Extruded charcoal from the the Rambutan fruit tree is in the cooker today. Thaan brand, Thai style charcoal, are small, tightly compressed logs, about four inches long that promises to burn consistently and persistently with little smoke and ash. These charcoals are sold out of Portland Oregon by the "Pok Pok" restaurant group.This sounded like a fun little experiment for the Mad Meat Genius test kitchen. I think it is time to fire up the grill.
The Thaan brand charcoal arrived in a neat and tidy five pound box. We will cook a 40 ounce aged USDA Choice rib-eye steak for testing purposes. Eight small charcoal logs (aprox 2 pds) were placed in a chimney starter. The charcoal logs have a hollow core that may or may not help in ignition. It turns out these little logs needed an exercise in patience to light. I had to use triple the amount of newspaper to start the logs. I even used a bellows to speed the process. It took a good half hour to light the charcoals. Once they were lit, we had a good consistent heat. The steak cooked as normal. When our steak was done we still had plenty of charcoal left with heat to spare.
Our steak was done to perfection. The Thaan charcoal did burn with little smoke and ash. Flare ups from dripping steak love were minimal. It took a good effort to light these charcoals. Once they were lit they performed decent enough. This was a fun and tasty experiment. Will Thaan brand Rambuten extruded charcoal be my new cooking fuel? I doubt it. The expense with shipping and handling plus the effort of lighting this charcoal just outweighed the benefit. The benefit being of little smoke, ash, longer cooking times and the Rambuten fruit tree are a renewable resource. Bring on the lighter fluid and cheap blue bag briquettes. (The last sentence was; "That's a joke son.")