At a hibachi restaurant, flashy knife tossing, sizzling sauces and big grill drama entertain and entice diners to savor uncommon flavors and foods. The teppanyaki method of cooking, in which a chef theatrically grills a meal as diners gather around, may be adapted at home to win over picky eaters. Bright colors, bold seasonings, a handy kitchen appliance and a sense of fun are key ingredients in making hibachi vegetables.
Set up a large electric frying pan or griddle on the table to emulate a restaurant-style hibachi grill. Alternatively, set the cooking appliance on a counter where diners can watch the cooking process.
Cut the vegetables in advance and arrange them on a platter. Set individual stacks of bright orange carrot slices next to deep green broccoli florets and red bell pepper pieces next to a pile of snow pea pods, for example, to create a vivid visual display.
Set small glass bowls or ramekins with seasonings, cooking sauces and garnishes on a separate platter. Place a mixture of one part sesame oil and two parts vegetable oil in one of the bowls. Individual small bowls may contain minced garlic, dried pepper flakes, soy sauce, grated fresh ginger, hoisin sauce, plum jelly, chili paste, sesame seeds or other ingredients that suit your taste.
Organize your work station just before it's time to serve the meal featuring hibachi vegetables. The platter of vegetables, the bowls of seasoning and sauces and a flat spatula are the props for this cooking performance and need to be at your fingertips.
Turn the electric frying pan on to a medium high setting. Lift the small bowl containing oil and drizzle the liquid over the pan's surface. Use exaggerated wrist motions and flourishes to signal diners that the hibachi vegetable experience has begun.
Set one type of vegetable carefully in the hot oil to prevent splattering. Wield the spatula in circular and zig-zag patterns above the pan, then turn the vegetable pieces over before they begin to brown.
Add another type of vegetable -- this time with more flair – then another and another until all the vegetables are in the pan. Pause for emphasis between each addition, cutting the air with the spatula, twirling it between your palms and putting on a show.
Turn the vegetables at least once every minute, between entertaining gestures. Adjust the electric frying pan's heat setting up or down as necessary to maintain a light sizzle.
Add seasonings from the small bowls, one at a time, and mix them into the vegetables until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Reserve one liquid flavoring, such as soy sauce, rice wine vinegar or lemon juice, to add at the last minute.
Turn the heat to a high setting for the last minute of cooking, when at least half of the vegetable pieces have cooked to a light golden-brown color. Pour the single reserved liquid flavoring over the pan with a flourish, causing a final grand burst of sizzling. Turn the heat off and serve the hibachi vegetables immediately.
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- Experiment with seasoning combinations to keep your cooking repertoire fresh and interesting. A simple hibachi vegetable dish may include only the familiar flavor of soy sauce and a small bowl of chopped chives for garnish. Develop more complex flavor layers with the addition of sweet and aromatic sauces and spices.
- Cut round-shaped vegetables, such as carrots, zucchini and green onions, at an angle to increase visual appeal.
- Ensure that the electric cord and extension cord, if that is necessary, for the frying pan or griddle are secure and out of the way, preventing a tip-over or spill accident while you actively prepare the hibachi vegetables.
Denise Schoonhoven has worked in the fields of acoustics, biomedical products, electric cable heating and marketing communications. She studied at Newbold College and Middlesex Polytechnic in the UK, and Walla Walla University. A writer since 2008, Schoonhoven is a seasoned business traveler, solo tourist, gardener and home renovator.
Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media