Konnichi wa / Great Outdoors
Yakiniku: Japan's Favorite BBQ
Japan is known for its great food, and yakiniku is one of the most popular dishes in the country. This traditional Japanese BBQ dish has been around since 18th century and today it's more popular than ever. In this blog post I'll introduce you to what yakiniku is, how it's cooked, and how you can make it at home!
Watch this video on yakiniku
What is Japanese Yakiniku?
Yakiniku is an informal, Japanese style of cooking on charcoal grills that is a popular style of Japanese cuisine among Japanese people and many other cultures throughout the world (including South Korea where it's known as Korean BBQ). It differs from traditional BBQ in that the food is grilled on a flat plate instead of skewered to be cooked over hot coals. This means it doesn't take as long and there's less mess involved when eating afterwards! Yakiniku can be eaten alone or with people--nice for entertaining guests who might not feel like sitting down at the table together. The dining etiquette varies depending on where you are, but generally speaking don't make any sudden movements while others are still cutting their meat; always wait until they have finished before starting your own meal; try to avoid using too much soy sauce since everyone will want some (a little goes a long way); use chopsticks and fingers for cooked food--sometimes a fork is okay if you're eating something that doesn't require chopsticks.
The word "yakiniku" has two meanings, and can be translated as either barbecue or grilled meat dishes. The origin of the word comes from shichiku (seven materials), referring to seven traditional Japanese cooking methods which includes things like grilling over a fire with skewers, among others. [[link]]We sometimes refer to it more broadly as BBQ these days because there are plenty of varieties other than just grill-based foods.)
Yakiniku differs from Western style barbecuing in that yakiniku uses a plate instead of being skewered on sticks across hot coals - this means less time and less mess! Yakiniku can be eaten alone or with friends, so it's great for entertaining guests who might not want to sit down at the table together.
Etiquette varies depending on where you are in Japan but generally speaking don't make any sudden movements while others are cutting their meat; always wait until they've finished before starting your own meal; try to avoid using too much soy sauce since everyone will want some and a little goes a long way; use chopsticks and fingers for cooked food (sometimes forks are okay if you're eating something that doesn't require chopsticks).
How to prepare for a Yakiniku party
If you are having a yakiniku party, the first step is to decide on what type of meat and vegetables you want. If it's beef, then cuts like short rib or skirt steak work well with thin slices that can cook in one turn (or very quick cooking). For tofu or chicken consider buying pre-sliced pieces from the frozen section of your grocery store which will allow them to cook more evenly throughout. Veggies such as cabbage, onions and peppers tend not to overcook as much when cooked whole compared to thinly sliced ones so they're perfect grilling companions!
The next step is to prepare your grill. Lightly brush the grates with oil to prevent food from sticking and preheat it over medium-high heat for at least 15 minutes before cooking. To keep meat juicy, place a piece of aluminum foil on top of each piece being grilled so that they don't touch the hot metal grate below which will cause them to dry out quickly.
Beef: Slice thin strips across grain into long pieces about an inch wide by four inches or more in length (to make straight lines) then pat down surface moisture with paper towels before putting onto grill.
Tofu: Slice tofu into long strips that are about an inch to two inches thick. If not pre-sliced, slice the block in half lengthwise then cut thin slices perpendicular to grain (to create wide rectangles). In both cases pat down surface moisture with paper towels before putting onto grill.
Chicken: Cut chicken into one inch by one and a half inch chunks if they have been frozen; otherwise leave them whole so they cook more evenly throughout. Toss each piece in cornstarch mixed with water before threading on skewers for easier handling when grilling over open flame without sticking.
Veggie Ingredients: Prepare vegetables as desired and thread onto skewers to prevent them from falling through the grates. Grill vegetables over open flame or until they are soft enough for your liking.
The final step is to cook each piece on the grill. After brushing a bit of oil, place food directly onto heated grate and allow it to cook for about one minute per side before flipping (or longer if tougher cuts). If you prefer indirect cooking rather than direct contact with heat then place meat about four inches away from hot coals in an oven-safe dish. For tofu or chicken kabobs which have been threaded on bamboo skewers, shake off any cornstarch mixture and skewer so that all pieces stay together without tipping over as they cook; this will also prevent them from falling through the grates.
Beef: cook for about one to two minutes per side, turning only once or twice.
Tofu/Chicken Kebabs: Cook over open flame without poking at food--let all ingredients cook evenly on their own without removing skewer just yet. Poke a hole in chicken if it has been frozen which will allow marinade flavors to penetrate more easily during cooking process
Veggie Ingredients: Depending on thickness, vegetables will take between one to four minutes per side before they are done. Remove from grill once slightly softened or charred (depending on your preference). Be mindful of the heat and don't let them overcook!
Types of meat at a Japanese BBQ
Most yakiniku restaurants serve ribeye, skirt steak or pork belly. Beef tongue is also a popular choice in Japan because it has less fat than the cow's American equivalent. There are also certain types of Japanese beef such as Kobe beef, Kuroge Wagyu beef, and Matsusaka beef that are popular at many Japanese barbecue restaurants. Butchers may offer cheaper cuts of meat such as brisket or sirloin which can be more fatty but are more flavorful than other types of beef.
An interesting fact about Japanese BBQ meats is that they're typically served raw rather than grilled to order - this ensures freshness while keeping them juicy for as long possible since cooking would cause moisture loss and shrinkage!
The etiquette of eating Yakiniku in Japan
Eating Yakiniku in Japan is as much an art form as it is a way to cook meat. Every dish has its own set of rules and regulations that need to be followed, so if you know how the game works before sitting down at the table then there's no possible chance for embarrassing yourself or offending your hosts. The first and most important rule is that the dish should be shared among every person at the table.
The meal starts by cooking thin slices of meat, typically beef or pork, on a grill in front of guests who are seated around it with their chopsticks and small individual plates. The cook then serves them one piece at a time to gauge how much more they want.
The next rule is the order in which you eat your dish, starting with vegetables or tofu and going to a mixture of raw meat before finally finishing off with thinly-sliced beef or pork. The final dishes on the grill are for dipping into small bowls of soy sauce mixed with water that's been boiled beforehand so that it has a strong and salty taste.
In Japan, the basic etiquette is to eat everything in order of its thickness from largest to smallest so that you can enjoy each variation of texture with different sauces and flavors as they are served. This practice should be adhered to unless told otherwise by your hosts or if there's some other reason why you can't.
Typical yakiniku dipping sauce and side dishes used with Japanese BBQ
Yakiniku sauce is a mixture of soy and sugar. It can be used as a dip or marinade for different cuts of meats, most commonly marbled beef.
Soy sauce (shōyu) is the most popular dipping sauce for meat in Japan. Teriyaki, a mixture of soy and sugar, can also be used as a dip or marinade. Japanese may also use Worcestershire sauce or other varieties of dark brown sauces such as molasses-based blackstrap BBQ sauce. Some restaurants also use sweet soy and sesame oil.
The most common side dishes are vegetables such as cabbage, cucumber, and daikon radish. Other typical Japanese dishes served with yakiniku include rice (cooked in a separate pot), oshinko (pickled vegetable salad) or kimpira gobo (burdock root tempura). The dish is often accompanied by ocha (green tea) or beer.
How to make Yakiniku sauce
For a different take on Yakiniku sauce, please see the recipe below:
First, put the soy sauce and sake in a small pot. Place it on low heat until they have reduced to half their original volume. Add sugar and stir well with a wooden spoon. Let simmer for about five minutes or so before removing from heat completely. Set aside until needed (sauce can be stored in fridge/freezer).
Next, mix together the onion, garlic, ginger root, sesame oil and salt thoroughly; set this mixture aside as well. Season your meat of choice liberally with pepper then cook over high flame - preferably using an electric stove top grill pan* - just long enough to sear each side brown nicely without totally cooking through (*if you don't have one of these available use any other stove-top grill pan or a frying pan and place under your stove's grills).
Finally, slice the meat thinly on an angle across width for traditional yakiniku style. You can also cut into rectangular pieces if you prefer (barbecue beef teriyaki style) but do NOT cook these ones before placing them in sauce; instead allow guests to baste with sauce themselves once they are served their plate of raw meat slices/pieces. Arrange over rice for authentic Japanese cuisine presentation. Enjoy!
Final thoughts on yakiniku
Hope you enjoyed this article about yakiniku!
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