Grill of the people


Grill of the people

by: Tetsuo Nakahara | .
Stripes Korea | .
published: June 30, 2014

In parks, beaches and backyards across the United States, Americans can be found firing up the grill to barbeque with family and friends. No more so than on July 4, when the Americans pause to celebrate their independence.

But it’s not like Americans need a reason to BBQ. And by no means does living overseas hinder one’s ability to break out the charcoal or turn on the propane. In fact, those stationed in Japan, Korea and the U.S. territory of Guam, will find that the locals have their own take on barbecue.

Guamanians love to barbecue so much as they simply regard it as “just another way of cooking,” said Rueben Olivas, a barbecue fanatic who authors the blog BBQGuam.

“Barbecuing has been happening on Guam ‘since ever since’ as the island saying goes,” said Olivas. “Guam is known for its hospitality and friendly people. That’s island-style. That is because the people of Guam are always getting together and having parties and fiestas.

“I would have to say that Guam is crazy about barbecuing. There is no need for a special occasion to barbecue,” he said. “Barbecuing on Guam is just part of the daily lifestyle.”

If there’s one thing that stands out at a Guamanian barbecue, it’d have to be the spicy sauces that are are available to dip in. If you’re on Guam and have the opportunity to attend a local barbecue, don’t hesitate dipping your meat into some “finadene” sauce, a spicy concoction made from soy sauce, vinegar, fresh lemon juice, sliced green onions and hot peppers.

Then again, sometimes you don’t need sauce because Guamanians specialize in marinating their meats.

“An island favorite is marinating your meat in the popular island soy-based marinade,” Olivas said. “The typical marinade is one cup soy sauce, one cup vinegar, one diced onion and fresh garlic minced. Some even add a little black pepper and sugar. By allowing your meat to marinate in this mixture you can be sure that the longer you marinate your meat, the tenderer it will become. And the flavor of this marinade is awesome.”

But then again, that wonderful taste won’t necessarily stop a local from dipping their tenderloin or chicken thigh into a spicy sauce.

In Korea and Japan, barbeque is not as popular as it is in the U.S., although many gather on weekends to fire up the grill and party.

“In urban areas, most Koreans live in an apartment complex,” said Hyosun Ro, blog author of Korean Bapsang. “As such, backyard barbecuing is not common. Outdoor barbecuing is usually enjoyed at a park or picnic area. In rural areas, where the houses have a yard, outdoor barbecuing is done right in the yard, typically on a charcoal grill. I don’t think Korea has special occasions for BBQ (like July 4, Memorial Day and Labor Day).”

For people who don’t have space in downtown Tokyo, there are barbeque facilities available to rent. At these places, people can barbeque, and they don’t even have to prepare anything, according to Miwako Kurimoto, a promotion manager at the Japan BBQ Association, which promotes Western-style barbecuing.

“The recent trends in Tokyo is that there are some barbeque facilities where all barbeque equipment is set for you,” said Kurimoto. “You can even pre-order the food at these places so that you can just go there after work to have a barbeque with your friends.”

The most popular barbeque in Japan is yakiniku-style, Kurimoto said. Yakiniku is a name of the Japanese dish which literally means “burn the meat.” For yakiniku, people use thinly sliced beef and grill it for a short time.  You dip it into a sauce after cooking it and then have at it. 

“The big difference from U.S. barbeque and Japanese is probably that we use a flat open grill,” Kurimoto said. “More than 80 percent of the people in Japan don’t use barbeque grill with a cover.”

On Okinawa, barbequing is more rooted in the Okinawan culture, which was influenced greatly by the presence of the U.S. military community. Okinawans call a barbeque on the beach as “beach party,” which are commonplace in the summer, according to Tomoaki Ameku, a manager of Ruler’s restaurant.

“A beach party in Okinawa is easy to set up,” said Ameku, explaining that many folks bring a big tent and plenty of cold drinks. “Most people just barbeque so they can get together and don’t worry too much about cooking. It’s more of a way to hang out together than it is a gourmet event.”

Each area in the Pacific has its own take on grilling. Whereas Guamanians prefer a spicy sauce, the Japanese like grilling seafood and vegetables. Korean are known worldwide for Korean barbecue, mostly enjoyed at a restaurant or inside a home. Galbi is the most popular Koreaen dish to barbecue outdoors, according to Ro, who emphasized that having tender meat is the key to a delicious barbecue.

“Not so secret, but people can use grated Korean/Asian pears, grated onions and alcohol,” said Ro. “These ingredients, which are classic in galbi marinade, help tenderize the meat. Marinating the meat for a long time - overnight for short ribs – also tenderizes the meat.”

Edward Grant, owner of the Seaside BBQ Restaurant on Okinawa, brought his barbeque recipe and opened the restaurant last year. His smoked spareribs has are popular among his diners.

“My family has always used honey because it tenderizes and brings out the true flavor that meat possesses.” Grant said.

Barbequing continues to spread around the Pacific, with each cultural offering a unique taste. So fire up that grill and start cooking!

"What makes a good barbeque?"

“Barbecue can mean something different to any number of people. Regardless of your definition, a good barbecue is the condition of the finished product. The meat must look good, taste good and be tender and juicy. And you got to have a good time while you’re doing it. That is what we all ultimately strive for at the end of the day–good friends, food and fun!!” - Rueben Olivas, author of BBQGuam

“What makes good barbeque is the communication. Of course, the technique of cooking is important, too. But the best part of barbeque is to share the food over the grill with other people.”- Miwako Kurimoto, a promotion manager at Japan BBQ Association

“I was always told growing up when you cook barbecue for family and friends, you have to be consistent with your flavors because you love feeding the people you care about.”- Edward Grant, owner of Seaside BBQ restaurant on Okinawa

“Good quality meat that’s well-seasoned to give a smooth balance of sweet and savory flavors! Even better if grilled over charcoal or wood charcoal.” - Hyosun Ro, blog author of Korean Bapsang.

   Recipes from around the Pacific   

from Edward Grant

Baked beans
My family has always had baked beans for every get together and I have a recipe for baked beans that my mom raised me on.

  • A gallon size can of baked beans 
  • Add 1 finely chopped onion
  • Add  4 slices chopped bacon
  • Add 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • Then layer with cut rings of onion and whole slices of bacon let bake at 400 for about 45 minutes
  • 15 minutes before done add 4 tablespoons of butter

by Rueben Olivas/BBQGUAM

Rueben’s Ribs

  • 1 slab of U.S. pork spare ribs
  • 1 cup of Rib Rub
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar in spray bottle

Trim the rib tips off of the slab. You can grill these while the ribs are cooking and eat these while you and your guests are waiting for the ribs. Just rub these down with rib rub before grilling.

Pull off shiny membrane from the rib’s boney side and discard.

Rub ribs down with a liberal amount of rib rub.

Grill over medium heat until the color of the ribs is to your liking.

Double wrap in heavy duty tin foil. Before closing up the ribs in the tin foil, spray down with the apple cider vinegar to help it steam (cooks ribs down to the bone) and remain juicy.

Cook Ribs in tin foil for about an hour. Open to see if the meat around the rib tips has shrunk back. If so, they are ready to come out of the foil. If not wrap and cook a little longer in the foil.

Once the ribs are cooked and removed from the foil brush bone side with barbecue sauce and place on grill. Then brush the top side of the ribs with the sauce. Grill for a couple of minutes to allow the sauce to harden and flip over. Brush both side twice then remove.

Be very careful not burn the ribs on this final step as the sugars in the sauce with blacken very easily.

Serve rib rack whole for good presentation and cut on table. Provide sauce on the table in a squirt bottle for those who want more sauce.

Say goodbye to Tony Roma’s. Your ribs will be much better and you’ll be proud to say that you made the ribs.

Rib Rub

  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tbsp cayenne pepper (powder)
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed

Mix all ingredients in bowl. For a finer rub, process the ingredients in a spice grinder until well combined and all pieces are uniform.

Note: I only use Sweet Baby Ray’s “Award Winning” BBQ Sauce. I used to slave all day making my own sauce, but this sauce is just as good. Try it out. I’m sure you will like it.

BBQGUAM website

by Hyosun Ro/Korean Bapsang

Galbi (Korean barbecue short ribs)

  • 3-4 pounds beef short ribs


  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup rice wine (or Mirin)
  • ¼ cup (about 1/2 of a medium)   Korean/Asian pear grated
  • ¼ cup (about 1/2 of a medium)   onion grated
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Rinse the ribs and drain water. Trim excess fat. Butterfly the short ribs so the meat is 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. (Or ask your butcher.)

Mix all marinade ingredients well. Marinate the meat for at least 6 hours (overnight for best results). The thicker the meat the longer you’ll want to marinate.

It’s best to grill over charcoal or wood charcoal, but a gas grill works well too. Grill over medium high to high heat, turning only once, 2 – 3 minutes on each side. Make sure to preheat the grill for nice grill marks.

Korean Bapsang website

by Tetsuo Nakahara

Easy and tasty  Teriyaki Chicken

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 pc of sliced fresh garlic
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

Cut chicken into the pieces.

Put chicken pieces into Ziplock bag and add soy sauce.

Add honey and garlic.

Leave it overnight in the fridge. (If you don’t have time, leave it at least one hour.)

Grill with caution because soy sauce can burn easily. Turn it occasionally until cooked.

Soy Scallop
Japanese love scallops, which you can easily find at a supermarket. This recipe can apply to other shell fish such as turban shells, oysters and clams.

Put scallops (in shell) on the grill with flat side on the bottom.

After the shell opens, the scallop will stick on the upper side. And then, turn it. This is to use the arch shape side as the dish for the sauce.

And then the upper shell will be widely open as you keep grill it. You can take the upper shell apart.

Once the scallop is loose enough to come off from the bottom shell, it is ready to eat.

Put a little bit of soy sauce and sake on the top, and add a small piece of butter. It’s ready.

Don’t forget to drink the tasty soup left in the shell which is a combination of scallop juice, soy sauce, sake and butter.

Grilled a whole Tuna Head
If you want to make something different, why not grill a whole giant tuna head. You can usually get a tuna head at a larger fish market in Japan for $20–$40, depending on the size.

Wash the head well with water and dry with paper towel.

Rub salt onto the whole head and leave it for 10 minutes.

Before putting on grill wipe fish head again with paper towel.

Put foil around the whole head. And grill it from the side.

Turn the head every 30 minutes and grill it for about 4–5 hours depending on the size of the head.

Open the foil and check if it is cooked.

(Note) It may look pretty wild, but it can boost the fun at a barbeque. You can eat with soy sauce and lemon. The meat around the eye and cheek is very tasty.

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