Over the weekend I got to make the most delicious grilled chicken kebabs with yoghurt, paprika and lemon. Those along with a few tasty sides made for a fabulous Greek-inspired lunch. I marinated the chicken the night before which makes all the difference. The flavours get locked in and the yoghurt does a superb job of tenderising the meat. I grilled them on my brand new Hida Konro hibachi grill and I’m here to tell you just how incredible it is.
I live on my own and have wanted a way to grill food that is easy and accessible without all the rigmarole of lighting a large fire in my braai (BBQ). It’s simply a case of firing up a few pieces of smokeless and dense Binchotan charcoal directly over my kitchen gas hob and then transferring it to my grill.
If you had watched the latest season of MasterChef Australia, you would have seen hibachi’s used in almost every episode. This piece of equipment is highly on trend and widely used in top restaurants around the world.
Grills of Japan in Cape Town are importers of a lovely range of Japanese table grills. These grills are made from lightweight diatomaceous earth so are portable (you can take them away for the weekend, camping or to a friend’s house). They are designed to cook on your tabletop, so depending on what you cook, can be smokeless and used indoors.
South Africans are hardwired to cook over a fire so this new dining trend is right up our alley and I’m smitten. I already have my eye on a bigger one for when dinner parties become the order of the day again.
Cooking over highly prized Binchotan charcoal is a revelation and a total joy. It’s all-natural and smokeless and reaches very high temperatures. This is also available from Grills of Japan.
What is Binchotan charcoal?
Although our grills can be used with any charcoal we would recommend using Binchotan charcoal which is known as the King of all charcoals, a favourite amongst Yakitori bars all over Japan due to its clean-burning properties and the amazing aroma and flavour it imparts when grilling.
Binchotan is the perfect charcoal for barbequing due to its long steady burning properties, and food grilled over binchotan results in a juicier texture and heightened flavours compared to other charcoal. There is little to no smoke and is odourless when burning, so the flavour of the food is kept pure and what’s more, there are minimal flare-ups. This, of course, all changes when you add fatty meat to the grill.
How to prepare your binchotan charcoal for your hibachi grill.
Heat your binchotan charcoal in the starter pot over the gas flame of your hob – about 10 – 15 minutes. Turn your binchotan over to ensure you have a good burn throughout. Transfer the hot binchotan to the grill and wait 10 minutes to build the heat before you start cooking. To keep a good consistent heat, knock off the ash regularly to release heat when grilling.
Binchotan can be reused so when the grilling is done, extinguish it either in a Grills of Japan Extinguishing pot or dip the pieces in water for 30 seconds. These can be dried in the sun for your next grill.
To find out more about the range of tabletop grills, visit the Grills of Japan website.
What to serve with your grilled chicken kebabs:
Hibachi grills get blazing hot, so combined with the yoghurt marinade, these kebabs reminded me of chicken cooked in a tandoor. Tender, juicy and delicious. I did a Greek-style theme for my launch and made a very simple salad of mixed tomatoes, red onion and mint.
I suggest making tzatziki – and you can find my recipe for zucchini tzatziki here. Or alternatively, just use a spoonful of yoghurt and all the other salady bits with fresh mint. Mixed green leaves add the crunchy element to your filled pita pockets and honestly, this is my favourite kind of food.
Oh – I made the pita from scratch which was a game-changer and so easy, but I’m going to save that for its own whole blog post.
While we enjoyed our chicken kebabs, I grilled a rib-eye steak on the bone for my dinner. Sitting at a table eating and cooking simultaneously was a first for me.
A few more Greek-inspired recipes you might like:
Chicken kebabs with yoghurt, paprika and lemon
- 500 gms free range deboned skinless chicken thigh meat
- ¾ cup plain yoghurt can be low or full fat
- 1 tsp paprika
- Lemon zest peels in strips from a lemon using a vegetable peeler
- 1 – 2 Tbsp lemon juice from half a lemon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black peppercorns roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar
- 3 – 4 thyme stalks
- A few sprigs of mint bruised slightly or torn
- Wooden or metal skewers
- Fresh lemon juice
- Make in advance: Place all of the ingredients into a medium-sized Ziploc bag and squeeze the chicken to ensure the marinade is mixed and all the pieces are covered. Place the bag lying plat in a dish in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to cook the chicken, remove from the fridge to bring to room temperature (giving the chicken and marinade a good squeeze).
- Cut the chicken into small pieces or just thread them as is ensuring they are evenly spaced on the skewer and slightly flattened out (you don’t want the meat too bunched up). Scrape off any excess marinade and discard the bigger bits. Leave a thin layer on the chicken for grilling.
- Cook your skewers over your grill, turning frequently until cooked and starting to char around the edges. Season to taste with salt and pepper and squeeze fresh lemon juice (optional).
*Disclaimer – Grills of Japan gave. me a Hida Konro HK4 table grill