Grilling: Orient Express

Sweet, spicy and aromatic, Asian barbecue is some of the world's finest, fastest--and easiest.

After eight years of traveling the world's barbecue trail, if I had to pick my favorite region it would have to be Asia, particularly the Pacific Rim. From Korea, with its perfectly seared short ribs wrapped in lettuce and dotted with a fiery-sweet chili paste, I'd eat my way south through Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Then I'd veer west to India for tandoori-style chicken kebabs dipped in a cooling cucumber raita.

I am enamored of Asian grilling both because the flavors are so vibrant and because the techniques are so quick and easy. There is little overnight marinating and no need for special equipment; all you really require are some bamboo skewers and a grill that can be as simple as a hibachi. Plus, it's healthy: Asians forgo huge slabs of meat in favor of kebabs flavored with aromatic herbs, superspicy chiles and bold condiments such as fish sauce. Once you master the basic combinations and methods, the possibilities are infinite.

Steven Raichlen wrote the award-winning book The Barbecue Bible. His Web site is www.barbecuebible.com.

PUBLISHED June 2002

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