THE GLOW OF WOOD EMBER COOKING!
So what exactly is wood ember cooking and why is it suddenly gaining attention as a method of cooking? Well, first, it’s most certainly not a new cooking concept. Cooking over a fire and hot coals have been around for thousands of years. Recently, some Chefs and well-known restaurants have taken to returning to this method of cooking because they know where great flavor can come from and they know how to manage the heat from hot wood embers.
An ember is a glowing, hot coal made of greatly heated wood, coal or other carbon-based material that remain after a fire. The heat radiated from hot embers can be as hot as the fire which created them. You can see this first hand, by placing new wood pieces on hot embers and watching a full fire develop. An ember is usually formed when a fire has only partially burnt a piece of fuel and there is still usable chemical energy in that piece of fuel. It continues to stay hot and does not lose its thermal energy quickly because combustion is still happening at a low level. The small yellow, orange, and red lights are often seen among the embers are actually combustions. There just is not enough combustion happening at one time to create a flame. Once the embers are completely ‘burned through’, they are not carbon as is commonly believed (carbon burns, and is not normally left behind), but rather various other oxidized minerals like calcium and phosphorus. At that point, they are commonly called ashes. But why cook on the embers versus over a live fire? Because embers radiate a more constant form of heat, as opposed to an open fire which is constantly changing along with the heat it radiates (think water trapped within the wood and you’ll understand why there is heat fluctuation).
Ember cooking techniques include placing thickly skinned food items directly into the embers (i.e. garlic, onion, peppers, eggplant, steaks, etc.), placing a cast iron skillet into the embers that can hold any food items from vegetables, meats, poultry, fish — really anything. The results produced from this method are super moist, super flavorful, and the aromas are exceptional.