Everything’s Mo’ Bettah’ on da’ Hibachi


“Huli Huli” Chicken, rotisserie-cooked over Hawaiian Kiawe Wood

Since we’re on a roll with “Everthing’s Mo’ Bettah…”, living in Hawaii for many folks means we’re at the beach a lot when it’s time to play. And just as much as surfboards and sun tan lotion go hand-in-hand with the beach, so does barbecue!

GRILLING vs. BARBECUE

Which of course right about now, all you hardcore barbecue experts out there will stand me corrected by immediately pointing out that barbecue is NOT THE SAME as grilling. Which is what most folks are actually doing when they “barbecue”: when you COOK QUICKLY over an open, very HIGH HEAT on a grill, that’s GRILLING, not barbecue. When you COOK VERY SLOWLY and/or smoke food usually via indirect LOW HEAT while it’s COVERED, that’s BARBECUE, not grilling.

Then there are gray areas between those two methods, that we’ll just consider it barbecue, and wrap it up in a nutshell here. So this is all about basically cooking food over a fire using a grill or pit of your choice, whether it’s grilled or barbecued.

HIBACHI?

Now some of you are probably wondering what’s a “Hibachi”. Well, a Hibachi is a traditional Japanese cooking stove that’s either cylindrical or box-shaped and fueled by charcoal. And like many other Japanese terms, Hawaii folks adapted the name “Hibachi” to generally refer to any type of outdoor grill, with the most popular many folks used back in the 70’s and 80’s being this type of model…


Hibachi

Nowadays I don’t see many local folks using this old school style Hibachi, with most now using the kettle-shaped Weber grills. I think mainly because the cooking area on this type is too small for families or groups, plus they’re clunky to carry around and not built as good as they used to be.

What was great about these old school hibachis though, , is you could adjust the heat-holding cast iron cooking grate’s height between several notched levels. So if you had a flare up, you could easily and quickly move the grates up high to keep the food from burning. Or if you wanted a kick @ss sear, you could place or hold the grate directly into the fire from the hot coals, which was great for burgers ‘n steaks!


“Big Green Egg” Japanese Ceramic Pot Barbecue Grill. Image courtesy of MontanaEggFest.com

While we’re talking about types of grills, my dad bought himself the original Komoda Kamado Japanese Ceramic Pot Barbecue Grill way back in the early 70’s when I was just a small boy. Komodo Kamados were super-duper expensive back then, as even the “Big Green Egg” knock-offs are today. Yet I only remember seeing him using it a handful of times, then it just sat in our backyard under a cover for years, until my mom finally ended up growing a plant in it, I kid you not! lol  It eventually got given away to a friend who wanted to use it, thank God!

PROPANE vs. CHARCOAL


Top to bottom: Kiawe, Guava and Mesquite (chips, pre-soaked in water)

A cooking fire needs fuel, and in the US, there’s always going to be a debate on propane vs. charcoal briquettes; the latter of which being a wood byproduct. While some say “none of the above” and prefer “lump charcoal“, which are solid wood chunks that have been specially prepared to burn as charcoal, and much more desirable by grilling purists.

If you’re at a beach in a more remote countryside area of Hawaii, chances are there’ll be downed, dried-out Kiawe (Mesquite) branches lying around nearby, which some folks will add to or use entirely as their cooking fuel, especially if they want their meats to taste smokey, which I’m all for! It must also be noted that Kiawe burns VERY HOT, which makes it especially ideal for cooking steaks. Yes!

FLATTOP GRIDDLE vs. OPEN-FLAME GRILL


The Shack grills up SPAM Burgers at the 2008 Waikiki SPAM JAM

My huge “issue” is flattop griddle vs. open fire grills. To me, flattop griddle is just the same as cooking your food in a frying pan. Guy Fieri swears burgers taste better on a flattop, being “the burger cooks in its own fat and gets a nice crust”. However I beg to differ on that, much preferring an open-flame grill where the flames kiss the meat and form nice “papa’a” (seared) edges, while you get the cross-hatch sear markings from the hot cooking grate, plus that slight hint of smokiness.That’s the whole point! Can’t beat that!

BBQ MARINADES, SAUCES & SEASONINGS

Anyone who’s tried the Halm’s Man Nani brand Korean Barbecue (Kali style) or Hawaiian Barbecue Sauce know that one’s DA’ BEST! Let your beef and/or chicken marinade in that buggah’ over night, then pulehu (grill) ‘em the next day… BROKE DA’ MOUT’ WINNAHZ! Costco carries the Halm’s Man Nani Hawaiian Barbecue Sauce in a large bottle for about $10. Cuz’, ‘das da’ one fo’ get!


Seared rare-medium-rare dry-aged Ribeye Steak

As for grilling steak, I LOVE McCormick’s Montreal Seasoning! However I can get burnt out on that flavor, and sometimes just use Hawaiian Salt ‘n Pepper. That’s it. After it’s done grillin’, I baste it generously with garlic butter and let it melt all over… and you KNOW that’s gonna’ be GOOD!

GRILLIN’ ‘n CHILLIN’ in HAWAII

Following are some grilled ‘n BBQ’d grindz featured here on The Tasty Island over the past years. Enjoy!

Jin Joo Kal Bi plate (the traditional Korean thick-cut butterflied short rib style!)…

Soon’s Korean BBQ Chicken and Kalbi…

Bob’s Bar-B-Que Mixed Plate of Kalbi, Teri Beef, Teri Chicken char-grilled goodness!…

Yakiniku tabletop grilling…

Yakiniku tabletop grilling is as popular as ever here in Honolulu, with most Yakiniku restaurants being owned  by Koreans. Some places have very elaborate ventilation systems to draw the smoke away from the tables. Yet no matter what, chances are you’ll smell like grilled Kalbi when you walk out the door, so look out for dogs chasing you. lol

Typical Yakiniku involves a spread of fresh cut veggies and meats, such as shown above there’s Choy Sum, Eggplant, Napa Cabbage, Green Onions and Bean Sprouts. The dipping sauces are Ponzu (tangy), Miso-Soy (robust) and Mirin-Soy (sweet).

Grab the raw meat and veggies you want, cook your own to your liking of doneness on the propane grill at the center of the table, seasoning it with salt and pepper, then serve over a hot bowl of rice and enjoy with your sauce. Good eats and great for parties!

Pho Bistro 2‘s Com Dac Biet: Combination of Vietnamese grilled Beef Short Ribs, Grilled Chicken and Special Marinated Grilled Pork Chop served with Jasmine Rice…

Bac Nam‘s Vietnamese Rice Plate with Barbecued Chicken…


Bac Nam‘s Vietnamese Rice Plate with Barbecued Shrimp and Beef Short Ribs…


Crash’ award winning Barbecue Baby Back Ribs…


Joe Aloha’s mesquite-smoked BBQ Ribs…

Koala Moa “Huli Huli” style rotisserie chicken cooked over Kiawe wood…

Tri-tip and skirt beef steaks: one seasoned simply with Hawaiian Salt and Pepper, and the other with Halm’s Korean Barbecue Sauce over charcoal…

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers grillin’ some burgers at the 44th Annual Ukulele Festival

Guava Smoked grillin’ some cherry guava wood smoked pork and chicken…

Guava Smoked Pork & Veggie Pulehu Skewers…

guava_smoked_kabobs_grill

guava_smoked_kabob

Kukui Sausage in a variety of flavors, including Portuguese & Kim Chee, being grilled at the KCC Farmers Market…

Pulehu Kona Coast Abalone…

Grilled Kona Coast Abalone with Shoyu ‘n Butter…

Kiawe Smoked Meat (pork) and Pastrami (seasoned corned beef brisket, wrapped in foil)…

The finished Kiawe-smoked corned beef brisket, now turned into Kiawe-smoked Pastrami!…

Then turned into a Kiawe-smoked Pastrami Rueben Sandwich!…

Ever almost burn down the beach cabin or home, or burn hundreds of dollars worth of ingredients? Let’s talk about all your grillin’ ‘n barbecue’n experiences, secret “ingrediments”, tips ‘n tricks!


RELATED LINKS

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