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What kind of charcoal is used to cook on a hibachi?


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Posted (edited)

Our son arrives soon bringing with him a new hibachi.  He's never cooked on a hibachi before.  We've never done it either.  He's asked that we buy the charcoal.  

But the question is:  what kind of charcoal should we buy?   Thanks.

Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

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If you really want to do the Japanese thing correctly, the stuff you're looking for is called "bincho tan".  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binchōtan  It is beautiful to look at, burns hotter than normal charcoal, and is extremely difficult to find outside of Japan.  I gather that there are some hexagonal sticks of charcoal that try to mimic bincho tan. If that is impossible or out of budget, big solid lump charcoal is the thing... 

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There are a few places around the GTA that sell bincho tan.  It's expensive stuff, and quite frankly - not necessary.

 

Find yourself some really good hard lump charcoal - I get mine from a guy who imports from Argentina and buy a few big bags for each season, but its really hard wood and burns hot and long.

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The Korin company,  was my source for the Binchotan.

 

Heck back in the days we cooked with Kingsford,  :)

 

Cowboy lump/ or Jealous devil  are my lump products

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Its good to have Morels

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1 hour ago, Paul Bacino said:

 

Heck back in the days we cooked with Kingsford,  :)

 

Thinking that if your purpose is just use as a small outdoor grill the grocery store charcoal works fine - like Kingsford.Last I looked they had mesquite type as well as regular

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26 minutes ago, heidih said:

Thinking that if your purpose is just use as a small outdoor grill the grocery store charcoal works fine - like Kingsford.Last I looked they had mesquite type as well as regular

Bingo.  Thanks.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Posted (edited)

You should find a few choices of lump charcoal, like mentioned, at any big box type store. Like Cowboy charcoal

 

Not necessary to look for the traditional Binchotan. It is impressive burning hot and long with low smoke but fussy to get going. 

I only use it for a long outdoor brunch for a crowd. Just once during lockdown just the two of us. We had multiple small bites over a few hours. It is expensive but can be extinguished and used again. 

Rarely have meals that way. Rather have a few cold sides and salads prepped ahead, then a mixed grill of vegetables and various proteins. Still plenty of heat left using lump charcoal to grill halved peaches or something sweet for a dessert. Skewered mixed fruits. 

Most hibachi styles now are easy to add a few coals once grilling is under way. 

 

My memory of Kingsford is that it stunk. But probably due to overuse of lighter fluids. 

 

The imposter Thai binchotan I have is fine but doubt I'll purchase again when this box is gone. 

 

IMG_3340.jpeg

Edited by Annie_H (log)
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Like others here, I feel binchotan is not worth the price or effort to locate -- regular lump charcoal will suffice.

And regarding the pic posted by Annie_H, I'm guessing the box says "binchotan-style" which is incorrect. It's extruded charcoal:

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So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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Oh, and pick up a charcoal chimney for your son...

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So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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2 hours ago, Joe Blowe said:

Oh, and pick up a charcoal chimney for your son...

Chimney starters have become the norm for starting coals. Can't imagine any other way. 15-20 bucks and last for years. 

Look a bit funky after five but still do the job easily without lighter fluid.  

Charcoal Briquettes get a bum rap for good reason imho. A compressed product with binders and fillers and sawdust. And who knows what else. Some add excelerators for an easy start. 

 

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1 hour ago, Annie_H said:

Chimney starters have become the norm for starting coals. Can't imagine any other way. 15-20 bucks and last for years. 

Look a bit funky after five but still do the job easily without lighter fluid.  

Charcoal Briquettes get a bum rap for good reason imho. A compressed product with binders and fillers and sawdust. And who knows what else. Some add excelerators for an easy start. 

 

My kids like to help me gather dry sticks to use as kindling to start our chimney's.  Not a fan of chemicals, esp near food!

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What are you cooking? And what kind of grill is it? Lump charcoal is probably fine. Royal Oak hardwood lump charcoal (big red bag) is some of the best that's widely available.

 

Binchotan is optimally used with highly efficient ceramic konros/robata/"hibachis" or bigger ceramic kamado grills. The overall experience of using those grills with the charcoal is much different than normal western grilling over lump charcoal. Binchotan actually burns cooler, but it is incredibly dense and so it radiates out more IR than an equal volume of ordinary charcoal and will do so for a longer time. This is mostly true of compressed extruded "binchotan" products like Thaan and Korin's sumi charcoal, but these are less dense than the real stuff. These products also don't burn as cleanly (or as long) as true binchotan does. It's not really the sort of product you'd bust out to make burgers and hot dogs for a cookout. Binchotan is something you have a relationship with as you cook. You manipulate the charcoal with tongs to even out (or concentrate, or disperse) the heat as you cook, and use a fan to wake it up if it starts to cool down.

 

A box of binchotan has different warnings than your normal bag of Kingsford.

 

IMG_7458.thumb.jpg.b4796490e6017a27823052dad188403f.jpg

 

IMG_7464.thumb.jpg.78ea8bbfec81f89507935459728a5e0a.jpg

 

This is aramaru binchotan from Korin. It's a product of Vietnam and isn't made from the hard white oak that the good stuff is. Korin hasn't had it for a while, but it was the most economical way to get something approaching "real" binchotan without paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars for a box: 

 

IMG_7461.thumb.jpg.ae94287fad1acb49b0a7540120b13e4d.jpg

 

When you look in the box of Korin's sumi charcoal, it looks much different. They're very dense bars/briquettes of extruded carbonized... something or other. Sawdust or coconut shells or something. Similar in that way to normal western briquettes, but these are much denser. There's a small hole in the middle of the extruded binchotan. Thaan is made the same way, but looks darker, is softer, and isn't as dense. I prefer the Sumi over Thaan, but you can get Thaan on Amazon so... that's convenient. Anyway, here's the sumi:

 

IMG_7468.thumb.jpg.7c892fbce9d671a3ae822599e8030d4b.jpg

 

And here's some Thaan inside my konro when I first got it.

 

IMG_7391.thumb.JPG.ddb31574e9d37ec3df961d435622542f.JPG

 

Dark, stackable, denser than western briquettes. But softer, less dense, and dirtier than sumi or good bincho.

 

And good bincho gets that *glow*: 

File_007.thumb.jpeg.0b91728003560c85a37a8c1a584fb57f.jpeg

 

Anyway, TLDR: You should probably just use Royal Oak.

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47 minutes ago, btbyrd said:

What are you cooking? And what kind of grill is it? Lump charcoal is probably fine. Royal Oak hardwood lump charcoal (big red bag) is some of the best that's widely available.

 

 

I had no idea of what I was asking with my question.  Asking on a gourmet cooking forum, I should  have known better.  

 

I don't know what our son intends to grill.  I don't know what kind of hibachi he is bringing.  I suspect it will be fairly small.  He barbecues a lot at home, but uses propane only.  He simply asked could we buy some charcoal and I thought...what kind of charcoal do I buy?  Heidih had it correctly...just a small grill with regular grocery store type charcoal.  I just had no idea what sorts of charcoal were to be bought in grocery stores.  

 

Thanks for all your trouble.  You and all the others who answered this question.  

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I believe we could milk this a little further if you'd like 🤣

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So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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19 hours ago, Darienne said:

Thanks for all your trouble.  You and all the others who answered this question.  

lol, no problem. I actually enjoyed the posts about the different charcoal varieties burning. 

I mostly use wood fired and have old growth fruit wood,-- plum, pear and apple. Always something to learn. 

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I should add. I get an odd Feedspot e-mail that lists a dozen various food related forums and recent postings. This post was featured a few days ago. So many around the web lurk and learn. No information goes un-noticed. 

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Everythings been said. IMO it's worth getting bincho and at least here locally it's not all that hard to get. Usually the Korean markets carry it in the LA area and I could prob get the Japanese stuff if I really wanted it. 

 

Just remembered I have an end of a bag from the local Japanese market. I'll post a  picture. 

 

 

376E1143-E70F-434C-96A8-A7503714B34C.jpeg

image.jpg

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