Ever sunk your teeth into a crisp wood-fired pizza and wondered why it tastes so darn good? Well, we’re here to unravel the mystery behind fire-cooked food.
From bread to red meat and veggies, a smorgasbord of typical dishes tastes divine when cooked over an open fire. This post will explain the science behind wood-fired food and outline the benefits of this age-old cooking technique.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Every culinary connoisseur knows the smoked charcoal-like flavour accompanying wood-fired food. But do you know why this phenomenon occurs?
Cooking food over an open flame releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These aromatic compounds infuse any given dish with a rich smoky flavour, adding an extra layer of complexity to your meal. VOC-enriched flavours vary depending on the wood you use, which is why you’ll see numerous tree species at your local barbeque grilling store.
Aim for hickory wood to infuse your dishes with a mouth-watering sweet bacon-like flavour—perfect for poultry and salmon. Mesquite is ideal when you want a bold, earthy taste for dark meats like lamb and Texas-style brisket.
You might’ve also noticed many wood-fired dishes feature a rich caramelised texture. This browned, flavoursome crust comes from a process called a Maillard Reaction, which occurs when radiant heat reduces amino acids and sugar content.
While cooking under a grill can achieve this natural chemical reaction to some extent, there’s nothing like an open flame to kick-start the process. Fire-cooking optimises the Maillard Reaction to achieve that sought-after caramelised texture.
Every Australian 90’s child remembers the iconic “Aunty who?” ad. Consequently, we collectively understand antioxidants are good for us. If you’ve forgotten the specifics, these beneficial substances destroy free radicals, protecting you against conditions like cancer and heart disease.
But did you know wood-fired food offers a terrific natural source of antioxidants? Studies have found that wood fire-cooking vegetables—namely capsicum, eggplant, and tomatoes—increases antioxidant content. Flame-grilling your veggies is the healthy choice.
The Benefits of Wood-Fire Cooking Food
We now know that fire-cooked food offers a smoky flavour, a caramelised texture, and added antioxidants. But the benefits don’t end there.
Slow roasting a delicious dish over an open flame creates a better culinary connection—it’s more satisfying than setting a timer and scrolling through your phone. Plus, fire-cooking food is the perfect way to socialise with mates in the great outdoors. Every camping store in Australia stocks the essentials for an open-air cookout.
Finally, once you master the art of fire-cooking food, you’ll snag some serious social cache with your elite flame-grilling skills.
Try Sublime Fire-Cooked Food with Kiff & Culture
We love a smoky, fire-cooked delicacy. And that’s why we include famous flame-grilling establishments on many of our gourmet tasting tours.
Whether in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, or Byron Bay, we’ll show you the best fire-cooked food in the region. We then throw in a fun tasting session at a local brewery or distillery to cap off the perfect day.
But for the ultimate fire-cooking experience, you can’t go past our decadent Fire to Fork tour.