Grilled to Perfection

September 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm Leave a comment

So long summer! Thanks for the good times on the beach. I’ll miss you. Sniff.

If you’re like me, living along the breezy California coast, you spent most of this summer playing in the sand and cooking chicken over a toasty grill. Ah yes, the great Japanese charcoal grill, a.k.a., shichirin.

It’s much smaller than your typical American grill — about the size of your two hands spread wide — and so is the wire mesh. So instead of hamburgers and hot dogs, Japanese people like to throw down chopped raw vegetables (peppers, onions, corn, etc.) sliced beef, and shellfish. None of it is usually seasoned, so they’ll dip it into a soy sauce-based marinade and pop it in their mouth.

Shichirin.sizedR2_TH

The neat thing about the Japanese grill is that you can use it virtually anywhere. It weighs a mere ten pounds and can fit under a grown man’s armpit. When I used to live in a Tokyo dorm back in the day, we’d have one on the stairwell in case somebody returned with a half-off special from the butcher’s.

Personally, I think Japanese grilling tastes much better than its American counterpart. What’s the secret?: The charcoal. It’s made of high-quality oak that burns slowly and releases a rustic flavor so good you’ll be smacking your lips for more. Forget Kingsford — whenever I go to Japan I’m sure to bring home a couple dozen charcoal sticks.

I recently found a grill at my local Japanese market in Southern California. It cost me $50. But it was definitely worth it. Now I can cook all my favorites: yakitori, soy sauce-basted corn, Korean BBQ, oysters. Oh, who says grilling can only be done in the summertime?!

Himawari

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