They’ve been part of our takeaway orders for generations. We explore the history of Chinese/Australian takeaway classics, including the dim sim, lemon chicken and sweet & sour pork.
Barbecue is great. Everyone loves a barbecue. Some may even argue that there’s nothing more Aussie than a barbecue. One thing is for sure, barbecue is enjoyed in a hell of a lot of countries across the world, and especially in Asia.
Obviously, there are similarities – marinated meat, sauces, side dishes, veggies, a grill – but each nation has put its own unique spin on burning food on a barbie.
So here’s a quick foodie trip around the different barbecues of Asia.
China, Hong Kong and Macau
In the north of China, barbecue – known as shaokao – is predominantly found on busy streets and night markets. It’s generally sold as street and hawker food. Shaokao typically consists of heavily spiced foods stuck on skewers and is hugely popular in the capital Beijing.
Down south, Chuanr is a very popular type of barbecue. Chuanr originated in the Xinjiang province and is another very popular street food. Chicken, pork, beef, and various
types of seafood are most common, but in tourist hotspots, you’ll also find bugs, birds, and reptiles.
Char-siu is what you’ll find throughout Hong Kong and Macau. Most commonly pork, pork barbecue is made with a marinade of honey and soy sauce and cooked in long, narrow strips.
Barbecuing is hugely popular in Japan, though there’s a larger emphasis on veggies and seafood than most other parts of Asia. Soy-based sauces are usually used, generating a much more savoury taste than some of the sweeter marinades you’ll find in China.
Yakitori is probably the most popularized type of barbecue and is served in izakaya across the country. Translating as “grilled bird”, the chicken skewers are glazed with delicious sauces and turned quickly. Teriyaki is sometimes barbecued as well.
Taiwan is fast emerging as a food hotspot, and barbecue is becoming an essential part of the cuisine.
You’ll find slices of meat marinated in soy sauce and often sandwiched between some bread. Seafood and vegetables are also common, sometimes seasoned and wrapped in tinfoil packages before grilling. Outdoor barbecuing is now the most common way to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival (harvest festival) in Taiwan after a very successful barbecue sauce campaign inspired the nation. Taiwanese sausages are incredibly popular around this time. Most surprisingly, despite the name, Taiwan is the origin of Mongolian barbecue. It consists of sliced meat, noodles and vegetables quickly cooked over a flat circular metal surface.
Mongolian barbecue is a relatively new food trend, emerging in Taiwan in the 1950s and influenced by Japanese teppanyaki and Chinese stir-fry. It’s also popular in certain regions of China.
Satay. You’ve all had it, and yes it’s barbecue. You’ll find it in several Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Most common meats are chicken, lamb, and beef, and, in non-Muslim areas, you might also find satay made from pork and animal offal.
In the mountainous regions of North Borneo – I’ve always wanted to write that – the local Kadazan people’s eat snake meat satay. Before 1990, it was possible to get satay of animals like tapir, elephants, flying fox, goannas and wild boar, which is probably why so many of those species are endangered.
Lechon is a masterpiece of barbecuing perfection, and it’s all thanks to the Philippines. Found at just about any occasion Filos want to celebrate, lechon is suckling pig similar cooked on a spit over charcoal. Adopted from Spanish sailors who took it with them from the Carribean, it is one of the most delicious meals you can have in the island nation.
Filo barbecue also includes skewered pork or chicken, marinated in and basted with a sweetish sauce made from ketchup, pineapple juice and 7-Up, and sometimes a local concoction called java sauce.
In the city-state of Singapore, barbecue mostly consists of charcoal-fired meat (chicken, pork, beef) marinated in from soy sauce, pepper, salt, sugar, and oyster sauce.
Taiwanese sausages are also very popular.
Often thought of as the home of Asian barbecue, the nomadic Mongol tribes use several different barbecue methods. Khorkhog uses white-hot stones set over a fire and a pot with layers of lamb placed inside.
Boodog – “boo” means wrap in Mongolian – traditionally uses marmot or goats, but may be any meat that’s available. It’s not for the faint of heart either. After slaughter and dressing, the offal is put back inside the carcass through a small hole – not sure which one – and the whole carcass is cooked over the fire.
So now you’ve got information on grilling meat all over Asia, it’s up to you to go try some