I’m not a big steak lover but I do enjoy Asian style bbqs from time to time, particularly on hot evenings with a nice and cool beer. Today I am going to tour you all through the wonderful realm of our charcoal BBQ, a delicacy perfected in Japan and known as “Yakiniku” or grilled meat.
Most people associate Japanese dishes with low calories and health, to which there are some historical reasons. Whilst Japan has featured meat in its menu since prehistoric times, the strong influence of Buddhism in the country made the consumption of animals a non desirable trait, and thus the more traditional cuisine focuses on fish and tofu dishes with several kinds of vegetables. Somewhere along the line, however, we decided that we couldn’t do without delicious beef and the like, and thus it was reincorporated into the average diet. The specific term we know this BBQ method for nowadays “Yakiniku” was coined in the 1800s and is inspired by observations of Western grilling. However the methodology follows traditions born in Korea, albeit with some local modifications to accommodate resources and local taste, and its popularity is a recent affair of the 20th century.
And just like that you can now brag to your friends that you know some culinary history of Japan and Asia! 😛
Asian cuisine is often marked by its “share” principle. Instead of serving a dish to one single person, several smaller dishes and snacks are ordered by the group and served in big plates, with smaller individual plates provided for individual portions. In places like China, most restaurants feature circular tables with rotating centers, so everyone in the (usually large!) family can turn the table and access whatever plate they wish. Neat right?
Your experience with Yakiniku begins by sitting at a table with a charcoal mini-grill as a centerpiece. The meat, seafood and vegetables you order will be brought to your table raw, and you and your friends will grill each slice and piece at your leisure, allowing for long meals with party spirit that last for hours on end and earn the establishment a healthy dose of beer income. You will likely also be treated to some spicy Kimchi, a Korean style of pickled food that fits the bill of encouraging to drink more without filling you up. As you can see from the featured image, there are many types of pickles: cabbage, spinach, soy sprouts, fish… you may also get some egg rolls~!
So you have settled in with your collection of mini-dishes and have been nibbling away at them while you decide on what to order. The selection here will vary greatly, but more traditional Korean usually features a variety of soups and noodle or rice dishes, as well as cold cucumber salads or grilled fish mains. I often opt to have specific favorites pictured in the gallery below. I didn’t order any vegetables, seafood or chicken/pork this time around, but may be adding some more pictures later!
The key difference with other BBQ styles is that the meat is cut thinly to allow for really fast cooking and eating without the need for further cutting. You are also meant to “dip” your food into sauces provided, which are often a combination of soy and vinegar with some spring onions, or some sesame oil with seasalt. I love to add some garlic in the mix!
To close the meal there are some semi-sweet icecreams and some more traditional Asian deserts to be had, but I could barely stand by that point so I settled for some wonderful Oolong Tea and came home to show you all the pictures I managed to take while still sober. Hope you enjoyed!