It’s making its way into buns, cocktails and mashed potato. It’s time to taste the burn
Next time you burn your morning toast or grill that steak within an inch of its life you can take comfort: charcoal is now trendy.
We’re not talking about popping your sausages over a charcoal BBQ as soon as the sun makes an appearance, but using charcoal as an ingredient with, say, your burger bun, cocktail or steak.
Last year, Burger King Japan launched a black burger with charcoal cheese and squid ink sauce, and it seems the fast food chain was, for once, onto something.
Get ready for your favourite foods in a new shade of black. Talk about smoky.
So, charcoal is the new black (of the food world)?
As with most trends, they start in the health food world. Historically, charcoal has been used to treat upset stomachs, aid with food poisoning and to help lower cholesterol, although there is little evidence or research to back this up.
Are we talking about run-of-the-mill coal here?
Well, yes. While some juice brands use activated charcoal, but chefs and mixologists are now playing with the stuff you put at the bottom of your BBQ.
Anyone for a charcoal burger bun?
That's right, the black stuff is being used in everything from juices and cocktails to burger buns, mashed potato and oils for adding to meats such as steak and chicken.
Who’s on the black market?
Michelin-starred chefs such as Tom Sellers at Story in London and Simon Rogan at L’Enclume in Cumbria both incorporate charcoal oils into their dishes – Rogan with his potato and onion ashes with ox in coal oil and Sellers’ potato, asparagus and coal dish.
The newly opened Bull in a China Shop, a new Chinese rotisserie chicken restaurant in London’s Shoreditch, is serving up a chicken charcoal burger in a black brioche bun - and of course there's also Burger King Japan.
While juice companies have been doing using coal for a while (it adds a grainy texture, apparently), charcoal has just broken into the world of cocktails. Charcoal old fashioned or daiquiri at Black Dice London, anyone?
And for dessert?
While charcoal might make sense as a partner in crime to a chicken breast, the sweet treats entering the arena are surprising.
Activated charcoal is a common dessert ingredient in Asia and Super Cute Macarons in London now sell a salted caramel and charcoal macaron – complete with inky colour and gritty texture. It tastes better than it sounds.
Is it smoking hot?
When it comes to the taste, think 'summer barbecue' - a little bit smoky and earthy, with a granular texture when added to drinks. Who doesn’t want their chicken with a barbecue accent?
So, are you ready for the black stuff?