The Top 8 Grilling Nations of the World
A guest post by Heather of The Clay Oven Company
There’s nothing quite like the taste of a grilled burger on a hot summer’s day, but there is a lot more to the art of grilling than just tossing a few steaks and chicken wings on to a barbecue. Grilling is a popular way to cook food all over the world, with many different techniques employed depending on the country and its traditions. We’re taking a look at the top grilling nations around the world to find out how they do things.
In Argentina they know their meat - and they know how to grill it. They have a huge beef industry with the average Argentinian eating 68kg of beef a year - more than any other country in the world. The tradition of Asado (literally meaning roast or roasted) is more than a cooking technique, it’s practically a way of life in Argentina and involves slow cooking beef on a special grill called a parilla.
Churrasco is a style of rotisserie in which a range of different meats are roasted with charcoal. It’s popular all over South America but nowhere more so than Brazil - originating from the fireside roasts of the gaucho people in the south. It’s most often served in Brazilian rodízio restaurants where waiters, called passadores, come to your table and serve various cuts of meat from a skewer - you pay a flat fee and basically just eat until the meat sweats kick in.
Other than sushi, Japan is perhaps best known for its teppanyaki style of grilling which consists of cooking dishes on a large, flat surface grill. Traditionally, teppanyaki involves sitting around a large iron griddle as a chef prepares your food in front of you. Since it’s a quick method of cooking and uses very little oil, it is a particularly healthy choice. As well as meat, noodles and assorted vegetables also feature on the ingredients list. On the subject of noodles, it is considered polite when eating them to slurp loudly as it is seen as a compliment to the chef!
There’s more to Indian food than the obligatory Saturday night curry. The original grilling nation, Indians traditionally cooked on a cubed-shaped brick oven called a chula which was filled with charcoal. We generally associate India with tandoori food though - named after the tandoor - a large round clay oven in which a fire is built. The oven is buried in the ground and marinated meat is cooked inside on long metal skewers.
Of course we can’t forget you guys in the good old US of A, where barbecuing is as big as the portions (although our native England is closely following suit). What and how you cook is as diverse as the country itself, from hog roasting in South Carolina to barbecued ribs and beef brisket Texas. Hot dogs are a particular BBQ favourite among Americans, and they munched their way through 155 million on the 4th of July last year alone.
Another well-known barbecuing nation, practically every Australian household owns a barbecue. In fact, barbecuing is so much part of the Australian lifestyle you’ll find them everywhere - at beaches, camping sites, parks, and even some places of business. A typical BBQ will consist of chicken, lamb chops and sausages, with all kinds of salads on the side and all washed down with a traditional Australian beer. It was Paul ‘Crocodile Dundee’ Hogan who, in a TV commercial, uttered the famous words “I’ll put a shrimp on the barbie”.
Perhaps the best known Jamaican food is jerk, a method which involves grilling marinated meat over a pimento wood fire. Allspice, the essential ingredient for jerk recipes, is made from the dried unripe fruit of the pimento tree and the term ‘jerk’ is now more commonly associated with the mix rubbed into the meat rather than the way in which it’s cooked. It’s the addition of the ‘blow your head off’ scotch bonnet pepper that gives the dish its fiery kick though. An accompanying glass of water is essential!
Grilling might not come to mind when we think of Vietnamese food, but if you were to walk down almost any street in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam you would see vendors cooking suon nuong (grilled pork chops) on simple clay ovens with a metal grill placed on top. Vietnam has a wide variety of cooking styles and grilled food, or nuong, is very popular there. If you’re ever in Vietnam and fancy trying something a bit different, grilled snake, rat, bat, and frog are all on the menu for the more adventurous!
By John Thomas
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