CC license

If you are searching for specific recipes for "Sizzle Plate Dishes" preparation, I have compiled this list linked to the highlight.

Presenting diners with a sizzling plate of food is a dramatic introduction to the dish. It was extremely popular in the 70's and died off somewhat probably due to the cleaning of spattered shirts, greasy carpets and painful micro-burns etc. The use in Asian restaurants hasn't faltered and they are used very effectively.

The process is quite simple. An oiled cast iron thick plate is heated over a flame to just less than the oil smoking temperature. This is then transferred to a trivet or carrier wooden tray and the food served onto the iron plate. Immediately it will begin to sizzle and splatter somewhat. It's worthwhile wearing a protective apron to protect your clothing. Arms often get little shots of heat landing on them. Please be careful of eyes and face and make sure that the plate is on a surface to transfer the food onto the plate and not held by the wooden tray by an operator. The caste iron plates should be still available in bric- a-brac shops and various Asian suppliers.They are also available on-line and I have noticed in the web-catalogue that Import Food carry these in the US. (I'm not promoting Import Food for any reason other than the feedback from readers has been positive. The communication with them is quick and clear )

The sizzling food needs to be brought to the diner's table immediately as the heat will dissipate enough to stop the sizzling quite quickly. The caste iron will retain heat for sometime so it's worth reminding diners of the hot plate. The caste iron plate should be removed from the table at the first opportunity. In western traditions the hot plate was often brought to an individual diner with the food assembled. In Asian cultures generally the sizzling plate was a communal dish where diners served themselves from the sizzling serving plate.

Food on a sizzling plate can be exceptionally hot in temperature and it may also start to dry and caramelise around the edges, particularly if sugar or sweetened ingredients are part of the dish. Dishes combined with emulsion sauces such as the various white sauces are not suitable for serving on sizzle plates. The sauce will break and you will be serving your diners food swimming in a pool of lard with a light colored precipitate covering the base of the plate. The food will also continue cooking noticeably at the bottom of the dish and may even burn if the plate is too hot.

Dishes served on sizzling plates are extremely varied ranging of course from the "traditional" Mongolian Beef and other related style dishes, bbq'd meat dishes, seafoods, particularly crustacea and noodle dishes.

Noodle dishes work very well and to accommodate the fairly rapid drying out of the dish just use a dash more water or liquid in the "sauce" and cool the noodles down a bit before blending with the topping. The heat of the plate will bring up the temperature and the delay should prevent over-cooking of the noodles.

Caring for the hot plates is an important aspect. Generally these plates may be used infrequently compared to other caste iron or ironware cooking implements. Generally washing of caste iron ware is not the best way of managing this material. Washing can cause rusting and will ruin the seasoned surface of the plate. In the case of infrequent use washing is important as small amounts of dried or carbonised foodstuffs may adhere to the plate and attract insects, vermin or allow for a growth of bacteria. Long term storage of oiled ironware in confined spaces can lead to a vague rancid odour in time. Wash the plates very well and scour the surfaces. Rinse the remaining detergent off fastidiously and dry the plate completely. You may even consider flaming the plate quickly on both sides. Store in the original package in a dry atmosphere area. You will need to re-season the plate prior to next use.

If you are to be using the plates regularly or if you have an exposed area for storage, then the best way to clean  the plates is to place them in very hot water and with a handled stiff brush rub the surface all over firmly and rapidly. This will remove any adherent material and preserve the characteristic seasoning. Don't wash them with scouring and detergent unless there is some really persistent burned food but even then I'd probably heat the plate on a flame to further carbonise the remainder and simply brush it off.

Seasoning or re-seasoning sizzle plates

IMPORTANT: Use vegetable or cooking oils only. Mineral oils are unsuitable and potentially dangerous for those who may unwittingly be eating from these treated plates subsequently.

Make sure the plates are clean and the use of dishwasher or dish washing detergents is a good way to prepare the plates. The process is the same as for any cast iron cookware like skillets and so on. The purpose is to create a non-stick surface and a complete thin cover of oil to prevent rusting.

After cleaning and drying, the plates should be heated over a flame to high heat and then a small amount of cooking oil added to the surface. The oil may splatter. Allow it to settle a bit and swirl the plate around carefully or use some paper towels to spread the oil over the surface. This must be applied on top and bottom surfaces. Place it back on the flame and heat it until the oil just begins to smoke, be careful that it doesn't ignite. I would suggest using peanut (groundnut) oil as this is most resistant to oxidation and has a high smoke point.

Wipe off all excess oil and allow the plate to cool. Repeat the above process for three more cycles. On completion your sizzle plates will be seasoned. Food is less likely to stick on the surface and the cleaning is easy as outlined earlier. The plates won't rust because the ultra thin oil layer prevents the oxidation of the iron metal.

Plates treated in this manner will be fine left out in an airy space.

Regenerating old rusted sizzle plates:

This is not a difficult task. Brush the rusted areas vigorously with a wire brush or sandpaper until the rust layer has been removed. Wash and season the plate as described above.

If the plate has an embossed pattern on it and the brushing is too difficult or not very effective in removing the rust, then you may consider using rust remover which is fairly concentrated phosphoric acid, generally available from supermarkets and hardware retailers.  Follow the instructions and wear protective clothing, eyeglasses and gloves. (Once again don't be tempted to use any product which may contain mineral oils or non-edible oils.) after the de-rusting treatment, rinsing should be performed in a bucket. Discarded waste liquid should not be allowed to enter water courses and drains because this can cause a significant phosphate bloom of algae and slime. Best to dilute it greatly and pour it on the ground away from current cultivation. The ground will be available for the next planting and be rich in phosphorus.

Using the "sizzle plate"

The objective is to get the plate hot enough to keep the food hot for a reasonably prolonged period and to add the final grilling or cooking to the dish as it's served. The sizzling sound you hear of the food on the plate is generally water that is boiling out of the food. The temperature of boiling water is 100ºC so the plate any temperature above this will be the cause of the sizzling. I would suggest a temp of 150ºC to 200ºC (300F to 390F) and preferably less than the smoke point of the oil. This being better for flavour than the charred oxidised flavour of the oil and also recently there is some evidence and interpretation to show that smoking oils maybe dangerous for health causing artherosclerosis among other diseases (This isn't accepted by all scientists). There are few oils that have smoke points within this temperature range.

There are many dishes that taste perfect as soon as they're cooked. The sizzling plate is a way of maintaining this for a slightly extended time. You place the iron plate directly on the heat source, which could be a bbq flame, a gas flame or an electric hot plate. Before placing onto the heat add a little pure vegetable oil to the surface. On an oil stored plate this will run and on a washed dried plate you need to spread the oil over the inner surface of the plate. Heat the plate until hot and less than the smoking point of the used oil. Carefully remove the plate from the heat and place it on its wooden tray. Immediately add the food to the plate and place on the diner's table or in front of the diner if it's a single serve plate. The contents on the plate should be sizzling quite noticeably at this stage. The sizzling will slow down quickly but remember the plate is still extremely hot.

Some enquiries mention that their food is always burned when they serve on a sizzle plate. This indicates that the plate was too hot as used. I think that it may be an easy reminder to think of the sizzle plate as a portable griddle so the temperature should be the same as your griddle

Steak (not recommended for a premium or high quality aged steak)
You can grill or bbq a steak on a sizzling plate by basically using it as the griddle. I wouldn't cook a premium steak on a sizzle plate because part of the preparation of a grilled steak is a rest period after cooking to allow the muscle to relax and thus allow for optimal tenderness. The sizzle plate wouldn't allow this as the meat wouldn't have that opportunity to relax. If on the other hand the steak isn't of a premium quality and is normally the type grilled and served immediately then the sizzle plate wouldn't be a negative factor in this style of preparation.

Once again lightly oil the inner surface and heat the plate over a direct source of flame, preferably. Place the meat onto the preheated plate when it reaches a suitable temperature. Cook the steak as you would on any open grill. Serve the steak on the plate a little before it's ideally cooked, remembering that the meat will continue cooking on the hot plate. You are not likely to have any audible sizzle with this method of preparation and you probably don't want it for a good steak as this could over-cook the steak in part before it's eaten.  A steak Diane on the other hand is perfect as the steak can be cooked normally on the plate to near satisfaction and the sauce spooned over the meat. Raise the heat intensity and as soon as the edge of the sauce starts to bubble, remove the sizzle plate from the heat, transfer it to the trivet or holding tray and serve immediately.

Cooking hamburgers on a sizzle plate is ideal. Once again heat your plate to a high temperature and make sure the plate is oiled just slightly. Place the pattie on the plate and turn the pattie every 15 seconds. This will reduce the cooking time, give a more uniform cooked profile and prevent any unwanted charring and excessive drying  of the outside layer of the meat. This method flies in the face of a held belief that a burger should be turned once only whereas this method has been proven to produce a better burger for enjoyment.

I have compiled a list of a selection of sizzle plate recipes