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Taste Test #1: Cazuela Salmon on a bed of Basil

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Our first taste test of the new Komodo Kamado extruded charcoal was wild king salmon, brined for a few hours in a light brine of 1/2 cup sea salt, 1/4 cup sugar per gallon water, then set on a bed of supermarket basil in a Spanish cazuela. (We grow half wine barrels of Genovese basil for pesto; using supermarket basil would make the pesto taste like lawn clippings, but it is perfect for this application.)

I filled a two quart cast iron dutch oven with apple chips, then sealed it with flour paste; there are three 1/8" holes drilled into the bottom. I set this on a modest quantity of Komodo Kamado extruded coconut lump (KKoko), most of which was left after the cook.

I am quite familiar with the "classic" 2003 Kamado extruded lump; I still have ten boxes left. The KKoko looks pretty much exactly the same, perhaps not quite so regular, but I don't need anyone pressing diamonds on my behalf, I'm just concerned how food tastes. I also have a sample of "recent" Kamado extruded, which looks quite different, but I haven't had a chance to test it. (My source was about to throw it out, so I don't have high hopes...)

The KKoko was a serious challenge to light! I don't view this as a shortcoming, rather, we're in "be careful what you wish for" territory with any charcoal this pure, compressed, and free from binders. I trust I will rise to the occasion. My bro' Jiarby uses a Rambo-style flame thrower to light his extruded, I doubt that this stuff will make him blink. It's called a "weed killer" or something, and is illegal in California (we've been seriously smogged in by fires this summer, no joke), but I can see its virtues. An electric starter might also work great; I'll try that next.

The salmon "spalls" while cooking. The appearance-oriented have devised methods for pat-drying and air-drying the brined salmon to minimize this; we just close our eyes, loving how the salmon tastes.

Our concern, using this "canary in the mineshaft" test? Are there any off flavors in the KKoko? I have a friend who wins competitive wine tastings, who could tell my Kamado extruded came from coconut, but not objectionably so. On the other hand, many of us feel that Mesquite lump tastes like an oil refinery fire. We're looking for an approximation to neutrality, so the smoke we add is the smoke we taste.

Yes! We tasted the apple smoke we added, nothing more. PASS. Damn, wild king salmon is good. Wish it wasn't priced like a half tank of gas!

Next test will be a long low & slow, perhap butt, to see if the difficulty lighting turns into fires going out unexpectedly. We seriously doubt it, and I'm thrilled to have nabbed 20 boxes of this stuff.

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Wow is all I can say. What a great combo, the Salmon and Fresh basil combined with the coconut coal. I'm really jealous 'cause I didn't post pics of the pork loins I smoked with a few pieces of the stuff first! In the pics to follow(eventually)the pork had a definite perfumey aroma, not unpleasant I might add,I've read it can take on an almost incense type nose of which I would agree. But since I really burned it with my hardwood sawdust in the smokehouse(on a hot plate burner) just to see if it would even light and to see how much residue was left(not much,about what I've seen with my lump), I was happy to see that it was completely consumed. As it was smoldering continuously with a heat source directly underneath there was no way to determine how long it would have burned if left to it's own end. Sorry you couldn't have tasted the chops this morning for breakfast, but then again I missed the wild salmon as well!

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New KK extruded

My experience with this new stuff is that it's pretty difficult to light. With my trusty old chimney started it took three sheets (drizzled with oil as usual) instead of the one I usually use with lump. Otherwise, the EZQ chicken turned out great. Didn't add any wood this time.

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Re: Taste Test #1: Cazuela Salmon on a bed of Basil

Next test will be a long low & slow' date=' perhap butt, to see if the difficulty lighting turns into fires going out unexpectedly.[/quote']

Ahh, quite the contrary. If one burns individual pieces of this charcoal like incense, it burns completely (like 2003 K extruded; 2007 K extruded goes out) and very slowly.

My 22 hour pork butt cook went fine. Temp adjustments are slower to take effect than oak or mesquite lump, but that's true in my experience with any fuel this dense.

We served the butt last night, and I closed up my cooker as usual. This morning, my cooker is still at 150 F, with signs of a live fire.


^^^^ This cooker is not a Komodo Kamado !!! ^^^^

My cooker is not a Komodo Kamado. It cost less back in the day, but one clearly gets what one pays for! The tiles fell off (there was a hilarious thread bashing my "black textured" conversion on the KFForum, but the mods took it down) and my band adjustment procedures failed to help significant leaks. I really need to build a tight gasket; I've been getting by with masking tape until low & slow cooks settle down. Hey, we've been busy. I rebuilt a shed roof, and just learned plumbing to fix the wall behind our shower.

In any case, my theory is that a lingering fire of KK extruded is capable of burning so slowly that it can survive on the air coming through the leaks in my K.

Perhaps there is a bit of residual moisture content in this charcoal. Ever been to SE Asia? It's humid there. Just as ambient humidity affects stored flour enough for bakers to take notice, I may be seeing differences between charcoal fresh from SE Asia, and charcoal stored in my very hot garage five years. This would explain the time it takes to light, and the slow burn in "incense" mode.

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