In this episode of The Little Kitchen That Could, we are switching the gear a bit. And it’s literally “we,” as I actually have a contributor in this special edition— my boyfriend.
So M.B. decided that he was craving some yakitori, the Japanese grilled chicken on a skewer over hot charcoal, and instead of yelping for a yakitori restaurant in San Francisco, he would like to make them himself.
After hours of diligent research on the internet, a crazier idea was born— “we should just build our own grill.”
A trip to the hardware wonderland, Home Depot, opened my eyes to the world of grills and barbecues. Maybe it would be easier to just buy one. There is a long aisle of fancy grills priced up to $400, doing whatever a chef’s heart desires. As we temporarily set our minds on a $24.99 tabletop grill— the price seemed to justify skipping the whole shebange of building one— we learned that it was a gas only grill.
One of the things that makes yakitori so tasty is the charcoal and omitting that would make this whole project pointless. So back to building one ourselves, which is a way cooler idea anyway.
Here is our $3.00 grill. To assemble it, put one cinder block on top of another:
2 cinder blocks, $3.00. Fire extinguisher, $19.99.
Starting the grill was a bit challenging. The cinder blocks do not have holes in them, which does not allow air to pass through. But once the fire gets going, it is going (which took about 45 minutes and lots of liquid charcoal lighter):
We used lump charcoal, which is natural and burns much cleaner than briquette
Our assortment of skewers:
Beef, yakitori skewers, and mushrooms
Giant fresh water prawns
And we grilled and grilled…
And we ate and ate…
So the story of a $3.00 grill is a successful one. Not only we had a feast of grilled kebabs, we are damn proud of our ghetto grill. As obsessed as America is with grilling, from Bobby Flay’s face all over TV to that dancing commercial for Weber (took me some time to figure out what they were selling. Cool commercial, though, I ain’t hatin’), has anyone wondered, how did people do it back in the day? Like, how did people cook their meat before titanium was discovered, before propane gas was available? And in every fancy backyard, there need be an equally fancy grill. To Americans, a grill is a symbol of status. An attitude to life. An opening line to brag.
To me, it’s just food. Good food. And helluva lot of fun.