Hibachi grills originate from China. Their original purpose was to heat the homes of the noble. Eventually they made their way to Japan (somewhere between 798 – 1185AD) where they continued to be used as a type of portable heater. It was not until hundreds of years later when the hibachi began to take its place as a popular cooking device.
The word Hibachi itself can be broken down to the Japanese words Hi (fire) and Bachi (which means bowl). Roughly translated, hibachi grills could be called fire bowl grills.
Due to a lack of metals available in early China and Japan, these little heaters that would later become the popular hibachi grills of today were generally made of other materials such as hollowed out cypress wood that they would line with baked clay. As other materials became more readily available and casting methods were refined hibachis became available in more fashionable models that included intricate artistic designs of gold leaf and lacquered finishes.
Hibachi grills of today are the descendants of these little heating stoves that have seen numerous uses in their long past. During the Second World War they were even known to be issued to Japanese soldiers as portable heaters, and cigarette lighters.
Even today, the Japanese do not typically view these little heating devices as hibachi grills, to be used for cooking. Instead, they continue to be seen as small heaters. In the modern Japanese language, the word hibachi is translated as a type of fireplace, or heater.
It is believed that the Chinese were the first culture to really utilize hibachis as a device that could be used for cooking food. They found that adding a grill to the top of a traditional hibachi heater provided a great way of quickly searing, and cooking food to perfection. And voila… hibachi grills were born.
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