Fired Up

Barbecue remains the most popular of culinary trails that has enveloped the entire world in its sublime smoke

Issue: Jun 2009

bbq
Barbercue, a world wide culinary ritual, hugely popular for social gatherings.
No matter how you like it - grilling a Hot Dog on the terrace, fanning the chicken tikka on a bed of coals, relishing skewered Satays with hot-sweet sauces or doing the 'Barbie on the beach' ritual - barbecuing is a guaranteed way to sizzle up your party.

BBQ Bonds

Hugely popular at social gatherings, barbecue parties are relatively simple to throw and almost always successful. Adopted the world over, even converted into regional variations, barbecue has found its way into the hearths and hearts of people for whom eating equates to having fun.

The variations of BBQ are aplenty. While for some, barbecue means pork, for others it is undeniably beef. Those who are health watchers will swear by fish and seafood or even vegetables. Virtually anything can go in a grill - corn on the cob, mushrooms, sausages, burgers, steak, seafood, fish, chicken, bread, vegetables, pineapples, even marshmallows. Unlike sit-down dinners with five-course meals, table etiquette and polite conversations, barbecue parties are casual and fit any occasion from birthdays, reunions and celebrations to weekends, new neighbours, sporting events on TV and even farewells.

Hot and Saucy

charsiew
Chinese Char Siew, marinated in a combination of soy sauce and honey
It is true that there is no smoke without fire. But in the case of barbecue, there is no smoke without sauce. Barbecue sauces, just like the meaty mains, vary according to the versions. The Chinese Char Siew or barbecued pork for instance is marinated in a combination of soy sauce and honey. A Hong Kong favourite, it is often hung outside in shop windows to entice passers-by. Char Siew Bao or the steamed bun with slightly sweet barbecued pork filling is a must-order at any dim-sum restaurant. The sweet, spicy, tangy and smoky flavours of the barbecue have also been extended to Hoisin sauce that is used to flavour stir-fries and noodles.

koreanbbq
Korean Bulgogi

yakitori
Japanese Yakitori
The Korean Bulgogi meaning 'fired meat' is a family affair with a common grill at a table setting where thin slices of beef are cooked and eaten with rice. The meat is marinated using soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil and scallions to enhance its flavour.

Japan, from where the famous Teriyaki sauce comes from, created its version in Yakitori with skewered pieces of chicken barbecued over charcoal. The dedicated restaurants or Yakitori-Ya is where sarariman or office workers throng to after a hard day's work for a quick snack, gossip and a mug of beer. The quintessential condiment of Teriyaki sauce is a mixture of soy sauce, mirin and sugar, and used as a marinade or poured on grilled meat afterwards. It is also used as a dipping sauce.

In the US, the barbecue experience is incomplete without the sauce. With each of the 13 states defending their versions of barbecuing to be superior, the one aspect they will agree on is flavouring the meat with the sauce. Widely sold in supermarkets they vary in taste, texture and their ingredients.

For instance, the East Carolina Sauce made of vinegar and ground black pepper was influenced by the African migrants. On the other hand, the South Carolina sauce that is made up of mustard, vinegar, sugar and spices was influenced by German settlers.

Pits to Perfection

Barbecue has even adapted to the local food habits. For instance, for many Scandinavians, food comes from the sea. But after a spell of long, dark winters, outdoor barbecue marks the onset of summers with game meat such as venison on the menu. Finland even hosts a barbecue competition and the grand prize is a brand new grill. In the Middle East where sun shines all year long, skewered lamb meat Shish Kebabs are eaten alongside salad, pickles and Lavash bread.

Here in Singapore, Satay is an island-wide favourite. With scores of hawker centres touting their delights, the marinated and char-grilled meat morsels promise a salvation through gastronomy. The delicacy's status for being a national food has been permanently sealed by the national carrier, Singapore Airlines serving it to its premium passengers.

satay
Satay, a popular delicacy in Singapore
There is no denying that barbecue is the most versatile and worldly creation. But barbecuing is not about slapping pieces of meat on the grill. It is a highly choreographed ritual requiring right flavourings, a seasoned pit master, secret recipes and hours spent in front of the fire slow-cooking the meat. The result is sure to delight the senses and please the palette of all.

Best of it all, it needs no excuse to throw a party. So gather a bunch of friends, a few bottles of beer or lemonade, stoke up the grill and start the fire.

Where to Eat?

KING SATAY

kingsatay
King Satay
3B, River Valley Road, Clarke Quay, # 01-06/ 07
Website:www.kingsatay.com
Reservations: +65 6337 6201

Located at Clarke Quay, King Satay forms an essential link between Singapore's nostalgic yesteryears and Satay's continued popularity. Hugely popular with locals and expats, the Kampung-themed restaurant is famous for its traditional Malay Satays. Chicken, mutton, beef and prawn skewers come straight off the hot coals, grilled to perfection and ready to be shared with a bunch of buddies over a mug of beer. The restaurant also offers lunch and dinner menus; but Satays remain its ultimate claim to fame.

SHIRAZ

shiraz
Shiraz
3A, River Valley Road, Clarke Quay, # 01-06
Website:www.shirazfnb.com
Reservations: +65 6334 2282

Transporting you to the exquisite land of Persia, Shiraz on Clarke Quay is a visual and culinary feast of varied Persian delights. Ground lamb or chicken meat Kebab Kubideh is skewered and grilled and served alongside fresh herb salad. Kebab Soltani also with lamb meat can be eaten with Polao (saffron rice). Meigu (prawn) and Darya Kebab (fish fillet) are its other delicacies. The Kebabs are marinated using a secret recipe that combine the exotic flavours and ingredients such as saffron, turmeric, mint, cardamom, yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate, rose and cinnamon. Place it in your mouth, close your eyes and take in the moment.

TORI-Q

toriq
Tori-Q
230 Victoria Street, Bugis Junction, #B1-K01
Website:www.tori-q.com

Bringing home the barbecued speciality that has enamoured food-lovers around the world with the very same casual appeal of an Izakaya snack bars of Japan, is Tori-Q at Bugis Junction. The secret to its taste is the Tare or sauce which is formulated using the finest of ingredients that takes 30 hours of preparation and years spent perfecting it. The house-special is Chicken Balls that are made using minced chicken meat with a juicy and tender texture. The Yakitori, which is authentically grilled chicken, has also the other variations including pork, chicken skin and fillet. Aside from a pool of die-hard fans, it is an affordable means of enjoying the real deal.

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