Barbecues Around the World: A Swedish Barbecue

I’ve always wanted to visit Sweden. There’s just something about all the Nordic countries that fascinates me, and it’s not just because I like snow! The northern most parts of these countries are big on finding their own wood to fuel their fireplace. I often dream about sitting around a fire warming myself, before remembering that I only have central heating in my home and being disappointed in how boring that sounds. So, while I can’t have that crackling fire in my front room, I can take a look at what the Swedes do with fire and some meat – which I’m sure you’ll agree is always a great combination!

It’s a slap up Swedish barbecue, today in Barbecues Around the World!

Something Smells a Little Fishy

Something Smells a Little Fishy

Something Smells a Little Fishy

If there’s anything that could be called the staple food source of Sweden then that award would almost certainly go to fish. Fish has a long history in Sweden; it was a big source of trade for hundreds of years. It’s not hard to see why they love their fish though, as they have quite a lot to choose from (and even some of the sweet variety!). As the Nordic countries have a lot of respect for the open fire, it’s not surprising to hear that a lot of barbecuing is done on an open fire too. This is particularly true of fish like trout, bass and walleye. Smoking the fish is also a popular pastime, a popular dish being smoked herring (hot or cold).

Crawfish parties are popular too, and Swedish people enjoy eating these during warmer periods such as August. I’m not entirely sure if these are ever grilled in Sweden, as they are largely eaten fresh from the shell; although we all know that you can grill crayfish, and the results are usually pretty damn tasty.

Stop Mooseing Around!

Is the Tradition of Moose and even Reindeer

Is the Tradition of Moose and even Reindeer

More interestingly though, is the tradition of moose and even reindeer being consumed. I was talking to a Swedish guy not long ago, and he told me that game like moose and boar is common in countryside regions and are also barbecued on an open fire.

I’ve never tried moose, although I’d be open to trying it, but he told me that it was “one of the best meats there is!”. I suppose I’ll have to take his word for it for now, but are there any Swedish people out there reading this that can confirm it’s a tasty treat?

Reindeer is served up as souvas, which is basically smoked reindeer. Here the meat is dry-salted, before being smoked over an open fire, fried and served with bread. I’ve heard that the cuts are thin and lean, but it packs an intense flavour.

Other popular meats to barbecue are pork (sliced Boston butt) and rump steak.

Meatballs

Meatballs

Meatballs

Of course, I couldn’t write an article about Swedish food without mentioning the famous – and drool-inducing tastiness – of the Swedish meatball. I’ve never been thrilled when the other half suggests a trip to IKEA, but then I remember that they serve the most amazing Swedish meatballs there. It’s that not enough to make me jump in the car to take a look at some cheap furniture than I don’t know what is!

Anyway, just how do meatballs relate to our barbecue topic? You can cook them on the grill of course; just make sure you skewer them in groups. There is a danger that they’ll fall apart if you’re not careful enough, but if you avoid using such things as chopped onions, fresh herbs or garlic then you shouldn’t have many problems. A grilled meatball is packed with fantastic flavour, and you can even make your own meatball kebab.

Aside from throwing meatballs on the grill you could just smother oven made meatballs in barbecue sauce. At least the barbecue connection is there, even if you’re not actually using your grill.

For more on the Swedish barbecue you should take a look at this article, which explains why the Swedish are so quick to get outside and start grilling up some juicy meat.

A Brazilian Barbecue

Barbecues Around The World: A Brazilian Barbecue

With the World Cup 2018 well under way in the South American country of Brazil, I thought it was time we revived the ‘Barbecues Around the World’ series as we haven’t had an instalment here on the blog in a while. While we all bite our nails following our country through the world’s greatest football tournament, it’s a good excuse to get together, get the grill out and enjoy the game with a beer and burger in each hand. But since the tournament is being held in a country that has a climate that lends itself well to a lot of outdoor grilling – like when I covered South Africa – why not ditch the normal burger and sausages and try something a little more Latin?

Let’s take a look at what the country of ‘order and progress’ has to offer to the barbecue world.

A Traditional History

A Traditional History

A Traditional History

Brazil has a long relationship with barbecues, so much so that the municipality of Nova Bréscia is known as the ‘barbecue capital of Brazil’ and even has a statue of a man cooking on a barbecue in the centre of the city. The history of this relationship dates back to around 400 years ago, developing from a long tradition of livestock production in Southern Brazil. Like in Texas, the cattle ranchers of the region started to experiment with different ways of cooking the meat from the cattle they bred, eventually developing a technique of barbecue cooking known as Churrasco. They would cook the meat immediately after butchering the cow, cooking it on skewers over a wood burning fire. The meat would be slow-cooked, allowing it to baste in its own juices and giving it a flavoursome kick.

From there the people would eventually spread out from towns like Novo Brescia, taking with them their barbecue techniques and spreading the delights of the barbecue across the country, so much so that barbecue restaurants began popping up everywhere; including around the world, with countries like Portugal and the United States playing host to churrascaria restaurants.

Using Churrasco

Using Churrasco

Using Churrasco

The technique that would spread as fast as the wildfire that annually threatens Brazil’s delicate ecosystem is all about using skewers. It can be used with a variety of different meats, such as pork, chicken and sausage. These are cooked on a purpose-built ‘churrasqueira’, which is a barbecue grill that normally has supports for spits or skewers built into it. However, some Brazilian ‘churrasqueiras’ do away with the grill, simply cooking the meat on skewers above the embers. Alternatively, the meat can be cooked on large metal or wood skewers that rest on a support, or simply stuck into the ground and the meat roasted using the embers of charcoal or wood. If you head to a Brazilian barbecue restaurant you’ll be treated to waiters carrying skewers of grilled meat around the restaurant, slicing the meat onto your plate as requested.

If placing the meat on skewers over a rack, fattier items are normally placed on the top so that the juices will drip down and flavour the cuts below. If you’re already adept at cooking kebabs you’ll have probably already noticed this, and you’re not going to have many problems with cooking with the Churrasco style as it’s pretty similar.

Popular Brazilian Barbecue Foods

Popular Brazilian Barbecue Foods

Popular Brazilian Barbecue Foods

The most popular cut of grilled meat in Brazil is Picanha. This is a cut of beef that’s seldom seen outside of the country, as elsewhere it is often cut into the rump, the round and the loin instead. If you want to get hold of it outside Brazil then the best match would be the rump cap. The best way to cook it is to put it on a spit over charcoal, as seen in the following video.

The second most popular cut of meat in Brazil is baby beef (“bebe beefey”). Due to it being a delicacy it’s the most expensive of the cuts used for churrasco, but it’s tenderness, leannes and tastiness is worth the cost. It comes from the tenderloin section of a cow.

Brazil it Tends to be Cooked on the Grill as Another Style of Sirloin

Brazil it Tends to be Cooked on the Grill as Another Style of Sirloin

Brazilians have also adapted the traditional Portuguese dish of Alcatra, which is a top sirloin cut. This is usually served in a way similar to pot roast, but in Brazil it tends to be cooked on the grill as another style of sirloin. Seasoned well it has a smoky flavour and tender bite that’s well worth trying.

In Rio de Janeiro any variation of grilled bovine fillet is a popular barbecue dish, accompanied by rice and beans and a toasted manioc flour mixture that’s known as farofa that can be used for stuffing poultry.

One type of kebab that is cooked using the churrasco style is Churrasquinhos, which contains small bacon pieces inserted between cuts of beef. There is also Churrasco de Frango, which is slow-roasted chicken that can be grilled on a rotisserie.

Here are some more foods that Brazilians love to eat.

So, why not try a Brazilian barbecue during the next World Cup game? Let’s just hope your team wins!

Japanese Barbecue Yakiniku

Barbecues Around The World: Japanese Barbecue Yakiniku

Our Barbecues Around the World series has already looked at the South African Braai, highlight the fact that barbecues are just as popular in South Africa as they are in the USA and Australia. Today we venture further afield and visit Japan, the land of the rising sun and home to Yakiniku. Or is it the home of Yakiniku? It’s a topic that’s become heavily debated in Japan, so let’s take a look.

Yakiniku Origins

Yakiniku Origins

Yakiniku Origins

Yakiniku means ‘grilled meat’, which is obviously what barbecues are all about doing. It originally referred to the barbecue of western food in Robun Kanagaki’s Seiyo Ryoritsu (Western Food Handbook) in 1872. Since then it has become commonly referred to the Japanese style of cooking bite-sized meat such as beef and offal on gridirons or griddles; either over wood charcoals or with a gas/electric grill. In North America, it is generally referred to as simple a ‘Japanese barbecue’.

Eating Yakiniku

Eating Yakiniku

Eating Yakiniku

Whatever the origins of the dish, yakiniku restaurants became popular in Japan during the 20th century. If you ever visit one of these restaurants you’ll be expected to order several different raw ingredients to be delivered to your table. For example, beef is one of the most common meats consumed during a Yakiniku but you can also use types of pork, offal, chicken and seafood. Vegetables will also be cooked alongside the meat; such as shiitake mushrooms, onions, peppers and more.

Each diner is expected to grill their own food, and can do so by using the grill that’s built into the table. After they are cooked you should dip your meat and vegetables in sauces known as tare (this sauce can take a variety of forms depending on the chef, but it’s generally described as a sweeter and thicker form of soy sauce when used for grilling), with the meat being thinly sliced for this purpose. There is usually a variety of side dishes too, such as Korean Kimchi (fermented vegetables with a variety of seasonings) and Bibimbap (warm rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables).

Visiting a yakiniku restaurant is a great social activity, as like your average western barbecue everyone gathers around the food under a party atmosphere. It’s customary to share food in  Japan too, so be prepared to share your plate with others at the table.

There’s still a lot more to say about Japanese barbecue food, including Yakitori (grilled chicken), but we’ll leave it there for now as we’re already considering jumping on a plane and jetting off to taste some authentic Japanese barbecues. At home, you may be able to try it by using something like a table top grill, but we think this is definitely something to visit a specialised Japanese restaurant for.