Shichirin, the Japanese table grill
The special thing about grilling with the Shichirin is the cosy sitting together around the fire. Comparable to gourmets, the delicious food is presented on the table in small portions. When using a Shichirin, friends and family take place around the grill and everyone prepares his or her own food as desired. A Shichirin is a compact and versatile Japanese BBQ that you can easily take with you or move around at any time. With this grill you can enjoy and create cosiness on and around the dining table.
Now, grilling on a Shichirin / Binchotan grill is not just BBQing. This is a whole other discipline. More refined, more elegant and smaller. No half pigs or whole chickens here, but small refined dishes that need more precision. It is recommended to use the charcoal Binchotan, which burns longer at a more intense temperature and is more neutral than ordinary charcoal. With this charcoal, you will grill with the precision of a Swiss watch!
A piece of Japanese history
The influence of Japan is also an integral part of our post-war gastronomic history. But what is it with Japan? Time and again, Japan confirms its status as an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Japan is a high culture and has been an empire for more than 2500 years with a central government and a central organisation. Moreover, Japan closed itself off from the outside world for centuries. It has therefore created a world all of its own.
When you do not have to worry about whether there is enough food to satisfy your hunger, and when you get out of bed, trusting that there is always enough time, then you can devote yourself to culture making. There is an opportunity to perfect, to become a shokunin. And that is precisely what we usually admire so much about Japan. In stark contrast to us, in today's Japan one finds the focus and dedication to spend 20 years or more specialising in something.
By the way, we already know the Shichirin grill from the history of the Japanese Edo period in 1603. Shichirin is a compound word that simply means '7 wheels' or '7 rings'. It has to do with the fact that during the Edo period, the rin (from the end of the word Shichirin) was a currency. During this period, these table grills became very popular and were used daily as kitchen appliances. At first, the use of this grill was reserved for the Samurai, nobility and wealthier citizens. Later, this changed and the Japanese table grill was used among all strata of society. The versatile Japanese barbecue was widely used on festive occasions such as folk festivals in the open air, even in the cold season. A classic Japanese autumn dish is Pacific Jackfish, for example. But the Shichirin grill is also used to this day at tea ceremonies, which are very popular in Japan.
In the past, most Japanese BBQs were made of river clay. Nowadays the composition is a bit more complex. A Shichirin grill nowadays has to be a powerhouse and is made of ceramic, quartz and cordierite. This composition is baked at a very high temperature and then becomes a complete kitchen-in-one and virtually indestructible. The grill has a glazed coating for easy maintenance. By adjusting the ventilation slides, you create the perfect air circulation. The Japanese barbecue is also perfect for use in the winter, because the glazed ceramic also protects against rain and snow and is therefore weatherproof. Please note that it is open at the top, so for use in times of rain and winter it is wise to use it under a roof in the garden.
Accessories for the Shichirin
While grilling on the Shichirin, use is made of tweezers. These have a centuries-old tradition. At the table you choose 1 grill master, who will work with the straight tweezers (this may only be used to pick up raw meat). All the other people at the table are given curved tweezers with which they can pick up the grilled meat from the Shichirin. This is to prevent cross-contamination!
The most famous Japanese dish that is prepared on the Shirchirin is Yakitori. Yaki means 'grilled', tori means 'chicken'. The Yakitori-ya small shops or restaurants specialise in everything that can be grilled from chicken on skewers. So not just the fillet or thigh, but think of the intestines, the skin, intestines, tail and cartilage. Nothing goes to waste, this really is eating from head to tail. Something that is receiving a lot of attention again these days. Grilling with Yakitori skewers is very popular. For this, vegetables, pieces of chicken or fish are skewered on long, thin needles. Using the stainless steel Yakitori bars, you then place these above the high fire (900-950 °C) in the Shichirin. This is currently only available for the rectangular Shichirin.
A teppanyaki plate is available for the round Shichirin. Teppanyaki is a type of food preparation from Japanese cuisine in which an iron plate (teppan) is used to fry food. Fresh ingredients are brought into contact with the glowing plate for as short a time as possible on a teppanyaki plate and are seared at lightning speed, thus retaining their colour, flavour and nutrients. Cooking on a Teppanyaki plate is therefore easy, healthy and very tasty. And you can transform your Japanese grill into a whole new concept in no time at all!
Shichirin and Binchotan charcoal
Whether you are using the Japanese table grill in combination with the grid, the teppanyaki or the yakitori bars, the Shichirin comes out best with Binchotan charcoal. It is precisely with this product that you can make a huge difference in the precision of cooking. Never just say charcoal to Binchotan. Traditionally, Binchotan is used in a Shichirin. This special charcoal (also called white charcoal) is a unique charcoal product that originated in Japan. Binchotan is one of the best natural fuels in the world. This special premium charcoal reaches temperatures of up to 1000 - 1200°C and has an average carbon percentage of 95 - 98%. It is still made by hand from wood species such as Lychee, Maitiew, Konia or Eucalyptus. This process takes more than 9 days and the result is a premium charcoal with a ceramic-like structure. Once ignited, it burns extremely long and develops little odour and ash.
The extremely high cooking temperature reached by the charcoal allows you to achieve optimum results with food that remains deliciously juicy on the inside. A small amount of Binchotan is enough to run the Binchotan grill for hours. Binchotan is as hard as iron and does not crumble. Its internal structure resembles a maze of interconnected pores, each with an area of 250 m² per gram. In Japanese cuisine, Binchotan enhances the aroma and flavour of food.
To burn Binchotan, it is best to first create a softer charcoal bed with, with for example, Acacia charcoal. Then place the Binchotan diagonally on the hot charcoal bed. In this way, Binchotan is easily lit. It is also possible to light Binchotan with a gas burner, but this takes about 15 minutes.
Besides Binchotan, BBQ Flavour Briquettes Koko-Quick and BBQ Flavour Briquettes Hexagon are also ideal for use in the Shichirin.