Some of the earliest examples of clay vessels being used to cook are from China and are over 3000 years old. Modern Kamados are no different from these, except modern ceramic materials have superseded clay. So why is kamado cooking still largely an unknown way of outdoor cooking in the UK ? I recently went to a trade fair for local New Forest producers and I had to explain what I did. Being a BBQ Chef is a puzzle in itself but no one had ever heard of Kamado or ceramic cooking/BBQs but I’m sure everyone knows the tandoor..
The tandoor from India is the best known example of ceramic cooking as well as the mushikamado from Japan. It is in fact from Japan that the word “Kamado” originated, it is the Japanese word for stove or cooking range. The mushikamado was a round clay pot with a removable domed clay lid and was typically found in Southern Japan and was fuelled by charcoal rather than wood.
The mushikamado first came to the attention of the Americans after the Second World War and one enterprising American, Richard Johnson, re-designed it into a ceramic barbecue called Kamado in 1960 and shipped thousands to the USA, overtime there have been many adaptations such as Primo, Big Green Egg, Monolith, Kamado Komado and Kamado Joe.
The word Kamado has become a generic term for this style of ceramic cooker and is incredible well known in Canada and the USA but is still relatively new to the UK and Europe. This, I hope, is changing especially since the benefits of Kamado cooking are well worth the higher price tag associated with it. I like to say that Kamado is to outdoor cooking what AGA is to indoor cooking, a truly versatile and all year round way of fantastic cooking.
Being South African living in the UK, the biggest barrier to outdoor cooking is the weather – the UK has a lot of weather and usually not the good stuff. The British have the idea that you only BBQ when the sun shines and only when it is warm enough to eat outside, most BBQ pictures show a happy scene of a BBQ with a family eating alfresco. Most British people even hibernate their BBQs during winter (which is at least 10 months of the year!). If we stuck to these rules then I’d hardly ever use my Kamado , whereas I do use my Kamado all year round and in all weathers but simply eat inside. All my principal cooking is done on a Kamado (can’t remember last time I used my oven).
Kamados are perfect for the UK weather, whatever the external temperature they hold a constant internal temperature for hours and hours and that means you don’t need to keep checking your food, worrying if the charcoal has run out, double checking the temperature every ten minutes etc etc. Kamados simply take away the stress and worry of BBQing – in all weathers including snow.
So back to my original question ” Why don’t more people know about Kamado cooking?”, especially when there is a long list of Michelin starred chefs using Kamado cooking in their kitchens. Answer is I don’t know, but I’m certainly trying to spread the world and hopefully Kamado cooking will transform the way the British look at BBQing and outdoor cooking.