Tagged: History

The origins of the word “Barbeque” date back to the 1600’s but the various cooking methods associated with the word have been employed since the beginning of time. Some say that the word “Barabicu” from the Taino people of the Caribbean translates as “Sacred Fire Pit”. Other lore for the origins of the word are from French Pirates landing on the shores of South America. There they found the natives cooking animals whole over hot coals. The French pirates called this cooking technique “de Barbe a Queue” literal translation, “From beard to tail”. This expression was brought back to France and England then later returned to America by the Spanish “Barbacoa”.

The food menu Trader Vic’s has evolved over the years. In the very beginning, the menu was limited to sandwiches and lite fare. In 1938, Trader wanted to expand the menu by serving Chinese food along with his tropical cocktails. He visited Chinatown in downtown Oakland with his bartender Paul Wong. Together they studied the preparation and cooking of Chinese food. It was Paul’s uncle who built the first BBQ ovens behind the restaurant, using only a rock and string as a plumb line for measuring. He became the cook for all the barbequed food later on.

The design of Trader Vic’s Chinese wood fired ovens can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 b.c. to 20 a.d.) and are built onsite in our restaurants. The ovens are encased in glass so that our guests can see this unique operation. One might say that exhibition cooking began with Trader Vic’s!

Trader Vic & friend, 1970

Chinese BBQ Oven Points and Cooking Tips:

• The process of high heat smoking involves high heat (425 to 500) degrees and a small amount of smoke.
• The main difference between barbecue in the Chinese oven and on an ordinary char- grill is the lack of carcinogen developed from direct contact with the flames from dripping fat.
• It is important to use a good hard wood such as; white oak, hickory, almond, or maple. These woods are dense and enable the production of the high heat necessary for cooking, make sure they have been dried and are not fresh cut.
• Because the Chinese oven is a dry heat cooking method it is important to use meats that contain a good amount of fat to prevent drying out.
• Although not necessary it is good to marinate the protein to enhance the natural flavor.
• As with any oven or Barbeque make sure to let the initial fire burn down to coals to heat oven, then continue to add wood as needed.

“The best ingredient for Barbeque is friends and family”!
Trader Vic’s Corporate Executive Chef Michael Broderick

Our ovens today

Recipe Good for 1 Pound of the Following: Steak, Chicken or Salmon*

*For Vegetarians Substitute Vegetable Skewers with Mushroom’s & Medium Firm Tofu
In a large bowl whisk together until dissolved:

  • 4 cups Kikkoman brand lite soy Sauce (green label)
  • 2 ounces Granulated Sugar

Then add the following:

  • 2 ounces Ginger (Peeled and Smashed)
  • 3 cloves Whole Garlic Cloves (Crushed )
  • 2 each Green Onion (Crushed)
  • 1⁄2 cup Water
  • 1 pc. Small Whole Chile (Split) (optional)

Let the mixture sit overnight. Marinade meat for 10 minutes before cooking