As soon as the sun shines in the UK, the air is filled with the smell of sizzling sausages as everyone rushes to make the most of the good weather with a BBQ. In comparison to many countries around the world, we’re barbecue beginners. Of course, everyone knows that the Aussies are big barby fans thanks to their wonderful weather ,but how does the rest of the world cook outdoors?
In Japan, come summer, people crowd in to the local parks for a hibachi, which translates literally as ‘fire bowl’. It’s not dissimilar to a small table top BBQ or grill and is usually round or boxlike.
The hibachi is filled with charcoal that features a flat-plate on top instead of an open grill, which makes it’s suitable to cook rice and vegetables as well as meat.
It’s a cooking method that’s also traditional in many Japanese restaurants although the whole concept is a fairly recent introduction having developed over the past 200 years.
Anything described as yakitori in a restaurant will usually have been cooked on a hibachi grill, although it will be a much bigger affair than those you’ll see being used recreationally.
If you’re a fan of Masterchef, you might have seen the 2017 finalists head to South Africa where one of their challenges was to cook on a braai, which is Afrikaans for a grill or BBQ. South Africans turn their noses up at gas barbecues and will only cook on wood or charcoal.
It’s a big deal with testosterone-fuelled pride ensuring men are very much in charge of the braai. And they’re massive structures looking very much like half a steel drum.
Boerewars are a typical speciality of South African braai – a spicy sausage in a round made from a combination of beef and lamb.
A trip to Sao Miguel in the Azores isn’t complete without trying out their geothermal cooking. In the village of Furnas, restaurants have dedicated hollows in the ground amongst the volcanic hot springs.
Large pots are filled with meat, vegetables and chorizo before being lowered in the ground to cook for about five to six hours. Although not gourmet cuisine, it’s well worth the experience.
Throughout South America the equivalent of BBQ is the asado. It’s basically just a wood fire that’s been allowed to burn down to hot embers.
A grill is then put over the top on which huge chunks of meat are placed. They don’t bother with marinades or sauces – just a dousing of salt is all the seasoning that’s usually required. Once cooked, everything is served with a helping of salsa.
Char siu is one of two BBQ traditions you’ll find in China. You’ve probably eaten a variation of char siu when you’ve ordered from your local Chinese take-away.
It’s identifiable by the bright red marinade on the outer edge of the meat and pork is particularly popular. Whilst the barbecuing process in China is similar to here in the UK, everyone is usually responsible for cooking their own food a little like a fondue.
Although there a scores of different ways people in Asia cook satay, it all comes down to cooking over a BBQ on sticks.
Whatever the recipe or the different marinades used to tenderise the meat, they’re all grilled on a special oven that enables the sticks to be placed directly over the heat from a wood or coal fire. The satay sticks are then served with a sauce and it’s often at the spicier end of the barbecue scale.
The New Zealand approach to cooking outdoors is a combination of barbecue and the subterranean method favoured in the Azores. Big rocks are first heated up on a fire and then moved into a large pit.
Meat wrapped in banana leaves together with veggies is then laid over the top of the rocks. The whole thing is covered with a towel and left for around three hours to cook to perfection.
Order a tandoori at your Indian restaurant and you’re really ordering BBQ. A tandoor is a large clay oven used for both cooking and baking throughout Southern, Central and Western Asia.
Wood or charcoal are used to provide the heat. It’s trickier cooking with a tandoor as it’s important to get it hot enough. Kebabs are stuck directly into the coals rather than being placed on a grill.
We’ve not included every country in the world, so if you’ve experienced anything different in the way of a BBQ on your travels, we’d love to hear from you.