Barbecues from Around the World
Meat and fire. A classic pairing from the time of early man, has only evolved with nearly every country around the world taking pride in their version of smoky meats cooked on open flames. To help you make merry this barbecue month, Food Lovers has put together barbecue customs and their delicious offsprings from around the globe.
The All-American barbecue is a regional affair with many variations. Most barbecues in America come from the South that follows the low, slow and smoke rule where different cuts of meat are cooked slowly and slathered with sweet barbecue sauces. The famous types of barbecues are pork ribs from Memphis, Carolina pulled pork and the famous Texas brisket and barbecue.
A South American style of barbecue, the Asado is referred to as the national dish in Argentina. The cooking technique termed ‘Al Asador’ is when a full animal, or huge slabs of meat and offal, primarily beef, is cooked over an open fire using wood coals while it is constantly basted with salmuera (brine) for seasoning. The slow cooked juicy meat is then served with herby chimichurri and salsa criolla.
The South African Braai literally translates to ‘barbecue’ in Afrikaans, a tradition that showcases grilled meats in an uber meat party, much like a potluck. Different pieces of meat are cooked using only a wood-burning braai stand or grill. The most popular are beef sausages called boerewors, chicken and lamb skewers flavoured with the spices and sweet fruit chutneys called sosaties and other jerky meats called biltong. All meats are flavoured with braai sout, a heavily spiced barbecue salt and served with pap, a corn-based porridge similar to polenta.
Char siu the most popular barbecue dish of Cantonese cuisine, literally translates to ‘fork roast’ and refers to the cooking technique used. Pork is speared on long forks and roasted with Chinese five-spice, honey, fermented bean curd, and other seasonings over a fire, resulting in sticky crisp skin with juicy meat on the inside. This style of barbecuing also uses ducks and suckling pig.
The Brazilian Churrasco, like the Asado is a type of barbecue that is cooked using a variety of meats, but mostly beef, on vertical skewers at a high heat over coal-fired grills or an open flame. The churrasco is famous for being served in large quantities at Barbecue restaurants known as churrascarias, that host an all you can eat churrasco fare, that is served alongside pasta, salads, pickles, eggs, fries and chimichurri.
Gogigui is the barbecuing tradition of Korea done using ‘gogigui’ grills, small tabletop grills that are coal-fired. The Koreans barbecue all kinds of meats marinated in garlicky sweet Asian flavours, from samgyeopsal (pork belly), the famous bulgogi (beef sirloin) to galbi (beef ribs), all served with an array of banchan (side dishes) and rice.
Having originated in Spain, Lechon, Spanish for ‘suckling pig’ is today the national dish of the Philippines forming the centerpiece at many celebrations. The delicious barbecue dish is pretty upfront with a whole suckling pig minus the innards, skewered on a wooden stick, spit-roasted over a charcoal bed or an oven. It is basted at regular intervals and the result is juicy slow roasted meat with crisp crackling skin.
This Fiji version of a barbecue features a traditional form of cooking, where meat is cooked in a ‘lovo’ meaning, earth oven. Fish, chicken, pork or other meats, and veggies too, in large quantities are wrapped in foil or taro leaves and are placed inside an opening in the ground that is covered with piping hot coals and stone. The result is a communal feast with a barbecue full of smokey flavour.
This Peruvian take on barbecue is the core to any community celebration and is said to be 8000 years old. Marinated meat, a variety of potatoes, legumes and corn, wrapped in banana leaves are placed into an ‘earth pot’ aka Pachamanca that is then lined with fire-heated stones and left to cook for hours.
Shish Kebab/ Kebabs
The Shish Kebab from Turkey or Kebabs in general are ubiquitous in Middle Eastern cuisine. This technique of barbecuing involves marinating, skewering and grilling huge chunks of meat that is constantly rotated on open flames using coal or charcoal. Middle Eastern barbecues are typically served with grilled pita and hummus.
The Indian style of barbecue is done using a tandoor, a clay charcoal pit or oven that produces the signature Indian tandoori chicken. While other meats could be used in the tandoor, chicken is the staple. It is marinated in yogurt, garam masala and other spices before it skewered and cooked at a high temperature. The sides of the tandoor are also used to cook naan bread that is served along with the chicken.
Yakitori is grilled meat on a skewer that is popular street food in Japan. Chicken and its innards like gizzard and livers are coated in a sweet salty sauce of soy, dashi and vinegar and are skewered on bamboo sticks. The skewers are then grilled over white charcoal that don’t produce smoke and burns longer. Yakitori can also be made using veggies and beef and is served with beer.