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.
Teriyaki dipping sauces
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:
- Cook the rice first. You can fry it up or serve it straight out of the rice cooker, but it will give your guests something to eat while the first round of food is cooking.
- Cut all the meat into bite-sized pieces. Typically, the steak is seared, then cut into cubes and cooked again, with a lot of fanfare. We cut it into short, thick strips that were easier to work with on the tabletop grill, but still ended up being too big to eat with chopsticks without looking like a dinosaur.
- Marinate the pieces of steak in vegetable oil or a peanut oil blend with lots of garlic before cooking. Teppanyaki cooking doesn’t call for lots of fancy, intense flavors, but the oil and garlic will really enhance the beef. You can grill the garlic, too, but don’t let it burn.
At least 8 ounces total per person of assorted proteins, usually beef, chicken, and shrimp and/or tofu, sliced thin
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.
- Assorted vegetables, usually onions, eggplant, bell peppers, mushrooms and mung bean sprouts
- As much garlic as you want to eat
- Peanut oil or vegetable oil
- Soy sauce
- 1 cup cooked rice or fried rice per guest
- Cut the beef into bite-sized cubes that can easily be handled with chopsticks. Put the beef into a container with a lid and pour in just enough oil that each piece is covered, but not submerged. Add a handful of raw, peeled garlic cloves to the bag and let the meat marinate for at least an hour before cooking.
- Cut the chicken into small cubes or thin strips and store in the fridge until it’s time to cook.
If you’re cooking tofu, dry and cube the tofu and store it in the fridge as well.
- Cook or heat up the rice. Make sure it’s going to be done just about the time you’re ready to start cooking the teppanyaki so you don’t end up serving your guests cold rice.
- Peel and devein the shrimp if necessary, and store them in the fridge until it’s time to cook.
- On a clean surface with a clean knife that hasn’t been contaminated with raw meat, chop the onion into thick slices that can be grilled and flipped like a pancake.
- Rinse the bean sprouts in a colander. Let them drip dry or pat them dry with a towel. Remove the stems from the mushrooms. They’ll be cooked and turned over like little pancakes, too. Chop the eggplants, bell peppers into bite-sized pieces that are easy to handle with chopsticks.
- Put the meat and vegetables on platters on the table for your guests. Distribute the sauces around the table. Serve each person a bowl of rice which they can eat while the first round of food is cooking.
- Fire up the raclette grill. Preheat it to high and oil the surface before cooking. Once it’s hot, put a few pieces of steak and chicken on the grill. Don’t let the garlic burn! The chicken will cook faster than the steak, but the steak only needs to be cooked to your desired level of doneness. Cook the onions, mushrooms, and peppers, adding oil, soy sauce, or sake to taste. If you have a dome lid, use it to cover the vegetables and let them steam a little to cook faster. Don’t burn your hands when removing the lid from the grill.
- Everyone cooks and eats until they’re full. Usually, the bean sprouts are cooked at the end to absorb the last of the oil and flavors from the other foods.
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.