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Asian BBQ: A Balancing Act

May 31, 2018 BY Dax

INTRODUCTION:

Asian BBQ is a big departure from the backyard slow-cooking BBQ we grew up with in America. The flavors are exciting, some of it is slow roasted, while others are cooked right at the table. Most often Asian BBQ can be characterized by small pieces of meat that have been marinated for hours, which act as a flavor enhancer and tenderizer, then is grilled over intense heat. The different regions and profiles of this part of the world share characteristics – they employ a savory, sweet and a slight heat balance, none overpowering the other. The marination process is also a common characteristic, with few outliers saving the sauce for the end of the cooking process.

Recent culinary trends show that Americans are in love with new ethnic flavors, and in particular, Asian profiles. It’s evident in the popularity of new Asian fast food chains and the insurgence of Asian ingredients on our traditional grocery shelves. Combine this fascination with Asian cuisine and the data showing Americans are actively seeking savory, meaty and sweet ethnic products, a clear argument can be made that Asian BBQ may be an easy win for any product line from snacks to sausages.

DATA:

DRIVERS FOR MENU ITEMS WITH NEW AND UNIQUE FLAVORS, SAUCES, AND SEASONINGS

Source: Mintel
Base: 1,967 internet users aged 18+ who have purchased food from a restaurant in the past month.

TURF ANALYSIS: FLAVORS SOUGHT, DECEMBER 2016

Americans are looking for specific combinations of flavors to be built on each other – flavor layering, so to speak. These flavors often describe Asian BBQ.

“When purchasing or eating international food, what flavors do you seek out?”


Source: Lightspeed / Mintel       
Base:
1,926 internet users aged 18+ who eat international foods

TOTAL US RETAIL SALES AND FORECAST OF INTERNATIONAL FOODS, BY SEGMENT.

Global-inspired food has been and will continue to be on the rise. Asian products in particular, while still behind Hispanic foods, show stronger growth both past and future. This upward trend indicates there is a lot more room and acceptance for new Asian-inspired products.

Source: Based on Information Resources Inc. Infoscan reviews: US Census Bureau, Economic, Census / Mintel


INGREDIENT PROFILES:

 

BULGOGI – bo͝olˈgōgē

NATIONALITY: Korean

MEAT: Beef, thinly sliced – sirloin, flank, skirt, tenderloin, top round or other prime cut of meat, highly marbled.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS: Soy, ginger,

sugar, onion, sesame oil, sesame seeds.

SAUCE: Sauce is the marinade.

FLAVOR PROFILE: Savory

COOKING PROCESS: Marinated beef is cooked tableside or on a metal plate over a burner. Often pieces of onions or cloves of garlic are cooked with it for added flavor.

SERVED: Often served with doenjang (soy bean paste) and lettuce pieces to be used as a wrap. Sides of banchans such as kimchi or shredded pickled vegetables are customary.

Bulgogi is often served as the main course or as a part of dishes such as bibimbap.

INFORMATION:

  • Dwaeji bulgogi is a pork version of this
  • Marinated for four hours minimum, often overnight for increased tenderness
  • This is the best known Asian BBQ to Americans

GALBI GUI – gal-bē

NATIONALITY: Korean

MEAT: Beef short ribs.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS: Soy, garlic,

sugar, green onion, mirin.

SAUCE: No sauce.

FLAVOR PROFILE: Savory and sweet beef with garlic.

COOKING PROCESS: The short ribs are slow oven-roasted then grilled over high heat, or slow grilled over an open fire.

SERVED: Traditionally found on a hot platter over raw onions that cook as the plate cools.

INFORMATION:

  • Galbi is also known as Kalbi
  • Kalbi is one of Korea’s most famous grilled dishes. Rice wine and oriental pear slices can be added for extra flavor. The marinade tenderizes the meat, which is grilled over charcoal or gas tableside. A variation, dwaeji kalbi-gui (broiled pork spare ribs), uses pork seasoned with sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds and boiled ginger juice before grilling.

JUMULLEOK – jo͞o-mūl-lak

NATIONALITY: Korean

MEAT: Short steak.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS: Sesame oil,

hot pepper and salt.

SAUCE: A mixture of sesame oil and kosher salt is placed in small, personal bowls at the table for the meat to be seasoned with.

FLAVOR PROFILE: Grilled beef with heat and sesame.

COOKING PROCESS: Marinated beef is cooked tableside, on a grill or over a burner.

SERVED: Raw on a platter. Often accompanied by doenjang (soy bean paste) and lettuce pieces to be used as a wrap. Sides of banchans such as kimchi or shredded pickled vegetables are customary.

INFORMATION:

  • Jumulleok is similar to unmarinated gogi gui. One thing that distinguishes it is its steak-like juicy texture.

DWAEJI BULGOGI – duh-ǡ-juh-ee bo͝olˈgōgē

NATIONALITY: Korean

MEAT: Pork, spare ribs.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS: Sesame oil,

soy sauce, garlic, gochujang, sesame seeds and boiled ginger juice.

SAUCE: Sauce is the marinade.

FLAVOR PROFILE: Savory

COOKING PROCESS: The short ribs are slow oven-roasted then grilled over high heat, or slow grilled over an open fire.

SERVED: Served over roasted onions on a hot platter.

INFORMATION:

  • Normally marinated with gochujang versus soy

DAK GALBI – däk-gal-bē

NATIONALITY: Korean

MEAT: Chicken

MARINADE INGREDIENTS: Gochujang,

onion, rice wine, chili flakes, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and sugar.

SAUCE: The generous amounts of marinade acts as the sauce.

FLAVOR PROFILE: Dominant gochujang profile with onions and garlic.

COOKING PROCESS: Cooked in a pot, stone bowl or pan either tableside or in the kitchen. The meat cooks in the marinade with other ingredients, almost like a thick stew.

SERVED: Served in the cooking vessel with lettuce leaves and banchans (Korean condiments).

INFORMATION:

  • A chicken is chopped into medium-sized portions before being marinated. The chicken can be cut without regard to body parts, but care should be used when eating as they will contain pieces of bones.

CHAR SIU – chǡshǡo

NATIONALITY: Chinese, Cantonese

MEAT: Pork – the cuts can vary, but the main ones include pork loin, pork belly, pork butt and pork fat.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS: Hoisin, honey, sherry or mirin, soy sauce and five spice powder

SAUCE: The marinade is brushed on during the cooking process to produce a thick glaze. Other common sauces served with it include XO sauce and hoisin sauce.

FLAVOR PROFILE: Savory and sweet with slight fermented flavor.

COOKING PROCESS: It’s normally slow roasted and smoked on a hook over a fire. This is the most closely related to American BBQ style of all the Asian BBQ methods.

SERVED: Sliced with rice, noodles or on steamed buns.

INFORMATION:

  • Literally means fork roast: Siu = burn or roast, and char = fork, in reference to the skewer
  • It consists of a long strip of seasoned boneless pork skewered by a fork, and then roasted over a fire
  • This particular style is very popular and found in many Southeastern Asian countries in various forms.
  • If you have gone to any Chinatown across the country and noticed large, long slabs of pork hanging in the windows, this is char siu

YAKINIKU – ya-ki-ni-ku

NATIONALITY: Japanese

MEAT: Beef – Short ribs, shoulder and loins. Beef – Motsu = discarded items.

Beef – Offals = tongue, glands, hearts, tripe. Pork, Chicken, Seafood: Squid and shrimp, Vegetables.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS: Soy  sauce, sugar, mirin, garlic, miso, chili peppers, sake.

SAUCE: No sauce, the marinade acts as what little sauce is present.

FLAVOR PROFILE: Savory

COOKING PROCESS: Marinated beef is cooked table side or on a metal plate over a burner. Often pieces of onions or cloves of garlic are cooked with it for added flavor.

INFORMATION:

  • Yakiniku = grilled
  • Considered a variation of Korean BBQ Bulgogi that was modified to Japanese taste. Often referred to as cousins
  • Cooked at the table like Korean BBQ

SATAY – säˌtā

NATIONALITY: Thailand and Philippines

MEAT: Traditionally chicken, but can be pork or beef as well.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS: Soy sauce, lemon grass, garlic, coriander, turmeric and fish sauce.

SAUCE: Thai peanut sauce – peanuts, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime, chili peppers, soy sauce, garlic.

FLAVOR PROFILE: Citrus notes with savory turmeric profiles.

COOKING PROCESS: Quick-grilled over open flames.

SERVED: Considered Thai street food and is served on the skewer to the public.

INFORMATION:

  • The meat is skewered on bamboo sticks and marinated in a thinned paste

 


TANDOORI – tanˈdo͝orē

NATIONALITY: India

MEAT: Chicken, primarily legs and thighs.

MARINADE INGREDIENTS: Yogurt

SAUCE: Served with fresh lime.

FLAVOR PROFILE: Dairy base with citrus and garam masala notes.

COOKING PROCESS: It is traditionally skewered and cooked in a  high-heat  clay oven known as a tandoori. It is also made in a standard oven, roasted, then finished on grill or cooked completely over a slow grill.

SERVED: Served on a platter with limes.

INFORMATION:

  • With its bright red color, it may be one of the most identifiable Indian dishes.

CONCLUSION

While there is excitement around the exploration of Asian BBQ, as developers we also need to be mindful of how we present it. From the earlier charts, Americans say they are open to safe exploration of global flavors, but we have a responsibility to go before them, find those great flavors and then make it approachable. A prime example is that while bulgogi as a flavor profile may be very well accepted, the name can scare the average consumer away. But, put that same dish in front of the same group and tell them it is Korean BBQ, the acceptance rate will go up drastically. Remember our job is not only to find the next dish, but to also clear the path so consumers can approach it easily as well.

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