Unlock The Secrets Of Cooking With Charcoal

cooking with charcoal

Cooking with charcoal can be a great way to add a unique flavor to your food, but it can also be a bit intimidating for those who have never tried it before. Here are some tips to help you unlock the secrets of cooking with charcoal.

Amount of charcoal required for BBQ Cooking with Charcoal

If you are going out for a BBQ, too much charcoal can be a hindrance, and too little can be embarrassing. The amount of charcoal required depends on the type of charcoal used. Here is a guideline for the amount of charcoal required when using domestically produced black charcoal recommended for BBQ.

Number of people and time

First, consider the number of people and time.

  • Approximately 700g per person in 2 hours
  • 1.5kg for 2 people
  • Approximately 3kg for 4 people
  • If the time exceeds 3 hours
  • 1kg for 1 person
  • 2kg for 2 people
  • Approximately 4kg for 4 people.

This is just a guideline as you will not use all of the charcoal at once, and you will need to add charcoal along the way.

cooking with charcoal

Size of BBQ grill

Recently, the shape of the grill varies from round or pyramid to hexagonal, and the size of the charcoal bed to the height of the grill net. Therefore, it is difficult to say for sure, but for a box-shaped BBQ grill:

  • Small BBQ grill with a grill size of about 20cm x 30cm
  • Probably for 1-2 people or for a small amount of grilling
  • Approximately 500g per person in 2 hours
  • The charcoal amount that can be accommodated at once is expected to be smaller due to the small size of the grill.
  • Medium BBQ grill with a grill size of about 30 cm x 40-50cm
  • Probably for 4 people
  • Approximately 500g per person x number of people x time (h)
  • For large circular grills like “Weber,” more charcoal can be accommodated, but adjust it by creating a zone without charcoal.
  • For a typical Shichirin grill, the amount of charcoal that can be accommodated at once is about 400g.

However, it is advisable to prepare a little more in case the time is longer than expected or in case you need to add charcoal.”

Ways to Start Charcoal Fire

Now, the coolest part is when you start a fire with charcoal. There are various methods:

Using a fire starter and lighting the gas stove

If you have a gas stove nearby, this is the easiest method. However, when outdoors, this is not available, and there is no show without it. Additionally, modern gas stoves installed in homes have sensors that can reduce the flame or turn off the gas appliance. If you rely on a gas stove, be careful as the sensor may prevent the fire from igniting. Although there are ways to deal with stoves with sensors, we will not be discussing them here.

Using a charcoal starter

A charcoal starter, also known as a “ChacoStar,” “Chimney Starter,” or “Fire Starter,” may have different levels of usability depending on the product, but they are essentially the same thing. You can even make one yourself.

Light the fire starter, place the lit starter at the bottom, then create an airway by filling the container (cylinder) with charcoal. Leave it alone, and the fire will start in 20 to 30 minutes due to the chimney effect. While you will need a ChacoStar, it is a safe bet.

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Stack the charcoal on top of the chimney and ignite it

Using a tool like a ChacoStar is simple, but if you don’t have one or find it cumbersome, try lighting charcoal with just charcoal, a fire starter, and a lighting stick. Being able to start a fire without a tool is quite impressive, isn’t it?

Create a chimney by lining up and stacking the charcoal without using any tools. The chimney effect is a phenomenon in which warm air rises while cold air is drawn into the chimney through the lower air intake. All you have to do is turn the charcoal into a chimney and continue to generate the upward airflow. 

  • All you need is charcoal, a fire starter, and a lighter. It’s best to use a pack or solid type of fire starter. Gel-type fire starters are difficult to see and dangerous to add later.
  • Place the fire starter and surround it with charcoal. Leave a little space between the fire starter and charcoal for ignition.
  • Stack the charcoal in a cylindrical shape for the second layer. It is easier to stack if you use charcoal slightly smaller than the bottom layer.
  • Stack the third layer the same way as the second. If you make the opening at the top of the cylinder a little smaller, the flame will be closer, making it easier to ignite the top layer. While a higher cylinder is more effective, two layers are sufficient if you don’t need much charcoal.
  • Ignite the fire starter with fire. Once the fire is lit, close the ignition port with charcoal. If the lower charcoal does not have a grate for the ash to fall through, and there is no air intake to draw in air, it will not close.
  • Leave it alone for about 20 minutes. When the part of the charcoal on the outside is visibly burning red, the ignition of the charcoal is okay!
  • Break apart the charcoal chimney and spread the charcoal. Use this time to prepare vegetables or meat while the fire is starting. You can be charming by being able to act calmly while starting the fire.
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Things you shouldn’t do at BBQ

Here are three things you shouldn’t do at a BBQ:

  • Leave the grill unattended: It’s important to keep an eye on the grill at all times, especially when it’s lit. Leaving the grill unattended can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, and it can also lead to overcooked or burnt food.
  • Cross-contaminate: It’s important to keep raw meats separate from cooked foods and to use separate utensils and cutting boards to avoid cross-contamination. This can help prevent foodborne illnesses and keep your guests safe.
  • Forget about food safety: Proper food safety practices are crucial at a BBQ. Make sure to cook meats to the appropriate temperature, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold, and discard any perishable food that has been sitting out for more than two hours (or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F/32°C).
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Throughout history, charcoal has always been an essential source of energy for humans. From cooking to steel production, charcoal plays an important role in many fields. With the development of science and technology, other fuels such as oil and gas have become popularly applied. However, the popularity of other fuels cannot take away the attraction of charcoal for those who love grilled dishes, especially in outdoor parties. Controlling the fire and charcoal not only helps the dishes taste better but also creates a cozy and attractive atmosphere for outdoor gatherings. With the combination of tradition and the convenience of technology, the use of charcoal to grill meat, fish, vegetables, and other foods is still popular. Moreover, many people also enjoy the outdoor space, breathe fresh air, and feel the heat of charcoal. Therefore, charcoal not only plays an important role in history and industrial fields but also maintains its position in the hearts of food lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

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