The History of the Kamado Grill
Americans have been cooking food over an open flame since before the Pilgrims arrived. But grilling, believe it or not, has an even older story.
It began over 500,000 years ago after the domestication of fire. Grilling as we know it, however, began to gain popularity more in the 1940s and 50s with backyard and camping barbecues.
This is where the big green egg and hamburger story begins. It starts with an idea in China that made cooking rice efficient and then transformed into what we now know as the Kamado grill.
Where did the Kamado start?
The Kamado style grill has been known as the big, green egg for generations now, or at least since the early 1970s. But it did not originate at the same time as the hippies.
The origins of the Kamado trace back to China where the Chinese developed a ceramic cooking device approximately 3,000 years ago.
During the Qin dynasty, a device called yan-steamer cooked rice efficiently. The developers designed this device specifically to cook rice. China then imported the device to Japan during the Kofun period, and the Japanese called it "kamado."
Transition From an Oven to a Grill
However, the Kamado looks nothing like the Kamado we know today.
Today's grills are based on the ideas of the mushi-kamado. The original meaning of Kamado refers to a cooking range or a hearth, basically a place where a cook would place a pot. So original Kamado cooked items if they were in a pot, but it could not hold meat in it directly.
Over time, the Kamado was retrofitted with a grate for meat, making it much more like the current barbecue than the ancient rice cooker in its history.
Twentieth Century: the Western Explosion
After World War II, Westerners began to see the value of the Kamado, and they began to ship it over one at a time.
Then in the 1970s, Ed Fisher, the Green Egg designer made a lighter kamado less prone to cracking and then painted them green. The Japanese brands typically came in green, orange, or black. So Fisher most likely wanted his designs to have the same Asian flair.
How Does It Work?
The Kamado is a bit, oval sphere, like an egg. As a result, consumers refer to it as the big, green egg.
Rather than heavy-duty steel, the big, green egg has ceramic walls that help retain the heat and create an uber-hot oven. You still use coals, but rather than charcoal briquettes that you must arrange precisely or gas burners you have to adjust, you will fill the kamado grill's lower hemisphere to the brim with lump hardwood charcoal.
With a typical charcoal grill, you arrange the briquettes to control the heat, and with a gas grill, you control the amount of gas on the flame. With the Kamado, you open and close dampers to control the temperature precisely as the cast iron heats up and acts like an oven.
What Makes the Kamado so good?
Typical barbecue grills will dry food out, sucking all the moisture from them as it cooks them from the bottom up. The Kamado helps food retain moisture.
Remember, the original design existed as a rice cooker, and rice cannot cook unless it has moisture that stays in it.
Barbecue kings and queens can use the Kamado for anything they'd use a traditional grill for. They can cook flat-bread pizza when they use a flat ceramic or stone tray. They can cook meat and vegetables without the typical tough and dry texture.
Wood-fire ovens are the closes thing we have to the Kamado. You can both roast and bake with them. Some even have a rotisserie cradle for creating the perfectly juicy chicken or poultry you have with a rotisserie oven.
Kamado grills can maintain temperatures as low as 250 degrees and reach temperatures as high as 750.
What Variations Distinguish Kamado Style Grills?
Kamado grills maintain the same basic design in that they all cook food exactly as described above. But they differ in convenience and cleaning.
Some Kamado dragons have convenient methods of cleaning with ash catchers or trays you can just pull out and empty. Others require a thorough disassembly to be cleaned thoroughly.
Accessories like the kick ash basket can make clean up and convenience even easier for the Kamado, so you do not have to worry about a thorough disassembly or an ashtray.
One of the biggest problems the average consumer has with the big green egg is its price. Cheaper knock-off versions cost around $300, but the actual Kamado costs around $1,000.
You must remember the quality that goes into the Kamado and its history. Its design makes it unique, and its ancient history gives it a solid reputation for quality. The decades of tweaking and improving the green egg make it an enviable tool in the barbecue game.
Do Kamados Have Specific Recipes?
While you can cook anything on a Kamado that you'd cook on a grill (including those tasty hamburgers), the Kamado's design makes it perfect for cooking specific things.
For example, the Kamado is a smoker and not just a grill. So smoke a ham, a chicken, a turkey, or even some cheese on it.
The Kamado also works fantastically as a wood-fire grill or oven. Fire it up for flatbread and pizza.
The convention of the grill in the Kamado made it one of the best tools out there for grilling. Break out a beer and a chicken, and make your beer butt chicken. Season a brisket or some ribs, and then grill those up.
Better yet, test out your toughest piece of meat. Soak it in brine or massage it with a rub, and then cook it low and slow to test out your Kamado.
A Rich History
The Kamado style grill did not matriculate from the mind of a bored barbecue lover. It started as a necessity deep in the heart of Asia, and when Westerners saw it amid a horrible war, they capitalized on the idea.
To learn more about the accessories that keep your Kamado clean, contact us.