How to Hibachi - cooking over charcoal

火鉢

Hibachi | Shichirin | Robata

The Hibachi is a traditional Japanese barbecue that is designed to hold burning charcoal. There any many different ingredients you can cook over charcoal whether you’re trying to achieve the perfect Yakitori Skewer or Miso Glazed Cod. We hope you find these steps useful.

What to buy:

  • Charcoal – Jimoto Foods highly recommends Binchotan Charcoal. If this is not available another high quality charcoal will do such as Royal Oak.
  • Charcoal Chimney – Safest way for home cooks to light charcoal
  • A Handheld fan - Helps start a fire or revive coals.
  • Pink Salt – Salt is one of the main seasonings for Yakitori which ultimately enhances the flavour of the ingredient being cooked.
  • Grill brush – Brushing a glaze such as Teriyaki, Shio Koji or any other ingredient.
  • Metal tongs – To flip and move the ingredients on the grill.
  • Oil spray – to spray the metal grill rack before cooking this help create a non stick layer

1. How to Light the Hibachi

As the hibachi grill uses charcoal, it can reach higher temperatures than gas grills. Jimoto Foods recommends Binchotan Charcoal. This charcoal is typically used in Japanese Yakitori and can be reused again after dipping in cold water and left to dry for a day. This charcoal also burns for much longer than regular charcoal so understanding the way your fire burns is key.

To light the charcoal we recommend buying a charcoal chimney as its much safer to light the coals in a contained space.

  • Put some scrunched up loose paper, newspaper, cardboard pieces in the bottom of the Hibachi followed by two fire lighters and a few briquettes then carefully fill the rest of the chimney with your Binchotan charcoal.
  • Light up the scrunched up material of your choice with a match or blow torch.
  • Let the fire burn until white ash starts to appear. Note that often people start grilling before the charcoal has turned white. Please be patient.

2. What are you cooking?

Yakitori

There are two ways to cook Yakitori either directly on a steel rack or between two metal bars. If you are only cooking for a small group and have plenty of time, we recommend using the metal bars. You can also place a metal steel rack on one half of the grill, which is ideal for resting. Make sure you place your charcoal on one side of the Hibachi if you are using the other side for resting your skewers.

Tips

  • Invest in a boning knife. Always use a sharp knife.
  • Buy a free range chicken from your local butcher.

Steak

Whether your cooking a Wagyu steak or a grass fed steak there are certain things to consider. A Wagyu steak has a higher fat content so its likely to render more fat onto the hot coals and create flames. a grass fed steak is much leaner and less likely to render as much fat so you can cook at a higher temperature.

As with most medium to large cuts of meat 240g and above it is very important to cook your meat from room temperature the closer it is to the desired eating temperature the more evenly it will cook. I recommend leaving it out for 20-30 minutes before grilling.

Tips

  • Spread the charcoal out so the steak cooks evenly
  • Season both sides well with salt
  • Always rest your steak for at least five minutes

Seafood

Cooking seafood over charcoal requires care and attention. its much more delicate than meat and much less forgiving (can be easily overcooked). We recommend cooking shellfish on the half shell especially when cooking prawns, scallops, and crab directly on the hibachi this helps protect the sweet meat on the inside and keeps all the beautiful juices locked in. As for cooking fillets of fish we recommend fatty fish, such as salmon , trout and cod. If you can get your hands on some metal rods (skewers) this makes it easy to turn the fish over and less likely to stick as you you can cook it directly over the charcoal just like Yakitori, with no steel rack required.

Tips

  • Soften some butter and fold in some miso to taste this pairs perfectly with grilled seafood
  • Always have some lemon wedges nearby
  • Buy from your local fish market

Vegetables

Cooking vegetables over charcoal is amazing. you can unlock so many flavours and textures you didn’t even know existed. Take a leek for example; trim the top and wash first then lightly brush it in Shio Koji and olive oil. char the leek all over until juices start to release. Transfer the leeks to a cutting board and leave to rest for a few minutes.you can also use this method with Broccolini, Asparagus, Spring onions, Capsicums.

 As for Potatoes wrap them in foil lined with baking paper and season generously with anything from a miso glaze, Gochujang glaze, even a dry rub with Japanese spices (Togarashi, Japanese curry powder) and cook directly on the grill rack for roughly 25-30 minutes.                      

Tips

  • Buy good quality seasonal vegetables
  • Oil before grilling
  • Seaweeds like Nori and Gam tae (korean seaweed) help lift any grilled vegetable