Did you know that we are not the only people/country who braai in the world, we may be the best at it or even be the only country (besides the UK and maybe OZ) that refers to it as braaing?
Let’s get some culture and see what and how people in other countries and cultures braai.
A braai is a social occasion that has specific traditions and social norms. In black and white South African culture, women rarely cook meat at a social gathering, as this is normally the preserve of men. The men gather round the braaistand (the grill) outdoors and cook the meat, while women prepare the pap, salads, desserts, and vegetables in the kitchen. The meal is subsequently eaten outside by the braai stand, since these gatherings are normally hosted during the long summer months. The cooking of the meat is not the prerogative of all the men attending, as one person would normally be in charge. He will attend to the fire, check that the coals are ready, and cook the meat. Etiquette has it that others are not permitted to interfere with the braai operators duties, except if expressly asked to help. Other men may assist in the cooking, but generally only partake in fireside conversations while having a drink in hand.
Jamaica – Here they ‘braai’ what they call jerk chicken.
The Bahamas – ‘Braai’ in this part of the world similar to to that in the Pacific Islands, Hawaii, mainland America, UK, and Australia.
Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico – The mthos of braaing by the indigenous Native Taíno people has involved slowly cooking meat over a wooden mesh of sticks. In Spanish-speaking islands of the Caribbean, such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and especially Puerto Rico, lechon is a common delicacy. It consists of taking a whole pig, slicing it from the head to tail along the chest and stomach, and slow-grilling the hog as it is turned on a rod.
China – Their version of ‘braai’ is Chuanr (traditionally made from Lamb, chicken, pork, beef and seafood have recently become favorites as well) where you’ll find small pieces of meat on skewers roasted over charcoal. It originated in the Xinjiang province of China and in recent years has spread throughout the rest of the country, most notably northern China as a popular street food.
Hong Kong – Their ‘braai’ culture is very similar to ours. Here, with char siu, pork is prepared with a marinade of honey and soy sauce, and braaid in long, narrow strips. Outdoor barbecues (usually known simply as BBQ) are popular among local residents on short trips to the regional parks in the countryside. These BBQ’s are invariably charcoal-fired, with marinated pieces of meat (usually beef, pork, sausage, or chicken wings) and ‘braaid’ using long, hand-held forks. Honey may sometimes be brushed on near the end of the braai session. At the same time, foil-wrapped pieces of corn and sweet potato are placed on the hot coals; these take a long time to cook so they are usually eaten at the end of the barbecue. Unlike Western barbecues, everyone gathers around the fire and cooks their own food, so the atmosphere is closer to a ‘bring and braai’.
Taiwan – ‘Braaing’ is a popular outdoor activity here. Most are fired by charcoal or sometimes compressed logs and the food are placed on grills. Where the method is very close to ours, the food is a bit different. The most popular item is slices of meat marinated in soy sauce, which is often sandwiched in a piece of toast before eaten (like braaibroodjies). Seafoods and vegetables are also common, sometimes seasoned and wrapped into tinfoil packages before the braai. They tend to celebrate mid-autumn festival with (outdoor) braaing. They also braai in night markets and in some restaurants, often sold on skewers. Some restaurants allow customers to barbecue on their own table; many of these are all-you-can-eat chain restaurants.
Korea – Bulgogi (???) is thinly sliced beef (and sometimes pork or chicken) marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and chili pepper, and braaid at a table. It is a main course, and is therefore served with rice and side dishes such as Kimchi. Bulgogi literally means “fire meat.” The more common Korean “BBQ” is called galbi, which are marinated ribs. Mmm…
Japan – Braaing is very popular in Japan as part of an outdoor activity. Normally, more vegetables and seafood are incorporated than in here in Mzanzi, and soy sauce or soy based sauces are commonly used. Occasionally, the Japanese-style fried noodle “Yakisoba” would be cooked as well. In addition, Jingisukan, Yakiniku, and Horumonyaki are famous. Yakitori is the Japanese version of shish kebab. Spare ribs, chicken, and steak are also grilled and glazed with teriyaki sauce.
Satay is popular in several Southeast Asian countries: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It consists of pieces of meat skewered on bamboo sticks. The meat is marinated in a mixture of spices similar to a curry mix and pulverised peanut. Most common meats are chicken, lamb and beef, and in non-Muslim enclaves, you will also find satay made from pork and animal offal. Satay is a mainstay of most Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean braais. Traditional uses are chicken thigh meat that’s cut into strips before they are skewered and may include pork, mutton and beef.
After the meat has been braaid over a charcoal flame, it is served with a thick gooey dipping sauce made from the same mixture as the marinade for the meat, a peanut tasting curry like mixture. In the mountainous regions of North Borneo, the local Kadazan people’s specialities are chicken satay and snake meat satay; the latter, as of 2007, is only available under exceptional circumstances. Before 1990, it was possible to get satay of animals like tapir, elephants, flying fox, goannas and wild boar. Unfortunately, these animals are now rare and/or endangered.
Phillipines – In the Philippines, Lechon is a centrepiece of the main cultural diet. It is extremely rare for any celebratory occasion to lack lechon. Philippine lechon is prepared similarly to that of the Spanish-speaking islands of the Caribbean. The hog is opened from head to tail along the belly, and is braaid slowly (like with smoking) turned on a rod over a fire. Barbecue is also the term for skewered pork or chicken, marinated in and basted with a sweetish sauce made from ketchup, pineapple juice, and/or 7-Up. Chicken barbecue is often served with what is popularly known as Java sauce. Bananacue, a dish consisting of plantains skewered on a stick similar in style to shish kebab, is also commonly cooked.
Singapore – (We South Africans like going to Singapore) In this city state, barbecue or BBQ, as it is commonly known as, is a common feature in social gatherings, but a less common feature of a typical Singaporean’s daily lifestyle and diet. A majority of Singaporeans live in government aided apartments or HDB flats. A lack of open spaces at home results in BBQ gatherings in parks or chalets. The Singapore National Parks rents out barbecue pits that are placed in popular parks like the East Coast Park. Other parks that offer barbecue pits to the public include Punggol Park, Pasir Ris Park, West Coast Park, Changi Beach Park, Sembawang Park and Pulau Ubin.
Singapore styled BBQ is mostly charcoal fired and Singaporeans roast a variety of Southeast Asian and Western food. Besides satay, other BBQ food includes sambal stingray or cuttlefish wrapped in aluminium foil, grilled meat (chicken, pork, beef) and marinated in BBQ sauce commonly made from soya sauce, pepper, salt, sugar and oyster sauce. Taiwanese sausages, chicken franks and sausages are also grilled. Marshmallows skewered using satay sticks is another highlight of a Singaporean barbecue.
The fire starter used is not the typical lighter fluid or charcoal chimney starter used in western grills. Instead, the fire starter comes in a box of small rolled up briquette of saw wood dust and wax which is lit and placed under a stack of charcoal briquette (Interesting, eh?)
Central and Southern Asia.
Mongolia – Nomadic Mongolians have several ‘braai’ methods, one of which is “Khorkhog”. They first heat palm-sized stones to a high temperature over the fire and alternate layers of lamb and stone in a pot. The cooking time depends on the amount of lamb used. It is believed that it is good for your health if you hold the stone used for cooking.
Another way of braaing is “boodog” (“boo” means wrap in Mongolian). Usually marmot or goats are braaid in this way. There is no pot needed for cooking “boodog”, after slaughter and dressing, the innards are put back inside the carcass through a small hole and the whole carcass is braaid over the fire.
The Mongolian barbecue often found in restaurants is a style of cooking falsely attributed to the mobile lifestyle of nomadic Mongolians. Originating in Taiwan in the mid to late 20th century, the so-called “Mongolian barbecue”, a popular dish in American and Canadian Chinese restaurants, consists of thinly sliced lamb, beef, chicken, pork, or other meat, seasonings, vegetables, and noodles, or a combination thereof, which is quickly cooked over a flat circular metal surface that has been heated.
Pakistan and India – The tandoor is a form of barbecue, particularly focusing on baking, that is common in Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India. Braaing is also popular, and uses many spices native to the local land, especially the many variations of Curry blends.
Mediteranian – ‘Braaing’ is popular in Mediterranean countries. It is influenced by traditional Mediterranean cuisine. Olive oil is a key part of the Mediterranean braaing style, as it is in the region’s cuisine. The most common items cooked are chicken, beef steaks, souvlakis/brochettes, halloumi cheese, and pita bread, and may be grilled, baked, or both. In addition, some dishes combine braaing with braising for more variety. Often, braai meat items are marinated with olive oil and citrus juice mixtures, and then garnished with various herbs and spices; basic persillade and several variations are often put on top of the meat.
Interesting? Keep watching the blog for an update to part 2 of braaing around the world.
What did I miss?
Do you know of any exotic types of braaing not mentioned here. Feel free to share it with us below.