A Beginner’s Guide to Hibachi Grilling

If you have been tuning into MasterChef Australia’s Back to Win season this year, then you will have heard all about the hibachi grill! Now that the final week of MasterChef has rolled around, there is no better time to get amongst the hype of these Japanese-style barbecues. Our brief hibachi grill guide will provide you with all the basic information that is required for a successful grilling experience.

Hibachi is a Japanese term for fire bowl, and after seeing one of these compact, box-like barbecues you will understand why. The barbecue itself has an open-grate design, however is fuelled by hot coals which means it is able to produce temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius. Nowadays, designs have been modernised so you can find electric models on the market but we will focus on the traditional charcoal fuelled grills.

The best part about these grills are their space-saving size, making them extremely practical for smaller living quarters, barbecues by the beach or for travel. You can use them to cook anything from vegetables to meats, so they are versatile and perfect for small gatherings. Now, when it comes to grilling, there are a few factors to consider for a successful grill. Follow our beginner’s guide below and pass your first hibachi grilling session with flying colours. 

Preparing for success
Though it is not 100% necessary, the experts (i.e. Japanese yakitori chefs) strongly recommend getting your hands on binchotan, a dense white Japanese charcoal. This type of charcoal stays alight for 3-5 hours and can be reused several times. As an odourless fuel for your barbecue, it burns cleanly and can maintain a consistent, steady heat, offering the best possible results for your cook.
 
If you are not able to source binchotan, you can use lump charcoal or briquettes, otherwise known as hot beads. Just be sure to steer clear of fire starters or other synthetic materials that will contaminate your skewers with unpleasant flavours and in some instances, toxic chemicals.
 
What to cook
Hibachi grills are synonymous with yakitori so ingredients that are typically cooked include meats and vegetables which are threaded onto wooden skewers. Though skewers are the most common type of dish to be cooked on a hibachi grill, you are not bound by this. The options are endless, and just like a traditional barbecue you can use a hibachi grill to cook a variety of ingredients. If you are sticking to skewers, select meats or vegetables that are softer and easy to thread such as zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and thin cuts of meats.
 
To obtain the best flavours, make sure you allow time to marinate your ingredients in sauces like soy, sesame oil, chilli paste and so on. The longer you leave the flavours to infuse, the tastier the final product will be. Lastly, when preparing your skewers, start by soaking them in water for ten minutes so they do not set alight on the barbecue.
 
Ignite your grill
To light your barbecue, you will need to heat your coals and there are two methods that you can follow to do this. Like most chefs, we recommend using a chimney starter. A chimney starter is essentially an open-ended metal cylinder which is filled with paper at the bottom and set alight. The coals are stacked up above the paper chamber and left to heat for 20 minutes or until they begin to glow and flames develop.
 
Once the coals are ready, place them into your hibachi grill, arranging them in single layer so that the heat distribution is even. As mentioned earlier, the average temperature of a hibachi grill in its centre is 200 degrees Celsius, though if you need to obtain a higher heat, simply aerate the coals using a fan or hair dryer.
 
Post cook
Once you have finished grilling, it’s time to pack up and clean your hibachi. Use a pair of long tongs to pick up each of the coals, dunk them in water and then place onto a tray to completely dry so that they can be used for your next barbecue session. And always remember to be extremely careful when handling these hot coals!
 
Like all barbecues, you will need a beverage to pair with your delicious smoky meat and vegetables. This month at Cooly Liquor, we have teamed up with the guys at Yellow Tail to giveaway two portable, compact Heston Blumenthal Everdure charcoal barbecues valued at $200 each. One is available to win from Cooly Liquor at the Strand at Coolangatta, while the second is available from the Cooly Liquor Tugun store. For your chance to win, all you have to do is visit one of these stores and purchase any two 750ml bottles from the Yellow Tail wine range. Entries close on Monday 31 August 2020 so be sure to visit us before this date for your chance to win and become a hibachi grill pro!
 
Store details:
COOLY LIQUOR - Coolangatta
Ground Floor / The Strand Shopping Centre
72 Marine Parade, Coolangatta 4225
Phone: (07) 55 896 811
OPENING HOURS:
Mon to Sat: 9am - 9pm
Sun: 9am - 8pm
 
COOLY LIQUOR - Tugun
Cnr Kaleena & Kallara Street, Tugun
(opp Tugun Bowls Club)
Phone: (07) 55 250 835
OPENING HOURS:
Sun to Thurs: 10am - 8pm
Fri & Sat: 10am - 9pm

Image credit: The Staff Canteen
15 / 07 / 2020