Griddle cooking usually brings up images of a short order cook frying hamburgers, right? Teppanyaki is Japanese griddle cooking and it’s a lot more than hamburgers. Characterized by fresh ingredients in bite sized portions, teppanyaki is a communal way of dining with friends and family because you eat while everyone cooks their own portion on a centrally placed hot griddle.
Even at a restaurant where the chef is doing the cooking and doing tricks with his spatulas and building “volcanoes” with a tower of onions, guests are seated with complete strangers and everyone has a good time. Diners wait while the teppanyaki chef juggles pepper shakers, flips shrimp pieces into the air, and deftly slices cubes of steak with astonishing speed.
Typical ingredients are cabbage, bean sprouts, onions, bell peppers, shrimp, chicken, steak meat and sausage. Dipping sauces are used for flavoring sometimes, but these little mouthfuls can also be enjoyed with very light seasoning that serve to enhance the original flavors of the ingredients.
In the home environment, your electric griddle can replicate the teppanyaki experience. You don’t need to juggle knives to entertain your guests. They will entertain themselves just by being able to cook their own dinners on the tabletop griddle. Other typical dishes cooked on the griddle are okonomiyaki and yakisoba, two classic favorites that everyone enjoys making because there really is no wrong way to cook them.
Okonomiyaki is a mix of meat, vegetables and batter, in a savory pancake meets pizza kind of dish; while yakisoba is a distinctively Japanese chow mein. Both dishes require the cook to personalize his/her cooking method by the choice of ingredients, order of frying, and use of cooking utensils. No wonder it’s more fun than frying a hamburger! If you ever get the chance, try “iron plate cooking” at home–you’ll feel like an iron chef.