The first time I heard of this technique was in read Chef Adam Perry Lang’s great cookbook Charred & Scruffed. One of the recipes in the book combines salt, garlic powder and hardwood lump charcoal. It is all ground together into a fine finishing salt consistency.
I recently saw a similar technique used by Chef Sheldon Simeon on the most recent season of Top Chef. Chef Simeon made charcoal out of lemon peels and grated those over his dish just before serving. The lemon charcoal is supposed to keep a little of the citrus notes while adding a slight smokey flavor to the dish.
I’ve tried a couple of commercial charcoal seasonings over the years with mixed results. After seeing these two examples of homemade charcoal seasoning I decided it was time to give making my own. I figured I would indulge my love of Asian flavors by adding a little ground ginger to the salt and lemon charcoal. I thought the ginger would add a little tangy bite that would compliment the citrus in the charcoal.
- 2 lemons, halved and pulp removed
- 1 cup sea or kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- The process to create the lemon charcoal is pretty simple and straight forward. Start with two lemons, cut in half with the pulp removed.
- Place the lemon peel halves directly on the hot coals in your grill. Watch them carefully they'll turn to charcoal pretty quickly. Once they've gotten completely black remove them from the grill and allow them to cool.
- The cooled charcoal goes into a food processor and ground into a fine powder. Run the charcoal powder through a fine mesh screen to remove any large chunks.
- Combine the 1 tablespoon of the charcoal powder along with the garlic powder and salt. Grind them together into a fine powder.
- Seal in an air tight jar. It will keep for a month or so.