Tag Archives: brazilian bbq

Copacabana Style!

Over Easter Break, I went to Brazil to visit my boyfriend’s family. We started off in Rio and drove up to Belo Horizonte (time-wise, we’re talking a drive from Singapore to Penang – not including the time it took for tow to come get our rental because it broke down in the middle of Petropolis!).

While in Rio, we had some grilled beef and tapioca (or yucca, as they call it over there). I thought this was really interesting because I never really had tapioca as a savoury dish before. My grandma said that during WW2 in Singapore, they never really had much to eat, and because Tapioca was easy to grow, that’s what they had a lot of. When I was little, she would usually steam some for us, and we’d sprinkle some sugar on it. Of course, we also had other tapioca things like tapioca cake and Thai-style tapioca dessert with coconut cream.

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Brazilian BBQ (or Churrasco) is available pretty much anywhere you go in Brazil. You can find it on the interstate, in shopping malls, on the beach, out in the country, in people’s homes – pretty much everywhere. Barbecuing is such a big part of the Brazilian culture.

The beach side restaurant we went to in Copacabana was considered a “fancier” place, in a sense that it was more touristy and pricier. Although, everything in Rio is a little bit more expensive than elsewhere in the country. In this restaurant, they used a teppanyaki-style electric grill. In most other places, including homes, you’ll find that they grill using charcoal. Gas BBQs are virtually non-existent.

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When we got to Belo Horizonte, many homes and restaurants will even make their own BBQ grills out of brick. They look like wood fire pizza ovens that you see in pizzerias here. The idea is simple – there are 2 sections to the BBQ – a base where you place the charcoal, and the grilling area which consists of 2 levels. There isn’t a full grilling surface that stays put in one section. Instead, the cook will move the grills (grilling trays with handles) as they see fit around the BBQ.

Oh, and as a testament to how much people BBQ over there, they only sell charcoal bags of 10kg. Compared to Singapore’s measly 3-4kg bags sold at supermarkets. Wuuuttt…

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To have your own personal Brazilian BBQ experience in Singapore, you could try out The Brazil Dream, which has a Brazilian chef for hire who can bring Churrasco to your home or any event.

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Ai, Picanha! : Grilling the Brazilian Prize Cut

My latest BBQ obsession is Brazilian Churrasco (pronounced like SHOE-HASS-KO). I’ve always loved a good ol’ Brazilian BBQ, but churrasco restaurants are pretty limited here in Singapore and not to mention, pricey. So instead of eating out – I thought, why not just do it myself at home?

For this post, we’re using an Ultra Chef UC430 to grill Picanha (pronounce PI-KAN-YA) and cook Brazilian rice and beans.

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What is Picanha, you might ask.

Picanha is actually the rump cap, and the most prized part of the cow in Brazil. A lot of restaurants will try to pass off the rest of the rump as Picanha – but know that Picanha is separated from the rest of the rump by a vein, and it is never heavier than 1.5kg (any bigger and you’re probably getting a “fake” and it will not be as tender or flavourful).

Buying meat in Singapore can be quite a blow to your wallet, which is why I like to get my meat from Australia (just because a lot of friends travel back and forth). There is a South American grocery store in Fitzroy Melbourne called Casa Iberica that sells the Picanha cut of the meat and it’s already sealed up, and easy to bring home.

However, if you don’t have any friends who are coming from Australia, the next cheapest place to get meat from is Zac Butchery. There are 2 outlets, one in Chun Tin & one in Figaro Street. I usually visit the Chun Tin outlet because I’m a Westie, and the butcher there prepared the rump cap for me. I am not sure if they will cut up a rump cap for you in other butchers, but Zac Butchery is quite flexible so I like ordering from them. Another suggestion is to perhaps visit your neighbourhood wet market and speak to the butcher there. You could ask them to order in the rump cap, and perhaps get a better price too. Just an idea of the price difference – in Melbourne, I paid about AUD30 for 1.5kg of Picanha, whereas I paid SGD27 for 400grams of Picanha here (although, the Picanha I got from here was a Wagyu, so it was a bit more premium but I don’t mind paying a little more because you can really taste the difference).

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Preparing the picanha is simple. Slice up the chunk of meat into 1 inch thick slices.

All you will need is coarse sea salt. Grab a plate and spread a layer of the salt on it, and just flip the meat on top of it so it collects the salt. When that’s done, place the meat on top on the already lit grill and sprinkle a little bit more salt on the top. Brazilian restaurants here cut down on the salt they cook with to meet Singaporean tastes, but it’s usually a lot saltier in Brazil. Don’t be surprised if you get lots of salt popping, especially if you’re using a charcoal grill. Also expect a few flare ups from the oil. Close the hood, grill until preferred done-ness (not forgetting to flip it), and take off the grill to rest the meat.

Usually, the meat isn’t consumed as a whole steak – it is cut up into slices and served with Brazilian Rice, black beans and Farofa (seasoned casava flour). Farofa can’t be found here, so I order it from Amazon and have it shipped via 65Daigou or VPOST. I usually order some Guarana Antartica (Guarana flavoured soda) at the same time. But these are all little luxuries I splurge on.

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I cook the Brazilian Rice and Black Beans on the side burner of the UC430 (for those of you wondering what the side burner is for, it usually turns the BBQ into an outdoor kitchen so you don’t have to go in and out of your home a million times). “Brazilian Rice” isn’t necessarily rice that’s made in Brazil, rather, it is a way to cook the rice. I use Jasmine rice in this instance, and the rice is first sauteed in oil and garlic paste/minced garlic and salt, before water is added into the pot. Use a larger pot, as a smaller pot can cause the rice to be mushy. As for the black beans, I usually make a whole batch in the pressure cooker – storing half in the freezer and cooking the rest (also with garlic and salt and oil).

The final dish looks like this:

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And Farofa comes in this packet:

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CHURRASCO!!! Brazilian Barbecue!

Last Saturday, my friends from my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club came over to celebrate our coach’s birthday. Lots of us were dieting to make our weight class for our tournament in January, but… when somebody says CHURASSCO… well, you just can’t say no to a good Brazilian barbecue.

This is the first time I’ve had Brazilian grill at home. If I ever have a craving for Brazilian, I usually head over to Brazil Churrasco at Sixth Avenue. It’s been there since before I can remember!

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The Napoleon Lex485 being put to the ultimate test…. Churrasco!!

Anyway, Coach pre-smoked these coarse salts at home and brought a large container of them over. He refuses to give me the recipe so I will have to use the power of Google to find a recipe that will have similar results.

It was really interesting watching him at the grill (I say watch because I was forced to stay away from the grill. Geez, what a control freak!!!) Basically, he gets these really fat slabs of steak and the fat side faces up. So while the beef is on the grill, the fat goes into the steak from the top.

He seasons the steak with just the smoked salts by having them scattered on each slab. Whenever he turns them over, the salts would fall into the firebox, causing the flames to go really big! At one point, the firebox actually caught fire because there was just too much salt dropping in! We had to switch the grill off and put out the fire with a pitcher of water. You could say that the PSI was on the high side that evening!

Overall, the Churrasco was a success and everybody loved the meat. The steaks and lamb racks were literally swooped up within seconds of being taken off the grill. It was a good thing we opted to use the gas grill too because with 40 of us to feed, we would have ended the BBQ session past 1am if we had to use a charcoal BBQ.

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Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black belt in Brazilian BBQ!

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