Hibachi grills are generally small and portable. They use intense heat to sear-in the flavors and juices which make them ideal for cooking smaller food items such as burgers, thinner cuts of meat, seafood, kabobs, and my favorite of course, steaks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing does a better job on steak than grilling with hibachi grills.
Due to the extremely high heat hibachi grills use it is imperative that caution is taken to avoid over cooking on the outside, or under cooking on the inside. They are designed to cook smaller food items, but that does not mean that larger items cannot be cooked as well, so long as care is taken. A method I often use is to build what is known as a 2 level fire. I put more coals on one side of the grill than the other which gives me a hot side, and a not so hot side. This configuration opens many possibilities.
Big juicy steaks are definitely my favorite, and what better than a hibachi steak, but hibachi grills are also great for grilling small strips of meat (and tasty) too! Laying a few strips of beef, pork, or chicken perpendicularly on the grill and cooking for 2 or 3 minutes on each side works well and can make for a fun social event. By setting up the hibachi grill in the middle of the table the entire family can have a shot at playing grill master.
Hibachi grills also do a spectacular job on kabobs. Marinating is the trick to the perfect kabob. An easy recipe I often follow is to marinate the kabobs in a sweet and sour sauce for about 6 hours or so and then use the hibachi grill to cook each side for about 6 minutes. Cooking time can vary some depending on the size and ingredients of the kabobs. If there is no meat involved I typically cut it down to 3 – 5 minutes. Using steady heat will ensure consistent cooking which is yet another reason I prefer cast iron hibachi grills.
Whether it’s a social event for many, kabobs for a few, or steak for two, hibachi grills offer many cooking options. And when it comes to hibachi recipes, the possibilities are unlimited.
Hibachi grills originate from China. Their original purpose was to heat the homes of the noble. Eventually they made their way to Japan (somewhere between 798 – 1185AD) where they continued to be used as a type of portable heater. It was not until
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A sizzling hot, freshly grilled steak cannot be beat, and no other cooking device does a better job of it than cast iron hibachi grills. Unfortunately many choice cuts of meat are often ruined by poor grilling techniques.
Following the simple steps below will ensure that your hibachi steak turns out absolutely perfect, every time.
Know the meat you’re intending to grill. Different cuts require different methods. For example, tougher cuts of meat such as skirt steak, top round, and bottom round should be marinated prior to cooking to help tenderize them.
The better cuts, like the rib eyes, T-bones, porterhouse, and NY strips require much less preparation. Marinating is not required for these pieces to showcase their flavor and texture.
When it comes to the bigger, thicker, and tougher meats, don’t even attempt to use cast iron hibachi grills. They were not designed for this kind of work and are the wrong choice. These cuts include London broil, some flank steak, chuck, and blade steaks and are better cooked with other methods like more traditional slow-cook barbecue.
For the cuts that need marinating, a good rule of thumb is to marinate around 1 hour at room temperature or up to 24 hours if in the refrigerator. Use your own favorite marinade recipe or even some of the off-the shelf packets available at your nearest supermarket.
Cast iron hibachi grills are capable of cooking very hot which is what makes them so perfect for grilling steak. It is this extreme heat that quickly sears in the juices and flavor. You want to make sure your hibachi has had plenty of time to heat up before cooking.
Overcooking is the most common mistake with hibachi steak. Always bear in mind that the internal temperature of meat continues to “cook” even after it is removed from the hibachi grill. I fully recommend the use of a digital meat thermometer when grilling and try to remove the steak from the cast iron hibachi at just a few degrees below the desired temperature. What is the desired temperature? Well it depends:
Well done hibachi steak is not recommended though, especially for the choice cuts as the meat becomes to tough after medium doneness.
Avoid salting beef until it has been browned on both sides. Adding salt before that point can remove the juices and dry the meat. This is not a problem with marinades containing salt though because the marinade itself counters the dryness.
Do not use a fork or anything that penetrates the meat to turn the steaks while cooking on the hibachi as the holes will allow those flavorful juices to escape and leave the meat dry. A pair of cooking tongs or even a spatula is a better choice.
Allow your steak to rest, or breathe, after removing it from the hibachi grill. This will allow the juices to resettle as the meat finishes cooking internally.
In the English language “Hibachi grills” usually refers to small aluminum or cast iron grills used for cooking. Due to their portable size they are often used for picnics, tailgating, and camping. The highest quality hibachi grills are the ones made of rugged cast iron and are best suited for direct-heat grilling versus slow, in-direct heat cooking more commonly known as barbecuing. This makes the current day cast iron charcoal hibachi ideal for grilling thinner food items such as vegetables and steaks (up to about 2 inches thick).
What is the difference between direct heating and indirect heating? Direct heating refers to quickly cooking over a direct heat source at a high temperature (500F+ degrees) for a short period of time. Hibachi grills use direct heating which is why they excel when it comes to cooking steaks and veggies. Flavors are quickly seared–in over an evenly distributed 500+ degree heat source. Grilled meat has a distinctive flavor that can be achieved no other way. In-direct heating on the other hand involves much lower heat (around 240F degrees) and relies on radiant heat and smoke to do the cooking. In-direct heating is most commonly referred to as barbecue. It is ideal for slow cooking that smoky flavor into tougher meats (such as brisket) or larger items like thick chicken breast.
Cast iron has a lot of pros, and one major con. First with the obvious – cast iron hibachi grills are heavy. At around 30 pounds, they are far from what any backpacker would be interested in toting around to the remote wilderness. Other than that though, if it’s a car camping trip, a picnic in the park, or even grilling in the back yard for the family or on the patio for 2, they are great! The biggest benefit of cast iron is the ability it has to retain and evenly distribute heat. Unlike cheap aluminum grills, this results in the ability to easily grill food, evenly and thoroughly to perfection. With cast iron grilling you will never have that burger that’s well done on the left side, and still breathing on the right. Another benefit is the durability. When you own a quality cast iron hibachi grill you never have to deal with handles falling off, legs bending, or bottoms rusting out.
There are some common misconceptions about the origin of the modern day hibachi. Originally the hibachi came from China as a portable charcoal heater used to heat the homes of the noble. Eventually it made its way to Japan (some say around the Heian period of 798 – 1185AD). Back then they were made out of cypress wood lined with clay. Later, stronger materials came into use such as metals and ceramics. The hibachi has seen many uses throughout its life time as a heating source. During WWII Japanese troops even used them as cigarette lighters.
There is still some uncertainty as to the name “hibachi” itself. Some believe that the original name was actually shichirin (defined as a traditional, Japanese, charcoal-heated cooking utensil). It is thought that when these cooking stoves were originally introduced to North America they were marketed as “hibachis” because nobody could pronounce “shichirin”.
Whether it is historically shichirin or hibachi, this modern day charcoal cooking device has evolved into a convenient, portable, outdoor cooker we now call the hibachi grill. They come in various versions and are made of different materials but it is the cast iron hibachi grills that offer the highest quality. They are not light but most people accept that compromise because nothing else grills better or more evenly than cast iron.
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