers and it became a novelty to watch a chef at work while you felt the heat on your cheeks.
In more traditional Japanese restaurants, the food is often cooked elsewhere but each table will have a large hot iron plate where the meal can stay warm and continues to cook slightly (which allows the customer to control how long it stays on the burner).
Because of the way the food is cooked directly on hot metal, there are limitations to what can be prepared.
Generally these are not tricky recipes but clever combinations of tastes that can be easily grilled in one go. Small bits of meat, chopped vegetables, noodles and eggs are some of the most common types of teppanyaki.
I am cheating a little by including this in the food series because ‘teppanyaki’ refers purely to a way of cooking something and all types of food could potentially fall into this category.
For instance, okonomiyaki, which I’ve already covered, is cooked using the teppanyaki method.
But I’ve put it in because I had something new at one of the restaurants. This was a small local place in Osaka that seemed popular with the after work crowd.
It sounds simple but the dish it was a combination of bits of pork with kimchi, or vinegared cabbage. It was cooked by the chef on his main grill and then brought to my table on a plate and deposited onto my grill. I was then able to eat it straight off the hot plate or put it into my normal plate if I wanted it cooked for less time.
It wasn’t enough for a whole meal and was just a part of what I ate for dinner. It cost 500 yen (US$5.05) and was delicious.