In Japan, there is a unique charcoal grill called “Shichirin”. It has been used at home or restaurants since before. It is also used for Japanese barbecue.
To your surprise, unlike ordinary barbecue grills, Shichirin can even optimize flavors of the ingredients and make them more delicious. Today we are going to introduce such advances of Shichirin.
What is Shichirin Grill?
There are several shapes for Shichirin Grill, and the most common is round one as shown in the picture. Most Shichirin Grills have a hollow to put charcoal inside and air vent on the side. It is compact enough to carry, and with smaller inside hollow than barbecue grills, it has higher thermal efficiency, which makes ignition easier.
In Japan, Shichirin Grills were widely used until 1960s, especially for grilling fish. Grilled saury is a typical Shichirin dish. Shichirin Grills are also good for grilling meat and vegetables, and that’s why many Japanese Yakiniku barbecue restaurants use them. These days they are used for outdoor barbecue or at some restaurants aiming for authentic taste.
Origin of Shichirin Grill
There are several explanations why Shichirin Grills were named so. Shichirin has a meaning of “seven circles”. For example, some people say that this is because its bottom pan to put charcoal on has seven holes.
Another explanation was that there was a currency of “Rin (1/1000 JPY)” used in those days and the amount of charcoal corresponding to 7 Rin is enough to ignite a Shichirin Grill.
In any way, charcoal was cheap at that time and Shichirin Grill was playing an important role at home kitchens.
Difference between Shichirin and Barbecue Grill
The biggest difference between Shichirin and barbecue grill is their cooking outcomes. Charcoal grills give off strong far-infrared rays, which makes the ingredients crispy outside and juicy inside. Shichirin and barbecue grills are both charcoal grills. However, while most Barbecue grills are made of metal, Shichirin Grills are made of diatomaceous earth or ceramic materials. Ceramics can even enforce the far-infrared rays to make the ingredients juicier.
Also, it is another advantage of Shichirin being easy to carry and use.
How to Use Shichirin
Put a bottom pan and charcoal in Shichirin and fully open the air vent. You can ignite the charcoal either inside Shichirin or outside Shichirin and put them back.
Do not pack charcoal tightly but with some room between each piece. You an adjust the heat with the air vent. When the heat is too strong close the vent, when it’s too weak open the vent to send air.
Use & Care
Basically, no special care is needed. When you want to remove stains, wipe off with a wet towel, etc. It is not advised to wash Shichirin in water as it will absorb the water and get more vulnerable to cracks or breakage.
Shichirin Grills have different advantages than barbecue grills. Barbecue grill may be better for barbecue with large groups. Shichirin is good for those who want to enjoy barbecue in a relaxing way with small groups or pursue authentic taste.
Would you like to experience authentic BBQ with a wonderful Japanese cooking tool??