Maria Endah Hulupi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Prepared with one of the oldest cooking methods, robatayaki is still popular among Japanese people, especially working people, who often enjoy it after office hours.
Robatayaki refers to the cooking technique -- broiling the food on a charcoal fire.
Although such a technique has been used in many countries, in Japan it has been widely adopted and further developed, said Seiji Ushirobaba, chef at the Asuka Japanese restaurant at J.W. Marriott Hotel in South Jakarta.
Ushirobaba said for robatayaki's main ingredients, Japanese people often use seafood, like prawn, lobster, gindara and fresh vegetables, like eggplants and paprika.
""People living by the seaside usually use different kinds of seafood, while those live far from the sea cook vegetable-based robatayaki,"" he said.
Ushirobaba himself likes to use enoki and shiitake mushroom, asparagus, tofu, potato, paprika, eggplant, thinly sliced beef and pieces of chicken on skewers.
These items are then seasoned with sauces (there are different kinds of sauces) before grilling them on top of a traditional burner using charcoal.
The charcoal can enhance the distinctive aroma of the grilled food items.
""Although a gas burner can be used, I surely recommend using a charcoal burner,"" Ushirobaba said, adding that at home people can prepare the dish by using a satay burner.
Basically, the fresh ingredients are grilled until they are properly cooked and turn into an appetizing brownish color. Besides bringing out the flavor, the cooking method is also meant to enhance the beauty of the presentation.
In Japan, robatayaki dishes are mostly served for lunch and/or for dinner and they are also available at food stalls throughout the country.
There is no particular drink to best accompany robatayaki dishes, but in general Japanese people prefer to drink sake.
Robatayaki is quite easy to make and does not require long preparation and cooking time. What is needed is fresh food, good sauce and beautiful browning.
Below is a robatayaki set as prepared by chef Seiji Ushirobaba in which he uses king prawn, scallop and gindara, but other kinds of seafood and fresh vegetables and mushrooms can also be used.
Try this at home and enjoy the delicious flavor and appetizing aroma of robatayaki, fresh from your own kitchen.
* 75g king prawn, cleaned
For the mayonnaise sauce, mix together
* 90ml mayonnaise
* 30ml tomato sauce
* 1/2tsp salt and pepper
* 1tsp tabasco
Cut the prawn lengthwise but make sure not to sever it. Grill it over charcoal burner until brown. Serve with mayonnaise sauce.
* scallop, sliced
For the teriyaki sauce, mix together
* 90 ml tomato sauce
* 1/2 tsp vinegar
* 1 tsp chili sauce
* 5 g garlic
* 5 g onion
* 1 tsp sesame seed oil
Grill the sliced scallop, continue to season it with teriyaki sauce while cooking. Cook until brown and drizzle the remaining sauce over the scallop.
* 60g sliced gindara
Grill gindara until half cooked. Continue to season it with teriyaki sauce once in a while until properly cooked.