I love teppanyaki, but I don't eat it often in the States. When I was living in Taiwan, it was kind of like the equivalent of diner food in America: cheap, greasy, delicious, and a perfect meal after a late night at the bar. I could have a real teppanyaki dinner for less than US$6.
In the US, however, teppanyaki dining is more like dinner and a show, and you pay extra for the entertainment. The food is good and the chefs have skills and showmanship, but I could never get excited about paying $30 a head to have someone throw chunks of steak at my face.
Being able to make it at home is the perfect compromise. It's inexpensive and the ingredients should be familiar to most Westerners, even those who haven't cooked Japanese food before.
I did make four dipping sauces, and they were all very easy to make. However, if you’re crunched for time or don't want to make the extra effort, you can certainly purchase pre-made sauces. I made spicy mayo, yum yum sauce, a sesame-soy dipping sauce, and a ginger-soy dipping sauce. A Thai peanut sauce, gyoza sauce, ponzu, shabu shabu sesame sauce, and teriyaki sauce would also have been excellent, and they are all easy to find at a nice grocery store, the local Asian market, or online.
Dipping sauces. Clockwise from the top left: spicy mayonnaise, sesame soy dipping sauce, ginger soy dipping sauce, and yum yum sauce.
I also prepared fried rice for this meal. Typically, teppanyaki chefs can prepare fried rice right on the grill, but I felt like we wouldn't have enough room for all that excitement on our raclette grill. Also, we used the grilling surface of the cast-iron top, and grains of rice simply would have gotten stuck between the ridges. I plan on trying to make teppanyaki at home again and using the griddle side of the raclette grill to see if it makes any difference. I wouldn't really use the marble top because I would be afraid of the oil spreading beyond the edges, but I might be wrong about that.
Here's what we learned from making teppanyaki on the raclette grill:
Note that next time we make teppanyaki on the raclette grill, I will cut the pieces smaller than what you see in our pictures now. They cooked up easily enough, but were just too thick to eat politely with chopsticks.
We served dessert tempura after our meal. It was almost too much, but we powered through and at some battered-and-fried fruit dipped in chocolate fondue just so we could report our findings back to you: it was awesome. If you aren't making dessert tempura tonight, you aren't really living.
food + friends = happy belly, happy heart
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Some of my favorite online stores might have just what you need for your next tabletop meal!
Asian Food Grocer has a great selection of essential ingredients and many hard-to-find items.
Cilantro Cook Shop has a great selection of quality raclette and fondue sets.
For The Gourmet has an amazing selection of cheeses and chocolates.
Sephra specializes in chocolate, caramel and fruit fondues... and fountains.