Life Press

Different Styles of BBQ From Around the World

A top view of a table laden with food that has mostly been grilled.

As soon as there’s a hint of spring in the air in the US, most people step away from their TV or online casino games, roll out the barbecue and get the meat marinating. There’s just something absolutely glorious about the combination of sunshine and food done over a fire.

Although traditional barbecuing is massive in the US, it’s popular all over the world; each place has its own BBQ style. One of the things that makes it such a hit is that it can be suited to any budget – from whole hogs on a spit to pieces of chicken done over a small coal fire. It’s also something that is rarely done alone, and barbecuing is a wonderful way to get family and friends together to enjoy good food and company.

Let’s take a look at some of the best BBQs in the world.

American BBQ

Barbecuing is one of the most popular family-style get-togethers all over the country. Whether that’s your dad grilling some wings before the Super Bowl, a couple of steaks by the lake for Independence weekend, or a whole smoked hog in a Southern-style smokey barbecue extravaganza.

BBQ is held in high regard all over the country, and whether the food is done low ‘n’ slow or hot ‘n’ smoking, it’s always an occasion to get together with loved ones, enjoy the warm weather, and feast on deliciously cooked food that everyone can enjoy.

Yakitori, Japan

Now, most of us would have seen Yakitori as an appetizer when going to a local sushi spot, but in Japan, it’s one of the most popular forms of street food. The Japanese use bamboo skewers that are loaded up with delicious chicken and then grilled over white charcoal. This white charcoal burns at a lower temperature and doesn’t produce smoke, which means a tender, juicy skewer of chicken every time. Although the term Yakitori can cover the grilling process in general, it more often refers to grilling chicken in particular.

Bulgogi, South Korea

Top view of a Korean BBQ with an assortment of meat on the grill and sides on the table.

If there’s another country that we immediately think of when it comes to different types of BBQ, it’s got to be South Korea. Although there are plenty of Korean barbecue styles, the one that is best known around the world is Bulgogi. Thinly sliced beef marinated in a sauce of scallions, soy sauce, sesame, and more – it is grilled on a small grill on the tabletop and served alongside fresh vegetables and spiced with delicious herbs.

Braai, South Africa

In South Africa, “braaing” is less of a dish and more of an event in itself. This is a potluck-style BBQ, where everyone brings their specific meat of choice, while the hosts usually contribute the salads and other sides. Steak, lamb, and boerewors (a South African sausage) are the most popular meat choices. One of the most common side dishes that you will encounter at a braai is something called pap, which is a firm, corn-based porridge that is similar to polenta or grits.

Barbacoa, Mexico

Barbacoa is a delightful Mexican-style BBQ where meat (normally beef or goat) is wrapped in a leaf from the maguey tree and then slow-cooked in an underground pit. In fact, the word barbecue comes from the word barbacoa, which originated in the Caribbean and migrated to Mexico. A cool, fun fact for the next time you go for a meal at Chipotle!

Char Siu, China

Who doesn’t love a good Char Siu? It’s a mainstay of Cantonese culture, and when literally translated, it means “fork roast.” That’s because the pork is seasoned with five-spice powder, honey, fermented bean curd, maltose, and other delicious ingredients, and then it’s grilled over a fire or in an oven on long forks.

Churrasco, Brazil

A traditional churrasco with a variety of meats skewered over flames.

If there’s one thing to know about churrasco, it’s that there’s always going to be a whole lot of it. In fact, so much of this skewered meat ends up on the plate that it can be almost impossible to finish. While it can be any kind of meat, churrasco normally uses beef, which is skewered and then cooked at high heat over an open flame. Depending on where you are, your meat will most likely be accompanied by chimichurri, fries, salad, or even an egg.

Lechón, Philippines

Lechón actually originated in Spain, but it has been wholeheartedly adopted as a favorite in the Philippines. It’s a pretty straightforward process whereby an entire pig (sans innards) is skewed on a big wooden stick and then spit-roasted over medium to low charcoal heat for many hours. The pig is basted throughout the process, and the long, slow cooking process means that it is always as tender as can be on the inside, while the outside is extra-crispy. You’ll most likely come across Lechón at a special occasion, like a birthday or a wedding. 

Tandoor, India

You’ve probably seen the signature clay oven that is used in much of the best Indian cuisine; the tandoor oven is used to cook skewer meat at high temperatures. One example that comes to mind is tandoori chicken. The chicken is marinated with yogurt, garam masala, and other delicious spices then skewered and cooked in the tandoor oven.

Shish Kebab, Turkey

The Turkish version of kebab, shish kebab or Şiş kebap, is a dish that is synonymous with Middle Eastern cuisine. The concept is much like that of all kebabs: chunks of meat are put onto a skewer and then grilled. Lamb is typically the most common form of meat used, and vegetables are also sometimes added.

Kālua, Hawaii

Much like the South African braai, the word “luau” generally refers to a gathering of friends and family rather than the particular dish cooked. Kālua is the specific process that normally takes place at a luau. A whole cooked pig is stuffed with hot rocks, wrapped in banana leaves, and wrapped in a wet cloth and sand, then cooked for six to seven hours in a mesquite-fueled underground oven called an imu.

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