Food for thought: We as Americans see BBQ as unique to our cuisine and borders. We couldn’t be more wrong. We are lucky enough to be caretakers to a one of many extensions of BBQ – one we have certainly capitalized on but – whether we choose to sustain or enrich it is up to us. The majority of BBQ restaurant operators have decided against supporting local farmers, which breaks a fundamental rule in building any type of tradition within a community. But there is hope: today we have begun to witness a new generation of chefs who are opening the doors to a new breed of BBQ restaurant, one that supports the local farmers, while curiously following in the footsteps of other traditions past. We as Americans need to develop an appreciation of grilling history around the world – how these concepts of grilling reached us, and how ancient routes of trade and exploration brought us culinary ideas we still use in the present.
The first step in preserving our heritage is learning from past cultures and setting a course that we know is right. If we are going to preserve – or extend – our heritage, then we need to find a genuine connection with our food roots near and far. This is the prerequisite to building upon any tradition, old or new. Preserving our heritage also must be accomplished one whole animal at a time. It is actualized with a handshake from a local farmer, and becomes reality when a smile from a guest shines on the kitchen crew, because the diner has reverence for how much we do as caretakers in the good food movement.
If you look at various grilling traditions around the world, they all go by different names – Asado, Char Siu, Hibachi, Korean, Nướng, Barbacoa.. The common historical thread of BBQ involves a community gathering to share a meal that’s been cooked over fire, celebrating locally-raised food seasoned with native spices. These global traditions are well over 100 years old, and took root before industrial farming. Through education and celebration at Cochon555, our goal is to bring out the fun, communal aspects of BBQ, and to bring back the idea of eating together in celebration of making – and having – better food choices.
Through word-of-mouth events like Cochon555 Heritage BBQ, we develop interest in new and existing BBQ restaurants as they join the movement in serving local food and offering heritage breed proteins to consumers. By doing so, we aim to create long-term growth, jobs on farms, and safer, better food choices for the future. Today is the chance to join the action on the ground floor.
CHEFS CAN JUMP ON BOARD TO COOK A TRADITION AT HERITAGE BBQ. Pick one of the traditions below, send us an email and if space is available, we would love to offer you the opportunity to be part of the movement. There is promotional value too, the chef name and restaurant will be included in all media alerts and websites. If you are interested, please email [email protected]
The information below is copyrighted, author – Brady Lowe. Please ask before using.
CHAR SIU – CHINA
“Char siu” literally means “fork burn/roast”. In ancient times, wild boar was skewered and cooked over an open fire or in an oven. More commonly, a shoulder cut of pork is preferred, seasoned with a mixture of honey, five-spice powder, fermented red bean curd, dark soy and hoisin.
CHURRASCO – BRAZIL
Originally, a Brazilian rustic BBQ consisting of sausages, beef, pork, and chicken cooked over a hole in the ground filled with coals. Meats were skewered on metal spits, seasoned with coarse salt and grilled, then a gaúcho would cut meat from skewers using his churrasco knife. Now widely adapted across many Latin America cultures.
KOREAN – SOUTH KOREA
“Gogigui” literally means “meat + roasting” and is the method of roasting marinated or non-marinated beef, pork, or chicken over charcoal grills typically built into the center of the diner’s table. Popular dishes like Bulgogi (beef sirloin) and Galbi (short rib) are seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, pepper and “gochujang” (Korean chili powder).
BARBACOA – MEXICO
Believed to have originated in Barbados, derived from “Los Barbadoes”, the bearded fig trees discovered on the island. Natives called their style “barabicu,” which included spiced meats grilled over a “sacred fire pit” filled with fig wood. The style of was eventually taken to Mexico where slow-roasted meats over an open fire were called Barbacoa.
BRAAI – SOUTH AFRICA
South Africans love to “Braai”, which includes grilling, hanging out and drinking. Braaivleis translates to “grilled meat” and refers to staple grilled dishes like Boerewors (a pork and beef sausage flavored with coriander and garlic) and Sosaties (marinated chicken kebabs) in addition to steak and lamb chops.
ASADO – SOUTH AMERICA
Asado can be claimed by many South American countries, but best known in Argentina. The seasoning and cooking techniques are simple; whole animals or larger muscles are seasoned with olive oil and salt, perched on metal crosses over a wood fire that has been burned down to coals.
HIBACHI – JAPAN
The hibachi “fire bowl” is a traditional Japanese, cylindrical, open-topped container lined with a heatproof material that holds burning charcoal. Popular in public parks in Japanese culture during summer months, parkgoers enjoy roasted meats, veggies and noodles where grill masters fan charcoals with long disposable fans called uchiwa.
MANGAL – ASIA
The Middle Eastern name for barbecue in a social context. Mangal refers to friends, and the hospitality towards a gathering while the meal consists of grilled vegetables, shish kebabs, various köfte (meatballs), chicken, and offal seasoned with curry, chiles, yogurt, cardamom, cumin and pepper.
LUAU – HAWAII
Kā-lua translates to “the hole” and is a cooking method that utilizes an “imu”, a type of underground oven and mesquite wood. Rocks are heated, the hole is lined with banana leaves, the meat is salted, covered first with wet burlap, then with a layer of sand and presented at large parties.
BABI GULING – INDONESIA
Whole pigs are seasoned with mixtures of chiles, lemongrass, ginger, galangal, and turmeric, then roasted over a wood fire on hand-turned log rotisserie spits. Cooked pigs are carried across the street to an open-air restaurant where women wielding cleavers dole out servings of the crispy, spice-scented meat with fragrant rice and spicy long bean salad.
TEXAS – CENTRAL VS EASTERN
In central Texas, the brisket, handmade sausage, and pork ribs are seasoned, smoked over oak coals, and served market-style. In Eastern Texas, pork shoulders, sausage, brisket, and pork ribs are slowly cooked to fall off the bone, smoked and served with a sweet, tomato sauce.
SANTA MARIA – CALIFORNIA
The Santa Maria style, born in California’s central coast, is part of the state’s Spanish heritage. Prepared mainly in the forms of tri-tip and top sirloin steak, Santa Maria barbecue is seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic and grilled over hot wood coals. Over the years this style has shifted from pit cooking to grilling.
NƯỚNG – VIETNAM
Nướng translates to “grilled dish” from a culture known for balancing the 5 senses, freshness, and fish sauce. A variety of meats are seasoned with salt, chiles, garlic, and sugar, and typically served by street vendors on rice papers (bánh tráng), rice noodles (bún), or wrapped in charred leaves.
LEXINGTON – N. CAROLINA
Dominated by wood-smoked pork shoulder, either sliced or finely chopped. Lexington-style refers to a vinegar-based “red” sauce of ketchup, vinegar, and pepper. The sauce is mixed with finely minced cabbage (instead of mayo) to make a barbecue slaw that is tangy, spicy and sweet.
CALÇOTADA – SPAIN
Groups gather to celebrate harvest by drinking lots of cava and starting a roaring fire to cook Calçots – a large, mild scallions charred on the outside and then steamed until tender in newspapers. No utensils, everyone removes the burnt outer layer, dips them in romesco and eat them whole, along with botifarra (a Catalan pork sausage).
SPIESSBRATEN – GERMANY
In the 1800’s, gem stone prospectors brought this technique back from the South American Gouchos. “Spiess” translates to spit or skewer, beef or pork are marinated with raw onions, salt and pepper the day before they are spit roasted slowly over beach wood coals.
SATAY – SOUTHEAST ASIA
Originating in Java, Indonesia but popular in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the Philippines, and Thailand. A variety of meats are seasoned, skewered, and grilled over thin elongated grills. Depending on the region, island or country, the sauce, color and flavor will most definitely change although not the cooking method.
LA CAJA CHINA – CUBA
Translated it means the “Chinese Box”, fabricated of wood and sheets of metal, the box was made popular by a Cuban man living in Miami named Roberto Guerra. Most often used during the Holiday season, pigs are brined or seasoned with sour orange, garlic, oregano, cumin, and sugar before roasting.
Here are additional styles available for your consideration:
Chula of India
Lechonera of Puerto Rico
Lechon of the Philippines
Tandoor of India
Barbeque Fish in Bamboo from Thailand
Mohinga of Burma
ARE WE MISSING ONE? Send us an email, links to historical perspectives of the traditions and we will add to the conversation. Thanks!
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Hey Everyone Get’yer #BBQTRADITIONS @HERITAGEBBQ by the folks @COCHON555 http://j.mp/555-BBQ-TOUR
Heritage BBQ is the first Global BBQ Fair celebrating and educating consumers on all styles of BBQ. The main event, similar to COCHON555 is a specific theme called Heritage BBQ that features five chefs cooking five whole pigs in competition. What is new about the event? What is the addition of #BBQTraditions mean to me as a ticket buyer?
Different the COCHON555 event, there is no consumer voting. We still announce a winner at the end of the event, we still have 20 judges who find a winner, and the event is still a progressive tasting of beverages and pop-up experiences. The big difference between eating @COCHON555 and @HERITAGEBBQ is the total amount of extra chefs cooking  dish that will offer guests a peak into timeless BBQ cultures from around the world. If we kept consumer voting intact, there would be confusion for the competitors and the extra chefs who are providing more food options – which is this new edible education model. The more food we can buy, the more food we need to grow, it’s a great trade-off for sure. Instead of only five chefs cooking whole pig, we could have upwards of 15 chefs also cooking styles from all over the world for guests to try (see list below).