~Japanese Teppanyaki~

Japanese cuisine is very much influenced by the seasonal change and geography. To the most of us Japanese food may seem somewhat bland and eccentric, but the freshness, balance of flavours and presentation of food as well as textures are of paramount significance. The Japanese cuisine is evidently very much different in many ways from other cuisines of the world when we take into consideration their cooking styles and methods, different kind of foods, their serving styles and presentations as well as how they perceive food and apart from all this, the portion size in Japanese cuisine is very small. They believe the less the portion the more satisfying a meal and that’s largely due to the fact that they take great pains in making sure food is beautifully presentated for a meal.

When I first heard of the dish Teppanyaki, I had no idea what it was. Being naive, I termed it as a part of Chinese Cuisine, which it is not, and I deemed that I will perhaps not fancy the dish much as I am a spice prone person because if it’s not flavoured enough, it’s just not for me. The first time I ate this dish was 13 years ago, in Karachi, in Pakistan at a fancy buffet restaurant. The whole dish was nothing like Teppanyaki, it was actually an Indian spiced version of Chinese stir-fry. Yes! that’s right, the Pakistani cuisine loves re-creating flavours of the world into their own food frame. I don’t blame them as Chinese or Japanese cuisines are a little bland for our taste. Nonetheless, a little tweek here and there and life is breathed into the dish. However, when I first had it, I loved it, ofcourse I didn’t know back then that it’s actually not Teppanyaki and for years I presumed it to be so.

When I got married, I came to London to settle. I started to study and made a friend from Japan. During lunch hour, one day, she opened up her lunch box and I saw these glazed grilled shrimps, soaking with juices, resting atop of a rice pile with vibrant veggies and to my astonishment a fried egg on top. I think that was the first time in my life I had actually seen a fried egg on top of a rice dish like that and the only other person I knew who eats a fried egg on top of anything was my hubzy. He loves his spicy noodles with fried egg. Anyway, it just captivated me. The only thing that was a turn off for me was that it had no spices in it other than salt and pepper; then again, when else would I use my love of spices to re-create. It was perfect. I came home and re-created the whole dish. Ofcourse, I didn’t completely tweek it because I wanted some authenticity in the recipe, but, I did add my Asian Twist to it. It was surprisingly pleasant, extremely light on the palate and not too heavy on the tummy.

In Japan, originally, this dish is made on a grill plate, served and eaten off of the grill plate, just as if you were to walk in a Japanese restaurant you will find a seating setting around a large grill plate with people eating off of it. It really is a unique dining experience, especially when the chef lights the food on fire, a huge puff of fire just swarms up, and leaves a smoky flavour to the food being served. I tell you this however, Japanese food is called Washuko meaning Food of Japan and the food of Japan encompasses some extremely unique and unusual ingredients e.g. Sushi, one of the main ingredients of which is sea-weed, grilled or cooked animal tongue is quite common as is eating an octopus and squid ink. I can not even fatham of how to use squid ink. My mind hits a wall because I don’t know how to work with it. I must say, Japanese cooking is perhaps the most eccentrically intriguing for me.

Coming to the recipe, name Teppanyaki is derived from two words; ‘Teppan’ which means ‘Iron Plate’ and ‘Yaki’ refers to something that is “grilled, broiled or pan-fry”. Teppanyaki is a Japanese dish wherein the meat is fried on an iron-griddle with Teppanyaki sauce and served with grilled vegetables in the same sauce with toasted sesame seeds and a fried egg placed alongside cooked rice to eat off of the iron-griddle plate. This is also cooked with seafood but if you are following my blog, you must know by now that I love my chicken meat, so I made this with stir-fried chicken.

s far as the spice is concerned, I have learned a few things evolving as a cook; one, just because a certain dish is not parallel to my traditional taste, doesn’t mean it’s bland, it just means, it is suppose to be that way and hence, recognizing the variety of flavours the gastronomical world has to offer, I am suppose to enjoy it in its authenticity of flavours. Second, it’s always okay to work your bits and bots, for that Umph of flavour, with the recipe because after all what doesn’t please your palate won’t satiate your hunger.

The vegetables that I have used in the recipe are my all-time hands down favourite combo; cabbage, carrot, capsicum, spring onion and green chillies; Add a little cumin to this and it’s absolute appetizing. I added a little bean sprouts to it as well which really added a Japanese touch to it. The meat is marinated in Light Soya Sauce along with honey, black pepper, brown sugar and a little flour. I added a pinch of red chilli flakes to notch up the spice a bit. The Asian Twist comes from the addition of cumin and red chilli flakes and makes the whole dish a little more brighter. Also, as always, when stir frying the vegetables add a pinch of sugar which helps retain the colour of the vegetables.

The fried egg on top is the crown of the dish. It’s true, “probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken” (M.F.K. Fisher) because once you poke that egg yolk open and it drizzles down the rest underneath, it brings together the whole dish in enticing flavours. The recipe is extremely simple in seasoning but with a burst of flavour, light and hearty.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients ~

1. Chicken Boneless — 900g

2. Rice — 2 cups

3. Cabbage — 2 cups

4. Spring Onion — 2

5. Carrots — 2

6. Garlic Cloves crushed — 2 tsp

7. Ginger crushed — 2 tsp

8. Capsicum — 1

9. Bean Sprouts — 1 cup

10. Oil — 3 tbsp

11. Sesame Oil — 1 tsp

12. Cumin — 1 tsp

13. Egg — 4

14. Green Chillies — 1

Teppanyaki Sauce

1. Salt — 1 tsp

2. Crushed Black Pepper — 2 tsp

3. Brown Sugar — 2 tsp

4. Honey — 4 tbsp

5. Soya Sauce — 8 tbsp

6. Flour — 4 tbsp

7. HP sauce — 1 tbsp

8. Red Chilli Flakes — 1 tsp

Method ~

1. Prep the Meal

a. In a bowl, combine all the Teppanyaki Sauce ingredients and add in the chicken. Let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.

b. Boil the rice until cooked.

c. Dice the cabbage, capsicum, carrots and spring onion into thin strips.

d. Chop the ginger and garlic finely.

2. Prepare the chicken

a. In a deep skillet, heat up the oil with the sesame oil and add the chopped ginger and garlic to it. Sizzle it for a minute to release the flavour.

b. Add the chicken with the marinade and cook until the chicken is golden brown in colour and completely cooked through with a little sauce left in the pan.

3. Prepare the vegetables

a. In a fry pan, heat up a little oil and add cumin to it and cook it for one minute.

b. Add all the diced vegetables i.e. cabbage, capsicum, carrot, spring onion, green chillies and bean sprouts. Add salt, pepper to taste and a pinch of sugar and cook on high heat until all the vegetables have become soft. Do not over cook the vegetables, cook enough to retain their colour and crunch.

c. Add the fried vegetables to the chicken and mix together.

d. Fry the egg and keep it aside.

4. Assembling

a. In a plate add rice and add the teppanyaki chicken over it.

b. Top the serving with a fried egg, per serving.

~ Happy Foodieating ~

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