From ‘Japan – The Cookbook’, the new book from Phaidon by Nancy Singleton Hachisu with over 400 simple elegant authentic recipes including soups, noodles, rices, pickles, one-pots, sweets, and vegetables. This teppan-yaki recipe is an excellent example of a dish that we think we know well but is actually more complex in flavour while still being easy to cook at home. ‘This is a fun, communal cooking affair that tends to create a lot of smoke’, says the author, ‘so be sure to open the windows if cooking this indoors. Give each person a small plate for their meat and vegetables, a small saucer for ponzu to dip, and a bowl of rice.’
300g Japanese eggplants (aubergines), stem ends removed
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
145g piman or small green peppers, cut into quarters or sixths (depending on the size of the pepper)
12 shiitake, stems discarded
300g green cabbage, cut crosswise into ½ inch (12 mm) thick slices
500g slightly marbled beef sirloin steak, cut crosswise into slices ¼ inch (6 mm) thick
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon gold sesame oil
Ponzu sauce, for serving
Japanese Rice for serving
1. Trim the curved sides off both sides of the eggplant (aubergine) lengthwise (to facilitate making slices without surface skin). Cut the eggplant lengthwise into slabs ½ inch (12 mm) thick. Toss with the salt in a medium bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove from the bowl, shake off any adhering salt crystals, and blot off excess moisture with absorbent paper towels.
2. Mound the eggplant, piman [Japanese green pepper], shiitake, and cabbage on a large platter. Arrange the sliced steak on a dinner plate. Bring the vegetables, meat, and ponzu to the table. Set a cast-iron teppan-yaki* or grill pan on a portable tabletop burner and heat over low for 5 minutes.
3. Spread a ½ tablespoon each of the rapeseed and sesame oil on the pan, adjust the heat to medium-high, and drop a handful of each vegetable on the pan, keeping them separate. Using saibashi [cooking chopsticks]or tongs, turn the vegetables after about 2 minutes. Let them sizzle for about 1 minute longer before laying several meat pieces directly on the pan surface (rather than over some vegetables). If the vegetables are almost ready, move to the edges of the pan away from direct heat. Each person should cook the meat seconds on each side, depending on desired doneness, and serve him or herself some vegetables along with the meat. Dip, but don’t drench, the cooked ingredients in the ponzu sauce before eating. Serve with rice.
* You’ll often find a non-stick teppan-yaki grill plate that can be used instead of a grill pan or even an electric teppan-yaki grill in Aldi or Lidl – keep an eye out in the catalogue.
• You’ll find Japanese rice in the Asian grocery stores.
MORE RECIPES FROM JAPAN – THE COOKBOOK
Japan – The Cookbook: Ramen
Japan – The Cookbook: Asparagus with Sesame-Vinegar DressingJapanese Soy Dipping Sauce
WHERE TO BUY JAPAN BY NANCY SINGLETON HACHISU
You’ll find Japan at the Phaidon Book Store and at Amazon and other good book shops.