Regional BBQ Styles: Australia

Grail Note: I started the Regional BBQ Style series thinking I would get through Texas, Memphis, Kansas City and Carolina and be done. Sometimes though plans change.  Being part of The BBQ Brethren Forum provides a great opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with BBQ fanatics from all over the world.  Recently I talked to Graeme Starkie, from Sunset City, Australia  who knows a thing or two about outdoor cooking down-under.  Contrary to the stereotype it’s not all shrimp and barbies.  It’s obvious from this flavors are bold and complex. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Since the first Europeans landed on the startled indigineous Australians’ homeland, they have been forever playing with cooking their food outdoors. The British idea of building a big brick or stone house with a central kitchen with wood burning stoves presented an ongoing problem, the need for food drove the householder out of the house into the blazing exterior just to get out of the heat in the house!

We watched the indigenous Australians with their care free roasting and grilling on the coals of an open fire with envy, and soon we were copying them. We made outdoor grills, and we grilled mutton and lamb, depending on the season.

As Australia grew we got more diversity and then found ourselves grilling seafood and beef, but it always was grilled. Today, the word Barbecue means to most downunder, and food that is cooked outdoors and the majority, by far, is grilling. Kamado style barbecues have taken hold in popularity, and suit Australia because of the very powerful influence on our modern diet by Asian cuisine. South East Asia, Japan, China, India and the Mediterranean have had a massive effect on how we view food and taste.

As a boy, a barbecue was overcooked grey meat, chops, sausages and steaks, a simple green salad with tomatoes and lettuce, cucumber and buttered rolls, pools of tomato ketchup and brown BBQ sauce.
Now I would rarely see such fare. More likely it will be Greek style grilled lamb or rotiserrie lamb, or Thai style fish, Indonesian flavoured grilled prawns, fried rice or noodles, or a Japanese potato salad, perhaps Italian style grilled steaks marinated with herbs, a grilled vegetable salad of peppers, onions, zuchini, with red wine vinegar and Olive Oil and thyme salad.

Gone are the grey overcooked well done cuts and grease, puddles of tomato ketchup or BBQ sauce, and while we don’t regret our journey, we do rejoice in where we find ourselves now.


Australian BBQ Chicken with Nasi Goreng Rice
Australian BBQ Chicken
  • 3 lb chicken jointed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons fresh cracked papper
  • 4 teaspoons sambal oelek or fresh hot chili peppers to sub
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2½ tablespoons ketcap manis*
  • 2½ tablespoons palm sugar
  • 2½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
Nasi Goreng Rice
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 red chili (seeded)
  • ?1/2 teaspoon toasted belacan (terasi)
  • ?1/2 teaspoon palm sugar
  • ½ tablespoon kecap manis
  • 8 oz. overnight rice
  • 1 fried egg
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
Australian BBQ Chicken
  1. Slice chicken skin and inside of joints to aid penetration of marinade and to give jagged edges allowing delicious charring while cooking.
  2. Blend all other ingredients and rub it well into chicken, place into plastic bags and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat BBQ and cook high away from the heat source, or indirect if that isn't possible.
  4. I use my kamado at about 375f, top shelf usually.
  5. I aim to get the chicken cooked through before the skin gets too brown and then heat it to brown.
  6. Brush chicken with extra marinade as it cooks.
  7. My test here is to pierce the joint of a maryland and if the juice runs clear I remove the chicken pieces to rest.
Nasi Goreng Rice
  1. Break the overnight/leftover rice using the back of a spoon so they don’t clump together.
  2. In a wok, toast the belacan on low heat until it becomes dry and aromatic. Put into a little bowl and keep.Toasted belacan should be somewhat powdery and appear like tiny granules.
  3. Fry an egg and set aside.
  4. Using a mortar and pestle or a mini food processor, blend the shallot, garlic, red chili, and toasted belacan. Transfer the blended flavoring paste into a small saucer.
  5. Heat up a wok and add oil. Add the flavoring paste and stir-fry until aromatic or when the oil separates. Add the rice into the wok and stir well with the flavoring paste. Add kecap manis and palm sugar and spices into the rice and continue to stir-fry and make sure that they are well blended with the rice. Dish out, top the nasi goreng with the fried egg and serve immediately.
Kecap Manis: Sweet soy sauce, which has a thick, almost syrupy consistency and a pronounced sweet, treacle-like flavor due to generous addition of palm sugar. In cooking, it may be replaced by molasses with a little vegetable stock stirred in. Belacan: Shrimp Paste.

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