How to Make a Japanese Hibachi Dinner

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In Japan, a hibachi is a charcoal brazier used as often for heating rooms as for cooking. In the U.S., a hibachi can be a small charcoal grill popular with apartment dwellers and people with small yards, but the word is also used to refer to restaurant tables – correctly called teppanyaki – which have a hot top set in the center where a chef cooks for several parties. Cooking hibachi-style requires no special equipment because the basic principle is small bits of food cooked quickly over high heat.

Slice beef, pork or chicken thinly and bring it just to room temperature before cooking. Keep seafood refrigerated right up until you are ready to cook it, because fish and shellfish tend to develop bacteria more quickly.

Slice vegetables into very thin strips – called juliennes – that are all consistent in size and shape. Typical vegetables include onions, mushrooms, carrots, bok choy and bean sprouts. Cubed tofu is also often used.

Set out all of your ingredients within reach, including one serving of cooked rice or noodles per person.

Coat your cooking surface with olive oil or canola oil.

Heat the oiled cooking surface to high. This can be a large frying pan, wok or flat griddle.

Cook the vegetables first, tossing them with sesame oil and Asian seasonings as they cook. Seasonings can include garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and powdered seaweed as well as pre-mixed stir-fry seasoning. Push the vegetables to one side if your heat source is large enough. If it is not, you will need a second pan.

Cook your protein when your vegetables are 1 to 2 minutes away from being done. Season the protein and push it to one side, or remove it to serving plates.

Add a little sesame oil to the heat surface and add the cooked rice or noodles. Season them well with spices and soy sauce and heat them through. If you are making fried rice, you can add peas and corn to the rice as it cooks. Julienned spring onions and bean sprouts go well with noodles. Heat the rice and noodles using the stove or microwave if you are cooking on a hibachi grill.

Plate the protein, vegetables and rice or noodles, and provide soy sauce and chopsticks, or forks for anyone who prefers Western flatware.