The Japanese use binchotan charcoal for grilling because of its ability to reach high temperatures (up to 1000ºC) and its clean fumes, which means it imparts a clean smoked flavour to the food. I really love cooking with binchotan. The best thing about it is you’re cooking off dry heat – there’s absolutely no flames (or there shouldn’t be!). Because binchotan is so hot, as soon as any fat hits the charcoal, it can flare up, so to control any fat flare ups, fan the charcoal while cooking so no flames can catch.
It’s a popular way to eat in Japan, where customers are seated around the grill. The Japanese have designed a customised charcoal grill that can sit on a table, known affectionately as a binchotan box.
Alfonsino, also known as red bream, is a really fatty white fish, which makes it ideal for grilling – the fat will drip on the binchotan and smoke it like crazy. I get the skin really crispy first – so crispy it’s almost like eating “scales”. I think Australian alfonsino is the best alfonsino in the world.