I want to start by clearing one little thing up – the Hibachi is a traditional Japanese heating device. It consists of a round, cylindrical or a box-shaped open-topped container, made from or lined with a heatproof material and designed to hold burning charcoal. It is not, ironically, made for cooking.
A Schichirin is the proper name for the Japanese cooking device usually made from ceramic. Somehow over the years, English speaking countries used the word Hibachi when referring to these Schichirin and it stuck, at least outside of Japan.
Hibachi’s aren’t really the type of BBQ you would use when needing to cook up a heap of snags at the footy presentation (but that’s not to say they can’t feed a lot of people – more on that later). They are usually pretty small so any meat you plan to cook on it should only form a part of the planned meal. Think things like Korean BBQ where everyone sits around the grill and cooks their own delicate cuts of meat. Once cooked they remove the meat to a bowl and marry it up with various accompaniments such as rice, lettuce cups, pickles, kimchi, dipping sauces etc. This is a good way to enjoy a meal with friends and family and can last hours.
One of the things I love about these little charcoal Hibachi’s is that while yes, they are small it doesn’t mean you cant feed a big crowd and the one way to do that is to put meat on sticks! I’m talking satay, yakiroti, kebab, Shashlik, Arrosticini, souvlaki, brochette, Pinchitos, Sosatie, Chuanr, Espetada etc etc. You get my drift! Put it this way, If I was having a party but wasn’t cooking low and slow I would definitely turn to the Hibachi and cook meat on sticks. It means you have to spend a fair bit of time skewering the meat the night before but at least you wont have to pull an all nighter tending to your pit. And on the day of the party you probably wont even have to cook them yourself. Just fire up the coals, put the salads out and allow people to throw on the skewers as and when they please. They wont mind and they will probably feel a little bit special turning their own sticks (if you have the kind of friends who cant turn sticks on a BBQ what are they doing being allowed inside your house?)
So anyways, the fellas over at Smoke King BBQ’s produce a few Hibachis ( 4 In the range) and one of these is the double charcoal chamber ‘Dragon’ Hibachi grill which I had the pleasure of reviewing.
The unit itself is made of ceramic with tin trim and an industrial stainless steel cooking grill. It also comes with a metal stand which elevates the unit off the table/ground which helps minimise heat transfer (the unit itself will get hot and could potentially mark/burn a table should it sit directly on top). As mentioned above, the Dragon model comes with 2 chambers which is handy if you have different kinds of meats or if you only plan on doing a small cook.
So for this review I made up 2 sets of skewers. The first was a traditional Vietnamese lemongrass chicken recipe and the second was simply cubes of beef marinated in olive oil and sprinkled with salt. I used briquettes this time around but you would get much better flavour using some quality lump charcoal or better yet some Binchōtan.
I greased the grill and cooked my skewers for a couple of minutes each side. I tested the little sliding doors that restrict air to the bottom of the coals but figured the briquettes don’t get particularly hot anyway so I just left them open. I slid my hand under the grill to see if the stand did actually keep the heat away from the table and it worked as promised. The stand itself is nice and sturdy and does make the unit look even more attractive and the supplied green tongs are a nice touch.
All in all the the skewers cooked really well and without issue. The only thing you need to be careful of is the fact that it’s made of ceramic. Make sure it sits on a nice sturdy table and if you have any clumsy or drunk friends about be sure to keep an eye on it because If it were to fall off the table onto a hard surface it will would be ‘goodnight Irene’. Apart from that it’s a flawless unit that looks really cool and has many uses and at $80 (+shipping) it won’t break your BBQ budget.
Michael’s Badass Recipe for Lemongrass chicken
- 1 Kg of chicken thighs cubes
- 2 Stalks lemongrass (white end only with 2-3 layers removed) Minced
- 2 Garlic cloves minced
- Fresh cracked Pepper
- 3 Table spoons on soy sauce
- 2 table spoons of fish sauce
- Half a teaspoon of sesame oil
- Chilli flakes or fresh mince birds eye chilli
Combine all ingredients and allow to marinate for a few hours or overnight before grilling on your Hibachi.
This Hibachi was donated for review by Smoke King BBQs who have generously supplied another Dragon Hibachi to give away to ABA members! To enter, follow our @ausbbqa instagram, and repost the competition pic with the #ABAhibachi. Winner will be chosen at random, and announced on March 11, 2015. Open to Australian residents only.