The word "hibachi" refers to both a type of grill and to the Japanese-style dish commonly prepared on it, while "teriyaki" refers only to the style of dish. Hibachi and teriyaki dishes are very similar, and differ only in the type of sauce used while cooking; each can be prepared simply at home.
The Japanese word "hibachi" translates into English as "fire pot." A traditional Japanese hibachi is a heater, a wooden or ceramic container lined with metal in which charcoal or wood is burned. They are either portable or built into furniture, and are often highly decorative. In America, the word "hibachi" has been adapted to refer to a small, portable, open-hearth style of grill. Hibachis can be charcoal or electric, and they come with the choice of ridged grill plates or flat-iron type plates for versatility in cooking.
Hibachi Cooking Tips
A variety of foods can be cooked on a hibachi, from pancakes and sausage to sandwiches, burritos, and kabobs. For best results, put your prepped food items on a preheated grill. Set a timer for half of the lowest approximate cooking time and cook undisturbed. Halfway through the cooking time, turn food and reset the timer. For hibachis with lids, cover at this halfway mark.
Check the internal temperature of meat at the end of the cooking time. If it needs to reach the recommended temperature, continue cooking at 1-minute intervals until fully cooked.
Make Japanese hibachi-style dishes at home with four basic ingredients: thinly-sliced or bite-sized pieces of meat, seafood, or poultry, sliced or julienned, vegetables such as zucchini, onion, and mushrooms, cooked rice, and soy sauce. Ginger is often used as a seasoning.
To cook a hibachi-style dish, preheat the hibachi to high. On one side of the grill, spread the prepped vegetables in hot vegetable oil. While those are cooking, dip the meat, seafood, or poultry into soy sauce and cook very quickly on the other side of the grill. Serve with hot rice and soy sauce.
The word "teriyaki" translates as "glossy grilled." Japanese teriyaki sauce is a light, thin glaze made of soy sauce, sake, and mirin with sugar and optional spices added. A traditional teriyaki-style dish consists of marinated fish or poultry cut into bite-sized pieces, skewered, and grilled. The meat is brushed with teriyaki sauce as it cooks, giving the meat a shiny glaze.
Cook teriyaki-style dishes in the same way as hibachi-style dishes. The only difference is the sauce; hibachi dishes are cooked only in soy sauce, while teriyaki dishes are cooked in a sweeter, seasoned, soy sauce-based sauce.
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Maggie Daniel has been writing on food, home, parenting, nature and travel for regional publications since 1999. She holds a B.A. in communications and environmental science from California State University, Monterey Bay.