If you think Japanese food is all about raw fish, you may be surprised that Yakiniku, or Japanese BBQ, is an essential and popular element of Japanese cuisine. On the other hand, if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to try one of these mouth-watering dishes, you’re probably longing to know how to make it yourself.
A Japanese BBQ grill may not be easiest or the cheapest thing to find in your local area, so knowing how to make it yourself is a handy skill to learn. You’ll be able to enjoy delicious Japanese BBQ meals, and share the results with your friends and family.
It’s also a skill that is not impossible to master with a little practice – read on to learn how.
How to Bring Japanese BBQ to your Home
Do you want to treat yourself to some scrumptious Japanese BBQ at home? Well, grab your ingredients and your Japanese BBQ grill and get ready. Here is how you can do it!
Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand before you can start making your Japanese BBQ.
1. Charcoal or Electric Grill
Unsurprisingly, the first thing you’ll need to make Japanese BBQ is a grill. There are many different types of Japanese BBQ grills, including both electric and charcoal grills.
When it comes to electric grills, your best bet is to get yourself a Japanese portable grill or a hibachi grill. This type of grill is smaller than most Western grills and is available at most kitchen and department stores these days.
Charcoal grills such as a Konro grill or a yakitori grill take a little more practice to use, but arguably deliver the best results. These grills use charcoal to BBQ your ingredients, providing a distinct smoky flavour.
After acquiring the right grill for your Japanese BBQ, you need to consider getting proper tools as well. Of course, the first thing you’ll need will be chopsticks. If you are a Japanese BBQ connoisseur, then you probably know that all grilling is done with the large chopsticks.
However, you should also consider buying a pair of metal tongs. Traditional chopsticks can quickly get charred and even burn, so metal tongs come in handy.
Additionally, if you are cooking vegetarian food and meats, it’s important to keep things separate and avoid cross-contamination with two different sets of tongs to flip them.
One of the best parts about Yakiniku is the ingredients. The ingredient list isn’t set in stone. You can get practically anything you want, and it will go well with your Japanese BBQ. However, it is good to at least know the rules before you break them.
The first thing you should buy is protein, most commonly beef or pork that is thinly sliced. Moreover, you need to pick meats that are not too lean. Some fat content will allow the meat to cook faster and stay moist, while lean meats can become too dry.
If you want a non-meat alternative you can also use a hard tofu.
You also need sauce. This is important because the meat is not marinated before cooking in Japanese BBQ. Instead, you dip your cooked meat in a Yakiniku sauce, usually made from soy sauce, sake, garlic, and sesame seeds. So, make sure you have the right dipping sauce to make your BBQ experience complete.
Lastly, make sure you shop for vegetables too. Veggies like mushrooms, cabbage, and carrot go well with meat and taste great with dipping sauce!
How to Cook Your Japanese BBQ
Now that you have everything you need for your Japanese BBQ, you can begin cooking. Continue reading for a step-by-step guide you can follow even if you have no prior experience with Japanese BBQ grilling.
Step 1: Prepare your ingredients
Before you start your Japanese BBQ grill, make sure you have all your ingredients ready to go. This involves washing and cutting your vegetables and proteins. Make sure they’re ready before you move on to the next step.
For Japanese BBQ, you should thinly slice your meat. Make sure to cut the meat including the fat in neat slices.
You should also prepare your sauces and plate them along with the rest of the ingredients. Be sure that all this is done before your grill is all fired up, as you don’t want to risk burning or overcooking your food because you’re distracted while trying to prepare other ingredients.
Step 2: Preheat your grill
The next thing you need to do is preheat your grill. If you are using an electric grill, it will not take too long before it is heated. Simply switch it on and wait for a few minutes for it to reach the required temperature. If using a charcoal or Yakitori grill, you may need to allow more time for it to heat up.
Generally, you’ll want your grill to heat up to around 200 C. Cooking at such high temperatures will ensure speedy cooking and lock in the flavour. This way, your food will be cooked properly and it will taste like authentic Yakiniku.
Step 3: Start cooking
The final step is to put your ingredients on the grill and get cooking. You can place them directly on the grill and let them cook for a few minutes on each side. Because the meat is so thinly sliced it won’t take long at all to cook.
Japanese BBQ is a shared style where everyone sits around the grill and eats as the food is cooked. So cook a couple of items at a time, dip them in sauce, and enjoy!
For the best experience, make sure everyone has their own metal tongs or cooking chopsticks. That way, you’ll be able to grab your own meat or veggies as soon as they’re perfectly cooked.
Ready to Get Started?
Learning how to make a Japanese BBQ at home will not only let you develop a cool new skill, but it’s also a great way to spend quality time with friends and family.
Keep practicing and experiment with different techniques and ingredients until you get it right, and most of all remember to have fun!
If you’re looking to hone your BBQ skills in all styles and become the ultimate grill master, our Cooking for Fire series is for you.