Midnight. Bangkok: The sun has gone down, and with it, the blast furnace heat of Thailand. In their stead comes the fiery glow of a thousand barbecue grills—on pushcarts, at hawker centers, and at the open air restaurants that sprout like mushrooms on the sidewalks come nightfall. Thailand has always had an outdoor eating culture, and nowhere is this more exuberantly apparent than at the myriad of eateries specializing in yaang, grilling.
Thais distinguish among three distinct styles of grilling. Yaang refers to food that is slowly grilled over a medium fire. Ping is the Thai word for “grilled quickly” or “roasted over charcoal.” Pao (“burned,” literally) refers to quick grilling over a strong flame.
Meet my good friend Allan Dresner, an American ex-pat who moved to Thailand with a duffel and his beloved Weber Smoky Mountain. I am envious of his globally-inspired take on the art of live-fire cooking, and am always eager to hear what’s going on his grill or smoker. (It was Allan who introduced me to grilled patties of sticky rice coated in a spicy egg batter. Wow!)
But Allan is a devotee of American-style barbecue, too, recently sending photos of his slow-smoked beef brisket that made my staff and I salivate. Finding good beef in Thailand is still a challenge, Allan admits, so he and his grilling buddies periodically order beef from Australia, then pick it up at the airport before divvying it up—even tri-tips and short ribs.
He writes: It’s nice to experience authentic food (and drink) from each other. We have some wonderful Italian neighbors who just destroy us every time we go over. Our sweet old neighbors from Armenia…when she would cook, I would find myself opening our windows so the smell could find its way into our living room. One time, we were moving and some of our Japanese neighbors brought over homemade sashimi. Really so lucky.
Over the last 16 years I have amassed an arsenal of devices and even found someone in China Town to make me a Turkey Fryer based on some photos I showed her. Doing my part to share the American BBQ experience with our friends from all over the world. Immediately want to give credit to Steven whose books laid the foundation for what I know how to do. After 20 years of smoking briskets, ribs, etc., so many things have become second nature and I love that.
Thank you, Allan, for sharing your experiences and your smoke-kissed brisket recipe. We look forward to hearing more about the local woods you’re using and any other specialties you’re experimenting with.
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