It may only be March, but our sights are already set on grilling season. We're through with winter comfort food and want barbecued everything all the time -- and from everywhere.
Barbecue is one of those universal foods (like dumplings) that people love all over the world. It's elemental. It's also simple and can be easy to make, but the smoke imparts a depth of flavors that makes it anything but boring.
There are many ways to define barbecue, but at its most basic, "barbecue is a cooking method that usually involves fire and smoke." While there are many types of barbecue all over the world, "it is smoke that differentiates barbecue from other types of cooking." It's also an event, usually outdoors, and can even be a flavor. Definitions vary and people will argue that certain grilled meats don't count, but for the purpose of this post, we're defining barbecue as meat, poultry or vegetables that have been cooked over coals or flame.
From Korea to Brazil, every country has its own version. Whether it's chicken grilled on skewers or a whole pig roasted on a spit, barbecue can take many different forms, and we love them all. Here are 11 of our favorite:
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Satay is popular in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines. Meat is marinated, skewered and grilled over a wood-burning or charcoal fire.
Braai is South African barbecue. Meat or vegetables are cooked over wood embers (never over gas or charcoal). It's so well-liked across the board that there's a movement to establish National Braai Day as a day of celebration in South Africa.
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Lechon is a whole-pig roast that has been cooked over charcoal. It's popular from Spain to the Philippines and is most often eaten at special occasions.
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Yakitori is a type of Japanese barbecue. It is typcially skewered chicken -- from thighs and skin to liver and gizzards -- but yakitori can also be vegetables or beef.
Char Siu is Chinese pork barbecue. It's a popular Cantonese dish and if you don't think you can make it at home, think again.
lomo al trapo
A type of barbecue popular in Brazil and other parts of Latin America, churassco is meat grilled on skewers on top of hot coals.
A Spicy Perspective
Bulgogi is Korean barbecue that is made from thin slices of marinated beef. It's sweet, salty, tender and delicious.
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Everyone is familiar with Australia's "Shrimp on the barbie" but another iconic Australian barbecue dish is the "sausage sizzle," which is made at community events like parties and fundraisers.
There are many kinds of regional American Barbecue -- from Memphis to South Carolina to Kansas City-style. Even Texas Barbecue varies according to regions in the state. The most commonly known Texan styles come from East and Central Texas, where meat is slow-smoked over wood -- often hickory -- until it is tender and falling off the bone.
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Tandoori chicken is a popular Indian-style barbecue, whereby chicken is roasted in a large clay oven called a tandoor. The chicken might also be placed on a grill above the tandoor.
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Asado is a style of South American barbecue that is also popular across the continent and especially in Argentina, where it is the national dish. It can also refer to the barbecue gathering itself, in addition to the food. "Al Asador" refers to technique where the full animal carcass is splayed on a metal cross and cooked near wood coals, but meat can also be grilled in pieces directly over the coals.