Saturday, 14 April 2012

How Do Different Cultures Barbecue? - Food - Recipes

We all like to think that we invented barbecue. The truth, however, is that different cultures in different countries throughout the world have their own homegrown styles of barbecue grill, some of which go back thousands of years. Any fan of barbecued meat that avoids these other styles is missing out on learning some new techniques and eating some great food. This article will give you a brief, whirlwind tour of different barbecue traditions and techniques across the globe.

To appreciate other styles of barbecued grill, we'll have to leave behind some comfortable American notions about barbecue. When we think of barbecue, we think of pork and beef cooked low and slow over indirect heat for some truly fine tender and juicy meat slathered in a sweet and spicy tomato-based sauce. Barbecue grill in other cultures, however, cook lots of other meat in addition to beef and pork, and use their own native spices and sauces. And while we see an important difference between grilling and barbecuing indeed, may even come to blows over it after a few beers in a Texas roadhouse, few other cultures make such a distinction. So for this article, we'll have included grilling as part of barbecue.

European countries have had their own types of barbecue grill for centuries. Before refrigeration, smoking was one of the standard ways to preserve meat for the winter. Europeans smoke just about any animal that walks, swims, or flies. Central and Eastern European countries are famous for their sausages smoked over oak or hickory wood. Ireland smoked meat over peat instead of a charcoal or wood grill, creating a distinctive flavor in the process, and the Irish make a mean smoked potato. France, Italy, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries have a tradition of meat delicately seasoned with persillade (garlic and parsley), brushed with olive oil to seal in the juices, and smoked over grapevine wood.

The Asian barbecue tradition evolved completely separately from western barbecue grill over thousands of years. The kamado cooker burns lump charcoal, and is tightly sealed to keep in moisture, the ceramic cooker walls radiate the low, indirect heat all around the meat for hours. Southern China serves Char Sui, pork marinated in soy sauce and honey and grilled in long narrow strips. Korea sports Bulgogi, thinly sliced beef, pork, or chicken marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and chili pepper, and is grilled right at the table. Japanese barbecue is marinated in soy-based sauces such as their famous Teriyaki, and sport some of the world's finest techniques for barbecuing seafood and vegetables. They even barbecue fried noodles, known as Yakisoba. The southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam boast the world famous Satay, meat skewered on bamboo, BBQ grilled over charcoal, and marinated and basted with a thick, gooey curry-peanut sauce.

There are many other barbecuing traditions across the globe that merits at least a brief mention. In the Middle East, the world-famous Persian grill kebab is deeply entrenched with many regional variations. In South Asia, the Indian Tandoori barbecuing grill tradition marinates chicken and lamb in yogurt and spices, then cooks it in a charcoal-fired clay oven. In the Pacific Island style of pit-smoking, of which Hawaiian Kalua is perhaps the most famous, salted pork is laid in an earthen pit lined with banana or Ti plant leaves and filled with hot stones, then covered in more leaves and burlap, then reburied to steam all day. Lechon barbeque from the Caribbean and Philippines roasts a slowly turning pig on a spit over charcoal.

Thanks to the glories of the internet, exotic new barbecue recipes, cooking instructions, and even barbecue equipment from around the world can be found within seconds from our homes and offices. Any barbecuer worth his salt can learn a new trick or two from the different cooking and seasoning styles of other cultures, and would do well to take advantage of this vast and ancient resource.

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