To Grill or Not to Grill!?

Beef Grilling in a Charcoal Grill

There are a huge variety of cooking methods involving meat. The common factor is heat. Meat may be wet-cooked, as in a stew or curry, and all the flavors are released into the pot. It may be fried, in which case it is cooked relatively quickly, retaining its juices. It can be grilled over a heat source, but care must be taken otherwise it will be stewed if the heat is not high enough.

Ever since ancient man discovered fire, he was able to enjoy the pleasures of grilled meat, and I often wonder, are we not evoking those primeval senses in our taste when we eat good, charred beef?

No matter where you go in the world you will find evidence of charcoal grilling.

I ask myself why?

The answer is quite possibly, historically, people have used charcoal for thousands of years. It is a ready, convenient, inexpensive source of high heat on which to grill all manner of food. We see it here in Thailand with carts grilling chicken, pork, fish, etc.

It is known as Grilling in U.K., Broiling in America, Asada in the Latin American World, Yakitori and Yakiniku in Japan, Bulgogi in Korea, Shawarma and Kebab in the Arab world.

In all of these applications there is high heat, very high heat. The reason for this is simple. You want to seal the surface of what you are cooking to retain as much moisture as you can.

I have witnessed this form of cooking all over the world. In France I was privileged to see, in action, an ancient Rotisserie (after which device is named the most famous cooking appreciation society, La Chaine de Rotisseurs). This magnificent device worked like a grandfather clock. The pulleys were wound, and the weights raised to their highest. The meat was held in a vertical position to the side of the burning charcoal, and it revolved slowly getting beautifully charred and cooked over a considerable space of time. The speed of revolution was controlled by adjusting small wind vanes which slowed or increased the speed of revolution. Quite a masterpiece! I promised myself to get one made but have yet to do so! One day!

I have been in kitchens in Seattle where the mesquite charcoal was 1400 degrees F. In a grill in Singapore where the heat of the grill ranged, very cleverly from 300 degrees C to 700. I have been to many restaurants in Spain where the use of a Josper oven is widespread.

They all have one thing in common…very high heat. Why? To achieve the Maillard Reaction which is the mixing of amino acids and sugars at over 155 degrees C. Now we can achieve the perfect steak.

For the reader, I would like you to know that we do use that wonderful JOSPER oven/grill at Bangkok Bobs or if you wish to cook at home, we have some wonderful little charcoal braziers perfect for the task.

The answer must certainly be Grill by Charcoal!


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There are a huge variety of cooking methods involving meat. The common factor is heat. Meat may be wet-cooked, as in a stew or curry,