Japanese Barbeques

Japanese BBQ – Konro, Hibachi, Shichirin – Take your pick

July 10, 2010 5 Comments
konro hibachi

I was sitting around a Japanese bbq with two friends grilling some fine wagyu while sacrificing a few Sapporo Maltsu (maltsu maltsu) when a heated exchange broke out about what kind of bbq we were grilling on.

Barry (the names have been changed to protect what dignity we all have left) commented, “It’s so good to be able to share a few beers around a Hibachi.”

“Hibachi? That’s a Shichirin mate,” pipes up Keith, “Look it’s round, all Shichirin are round.” “Actually Konro can be round too,” I offer. Two looks of disdain as suddenly Keith shouts, “Quick the wagyu’s burning”.

A few mores beers and half a cow later we came up with the solution – my house, my rules.

shichirin-hibachi-japanese-bbq

Chicken wings now ready to eat

The rules on what kind of barbeque it is by LH

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Hibachi

Round ceramic or metal pots with or without inserts and antique wooden fire chests lined with fireproof material tend to be called Hibachi. The Hibachi was used in houses as the central heat source in the living area  and along with the the Tetsubin – iron pot – was the source for hot water before the advent of gas and electricity. The Hibachi and Tetsubin also became an ornamental feature in homes when entertaining guests. The Hibachi was filled with ash to house the charcoal and was often used as a heat source for toasting small items such as yakitori and rice cakes. Rusty old iron tabletop bbqs are also called Hibachi by Americans.

Shichirin

The Shichirin was a purpose built cooking stove in Japan which was fired by charcoal. They are small, round and moulded from a type of clay (though you can find some ceramic). The best Shichirin are made from diatomaceous earth which have natural thermal insulating properties.

shichirin from Chefs Armoury

Quail eggs grilling on the shichirin

Konro

Square, rectangular, tiny, round or “other” are all called Konro. Generally speaking, Konro are portable cooking stoves. These days they are fueled by gas but there are also some specifically made for barbequing which are simply termed Barbeque Konro in katakana, which tend to be placed on tabletops.

The very best Konro are made from diatomaceous earth or keisoudo mixed with volcanic ash. Diatomaceous earth is a natural product derived from fossilised remains of plankton mixed with volcanic ash. This material is favoured due to its high porosity and excellence in thermal insulation. When used in conjunction with binchotan, a Konro made from diatomaceous earth reflects the heat back into the cooking area while little heat is lost out the sides.
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Chefs Tips

  • Use binchotan – white charcoal – for best bbq flavour – used by all good yakitori bars in Japan.
  • If you don’t have binchotan use try to use good quality charcoal with a minimal amount of impurities.
  • Never use synthetic fire starters or lighter fluid to ignite your charcoal as it will affect the flavour of your food.

Japanese Barbeque Konro and Shichirin are available at Chef’s Armoury.

Japanese konro bbq

Cooking outdoors with the tabletop barbeque konro

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5 Comments

Daphne Law July 19, 2010 at 7:40 pm

It was nice meeting you at the Good Food and Wine Show on Friday and Saturday. I got to see the Barbeque Konro with the skewer of quail eggs, although the quail eggs seem to be missing on the Saturday. Hope to see you all soon at your free events in August.

Reply
hudson July 19, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Quails eggs needed to be removed, too real. We buy our food models from the top model maker in Japan. Each model costs about as much as a good dinner for two (including drinks) in Tokyo.

Reply
Daphne Law July 20, 2010 at 1:00 am

I wanted to go on the tour being organised to see how to make food models and such. Alas, education comes first. Maybe next time if it happens again.

Reply
Rockpool » Blog Archive » Kitchen covet December 3, 2012 at 10:31 am

[…] barbecue Called a konro, these portable Japanese barbecues run on charcoal and bring out the wonderful flavours of meat and […]

Reply
Hb July 12, 2016 at 12:00 am

Watching chef on masterchef it was a magnificent way of cooking. Very impressed

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