Photos by MJ Klein
People have been going crazy being locked up inside because of Typhoon Krosa. So naturally on the first evening after the storm we just had to grill outside of Shao–hui’s place!
Normally I post about our grill parties on the main blog, but I want to make sure that I include our food blog readers too. So, this is for you!
I’m not sure that people outside of Asia realize that we use lump charcoal, so I thought I should explain a little bit about it because this is our outdoor cooking fuel. In some areas you can get Kingsford briquettes at the big stores, but when you buy charcoal from your local convenience store, it is all lump charcoal. When you guy such charcoal in Taiwan, it’s all imported because we can’t use our precious lumber for making charcoal. Most of it is imported from Indonesia these days.
This is a photo of a charcoal making fire that I took in Thailand in 2005. Pieces of wood are stacked up and a fire is lit, then covered up to rob it of oxygen. Only enough oxygen is permitted inside to keep the fire smoldering, but no open flame is permitted. In the absence of oxygen, the wood burns but is not consumed. The resulting material is charcoal. In Thailand and other countries, villagers supplement their income by producing small batches of charcoal like this. Most of the charcoal in the stores is produced in large quantities in commercial factories. Most likely the charcoal produced by this fire is going to be sold in the village.
Now we see things starting to heat up. These Chinese sausages are very sensitive to heat and they burn easily (note the black marks already). They require constant turning to ensure even cooking. But, the results are worth the effort!
Smoke is the key ingredient to grill cooking. I’ve seen people wrap stuff up in aluminum foil and isolate the food from the grill. If you do that you might as well just put the wrapped stuff on your car engine because all you need is a heat source. The point of grilling is to have the cooking method impart flavor to the food, and that is through the flavor medium of smoke. Meat drips fat on the fire, and that in turn generates smoke. Some foods don’t have enough fat so you have to help them along. Next time you grill vegetables, try using Italian salad dressing and see what happens! Be careful though, salad dressings will flare up bad at first!
For my next post, I’m going back through my vast archive of over 26,000 photographs, and tell you about some exotic meals that Hui-chen and I have enjoyed in Southeast Asia! Stay tuned!
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