No summer is complete without barbeque, and in Japan this tradition is the same as anywhere. Here at the home of the JLR, we recently purchased a Big Green Egg, which is designed after traditional Japanese furnaces or kamado. The first time we saw one, my wife was amazed when she realized it was designed like a kamado, so eventually we bought one a year later when we could afford it.1 The Egg is shown here:
We love using it, and started to grill things like yakitori and grilled corn:
Yakitori (焼き鳥), or skewered chicken, comes in two varities usually: grilled with just salt and pepper, or grilled with yakitori sauce (vaguely like teriyaki sauce). My wife made both versions. For the corn, it was a simple matter of grilling it long and slow on the Egg. Even though the outer leaves are blackened, the corn inside is really tasty, and you can just add salted butter on it once done. Here’s the finished product:
We also grilled red peppers too. It’s good to grill them until black, because the sugar in the peppers will caramelize, while the black skin outside can be easily peeled off. If it’s not black, you didn’t cook it enough. Sometimes I also grill vegetarian burgers too1 but they cook differently than regular burgers and I haven’t figured out how to do it well without burning them. If the right vegetarian burger is grilled correctly, they are quite good though. 🙂
Barbecuing in Japan is usually not done in one’s backyard for safety and practical reasons. Afterall, houses are much too close together, space is limited, and it can be a fire hazard unless you live in the countryside. Instead, people might organize outings at the local park, riverside or other outdoor areas and invite friends and family. Either way, grilling is a great hobby anywhere during the summer, and a nice chance to enjoy good weather, family and friends. 🙂
Happy Summer everyone!
P.S. Pro-tip: to keep the bamboo skewers from burning and breaking, soak them in water 30 minutes before you start.
P.P.S. In the last photo, you can see a pair children’s chopsticks. My daughter upgraded to a more advanced pair recently from the one’s mentioned in this post. They are similar to the pair shown here, though different brand. My wife’s parents sent them of course. 🙂
1 “All good things come to those who wait,” as the old proverb goes. 🙂 Though this blog likes to focus on Japanese and Buddhist bits of wisdom, I also appreciate the wisdom of my own European ancestry too.
2 I am not vegetarian, but I do try to eat more vegetarian meals. Eating less meat in general is a good habit to develop in general for a variety of practical, ethical, health and religious reasons. I first got the idea from my wife’s parents (who like many older-generation Japanese just don’t eat much meat).