Kamado Style Cookers, Evolution
The term kamado is of Japanese origins and is a fueled clay or ceramic vessel used as an oven. The kamado style cookers of today are for many different cooking styles such as; outdoor grilling, smoking, baking and barbecuing. Traditionally these cookers were fueled by wood or charcoal. Today charcoal is used and lump or natural charcoal being the preferred fuel.
Cooking in clay pots has been around for thousands of years. China, India and Japan all have different techniques of cooking in earthen cookware. The tandoor in India and the mushikamado used in Japan. It is through the introduction of the later to Americans during World War II that the modern kamado cooker got its initial design and name.
The modern kamado style cookers are made from mainly high fired ceramics with a glazed finish. The ceramic construction keeps the cooker from cracking under high heat and the other materials do not impart any smells or tastes to the food item like other finishes might.
Lump charcoal is used as a primary fuel source as it produces high heat with little ash and does not contain materials for additives that may affect the flavor of the food being cooked.
The versatility of cooking styles you can do on kamado style cookers is remarkable. You can grill, the lid can be closed to turn it into an oven, and indirect smoking of meats and fish, and even baking items can be accomplished with this one cooker.
The kamado style cookers are usually constructed as a two piece unit with a clam shell design between the lid and the base. The base contains the fire box where you put the charcoal. The fire box has holes in it to allow air flow and sits up so ash can fall into the bottom of the cooker keeping the air flow clear. The temperature of the fire is regulated between a vent at the bottom and one in the lid which, along with the fire creates air flow through the unit. The more air flow the hotter the fire will be. Temperatures can be reached above 500 degree fahrenheit or can be kept at a lower temp for smoking. Due to the air flow they are easy to light and when you are done you close the vent, the fire goes out and you have charcoal left for another day.
A few of the manufacturers of kamado style cookers are Big Green Egg, Komodo Kamado, Primo and Grill Dome. I have been cooking on a medium Big Green Egg for the last seven years and would never use a gas grill again.