Hibachi is a word to refer to grilled Japanese-style cuisine and you can find this in restaurants like Benihana. In the United States, hibachi pertains to a tiny cooking stove that uses charcoal. But in Japan, this is known as shichirin. Some people also refer to hibachi as the use of an iron griddle in cooking food but in Japan this is known as teppan.
So what exactly is hibachi?
Hibachi means ‘fire bowl’. The original hibachi was invented during the Heian period and it’s believed to be an open-topped pot – often cylindrical. It was designed to keep a room warm. These traditional heating devices were as small as a vase but some were made into wooden tables to heat water and warm the hands. It wasn’t until the 1800s that the hibachi’s use extended to cooking food – grilling traditional Japanese treats to accompany tea.
What’s the difference between teppanyaki and hibachi?
Teppanyaki is another kind of Japanese grilling that utilizes a teppan – a flat griddle made of cast iron. Often, the chef or cook grills the food in front of the diners/guests. Aside from meats and veggies, it’s also used to cook rice and eggs.
Hibachi chefs recommend that when cooking, one must use a binchotan, this is a type of Japanese charcoal with a white color. This charcoal can stay lit for up to 5 hours and reused many times. The heat it produces is more stable than regular charcoal and it also does not give off a burnt odor. If binchotan is not available, briquettes will do.
Often, hibachi grills cook yakitori which means “grilled bird.” But basically hibachi grills are great for skewered chicken, using kushi, a skewer made of bamboo or steel.
Hibachi restaurants cook a wide array of food items, not just in skewers. Often you’ll find prawns, beef, fish, and veggies on the menu in addition to chicken.
What’s the hibachi sauce made of?
Also known as the yum yum sauce, this sauce is very popular in steakhouses although it didn’t actually get invented in Japan. It’s something made stateside and is considered a crucial element of hibachi restaurants in North America. The sauce is drizzled on noodles, veggies and fried rice. It’s also used as dipping sauce for sushi and shrimp. The ingredients for yum yum sauce include butter, paprika, rice vinegar, sugar, ketchup, mayo, onion powder and garlic powder.
Watch this impressive hibachi food prep: