Adventures in Bachelor Cookery, part 8: The Domestic Teppan?
By davew on Jun 09, 2006
While I'm more than happy with my wok, I've always looked with considerable admiration on (and enjoyed the food prepared by) Oriental cooks who manage to do the whole slice-and-dice-and-fry thing of a huge range of ingredients on a Teppan. A good teppan-fried yaki udon is, in my humble opinion, one of the finest dishes known to Man.
So, I figured I'd see what I could do in terms of preparing and cooking on a Teppan at home.
I own a reasonable gas-fired barbecue; this has a hexagonally-pierced plate of cast iron below which are a bunch of stones intended to replicate the reflux behaviour of charcoal briquettes, and also a flat cast-iron plate which sits next to it, on which folk are supposed to cook veg or other things which do not require reflux of meat juices.
A proper Teppan is a flat (or very slightly concave) cast iron or stainless steel plate.
So, I put two and two together.
I picked up the flat cast iron plate from my barbecue, brought it into my kitchen, and planted it down on my hob over the two largest gas burners (the plate being maybe 1 by 2 feet in size). I then went to Tesco, and bought a selection of veg and a pre-cooked seafood cocktail of prawns, mussels and calamari.
I finely chopped the veg in the Magimix (noting with particular appreciation the amount of mayhem it can unleash on carrots when the julienne slicing blade is fitted), and cranked the intensity of the burners underneath the homebrew Teppan up to maximum. I prefer my veg crunchy, so the seafood went on first for maybe 3 minutes - shortly to be followed by a pack of Amoy Singapore Noodles (which I had found in Tesco by accident - suffice to say, I happen to be particularly fond of Singapore noodles). This got chopped, stirred, and generally thrown around with wild abandon until it was time to chuck the veg on. A good splash of Soy and Mirin got thrown on for good measure, too.
A few minutes of fun with spatulas later, and dinner was done. For once, it came out very well first time, although I suspect the simplicitly of the "non-recipe" and the ready availability of many of the ingredients in a ready-prepped state saved my bacon. For the record, I usually manage to get things to taste good the second time I try to make them :-).
About the only problem I had was that a proper Teppan is large, and the plate from my barbecue was perhaps a bit small for the purpose; I did have quite a bit of trouble with "losing food over the edge".
Actually, divvying up was also a bit of a hassle; tipping a wok-ful of dinner onto a plate is a lot easier than picking piles of dinner up off a Teppan with spatulas and dumping them on the plate that way.
It might be time to invest in a medium sheet of stainless steel and some very thick gloves...