Fire Up the Barbecue
With this smokeless charcoal grill, you can have a barbecue feast on your dining table in mere minutes. LIM TSIAO HUI tries it out.
The least enjoyable part of any barbecue is trying to light stubborn charcoal. But with this cauldron-like grill, it takes less than five minutes to get it done. It comes with a builtin battery-operated fan (each set of four AA batteries lasts 40-60 hours of cooking) that draws air into it to help the charcoal burn. A twist of the knob turns the fan speed, and the heat, up or down.
You can use it indoors, but not in airconditioned rooms. It’s not too heavy to lug outdoors either – the compact model (its grill plate holds eight chicken wings) weighs 4kg and the larger model (holds 12 chicken wings), 6kg. Each comes with an easy-toc-arry zippered bag.
SETTING IT UP
Here’s how it’s done: 1 Pour a ring of ethanol fire lighter gel (available from Home-fix and Takashimaya D.S.) on the lighting plate and heat it up with a lighter.
It took just three minutes for the charcoal to light up. My only beef was that the directions in the instruction manual were not always accurate – I needed more lighter fluid than recommended and I was supposed to switch on the fan only after putting the can of charcoal in place. On my first try, I couldn’t light it for half an hour, and had to call the Lotusgrill distributor for help.
I made the mistake of turning it on full blast at the start and charred some chicken wings. But when I moderated it, the other wings turned out crisped on the sides and juicy inside – the best barbecue wings I’ve ever made!
It also cooked beef patties and boneless chicken thighs well. Satay was more of a challenge – because the heat was more intense around the grill’s centre, the meat at the tips of the sticks was more charred.
There were hardly any ashes or fumes from the burning charcoal, only occasional smoky puffs from the fat on the chicken thighs on the centre of the grill pan.
Unlike a barbecue pit where there’s less washing up to do, this gadget has two parts to clean – the grill plate and the bowl that catches greasy drips from the food. I soaked the bowl in hot water and dishwashing detergent for half an hour before scrubbing out the grease with a dish brush. The grill plate was harder to tackle – I had to scrub along every grill line to remove the charred food bits.
Lotusgrill, $388 (Compact), $588 (XL), from Home-x Marina Square, Robinsons Orchard and Takashimaya D.S.
3 Replace the grill plate and turn on the fan.
2 Fill the can with charcoal and place it over the sizzling lighter gel.