Today I am going to talk about asado. Asado is an argentine way of bbq. It usually consists of various meat being grilled, over hot coals or burning embers of wood or a mix of both, over an iron grill called a parrilla. You may say what is so special about an asado, its just like any barbecue, well technically no.
1st is in the meat, the cuts are very different, they have vacio (flank), matambre (meat just under the skin – the lower part of the ribs to belly or flank area), asado (ribs, yes and its also called asado :P) just to name a few.
2nd there is no elaborate seasoning done, only salt is used, just to sidetrack a bit – when I had my 1st asado, I was asking my friend what seasoning does she use? and i actually wanted to season my chicken with the works (oyster sauce, chilli, etc) and my friend almost keeled over in shock. She said “Just salt”.
3rd the food has a smoky flavour to it. No special wood use as far as I am aware, not like the hickory smoke chips we can get back home from the supermarket. And they are juicy and yummy!
Apart from meat, they do have chorizos (sausages), morcilla (blood sausages), chinchulin (initial portion of small intestine), mollejas (sweetbreads) etc. These usually come along as an accompaniment with the meat.
Of course some will have this sauce with their grilled meat called chimichurri, a mix of garlic, oregano, salt and aji molido (grind chilli that is not spicy) and oil.
Almost every household will have an out door parrilla place where they can start an asado. Here is a picture of an outdoor parrilla.
An asado can be easily done at home or at the park or anywhere, all you need is wood, a portable iron grill and a fork and knife set (usually comes in its own casing and all, some even includes a small wooden board along with it). I know of someone who actually have his grill in the boot of his car at all times! Some time back when the teachers had a strike at the city palace, he whipped out his grill and started an asado right outside for his fellow colleagues and himself. Since the others had no cutleries they bought some bread and had their meat wrapped in bread! Easy peasy! So have grill will travel indeed!
Asado by the lake (lake is behind the photographer)
Basically a fire is started using dry wood and left to burn, sometimes charcoal is piled on at a later stage when the pieces of wood are burning, once they are glowing red embers, the wood/charcoal is then evenly distributed below the grill, this would usually take an hour or so before the meat gets cooked.
Starting a fire
Meat on the parrilla
Chicken on parrilla
Yummy chorizo with salad and beets!
So apart from alfajores (alfa-hor-ras) and yerba mate (ger-ba mah-teh), we will talk about those another time, asado is the next most common and popular thing in Argentina. So popular I would think it is almost a culture on its own. On a public holiday or weekend, one can get a wonderful aroma of asado in the air as one walk through any neighborhood (almost).