The original design is over 3000 years old, with roots thought to be in China, but the Japanese also adopted it and called it “kamado,” a generic word that can mean an oven, stove, heater or even fireplace.
After World War II, thousands of Americans in Japan “discovered” the strange clay cooker and brought it home to the United States at a time when most Americans used metal grills for outdoor cooking.
The Big Green Egg was introduced in 1974 and has earned its reputation as the World’s Best Smoker and Grill. Since then, we have become the world’s largest producer and international distributor of ceramic kamado-style cookers.
The Big Green Egg holds a unique position amidst the thousands of gas, electric and charcoal grills. Its physical appearance can hardly be confused with any other type of grill, and its unique cooking qualities set it far above the crowd.
Clay vessels have been used by humans to cook food for many thousands of years. Clay cooking pots have been found in every part of the world and some of the earliest dated by Archaeologists to be over 3000 years old have been found in China. It is believed that in these circular clay cooking vessels are the origins of the modern Kamado albeit the clay finally being superseded by ceramic materials.
All over the globe this elementary cooking vessel has evolved in many different ways, the tandoor for example in India and in Japan, the mushikamado; a device designed to steam rice and used by Japanese families for ceremonial occasions. The mushikamado was a round clay pot with a removable domed clay lid and was typically found in Southern Japan. Innovations at this time included a damper and draft door for better heat control and it was found to be fuelled by charcoal rather than wood.
One of the claims of the ceramic construction is that there is no flavour contamination (metallic taste) to the cooked food and for the same reasoning, lump wood charcoal is the preferred choice for modern kamado cooking. Not only does lump charcoal create little ash, the alternative charcoal briquettes contain many additives that can contaminate the flavour of the food.
Manufacturers of the kamado style ceramic cookers claim that they are extremely versatile. Not only can they be used for grilling and smoking, but pizza can be cooked on a pizza stone and bread can also be baked. This is by virtue of the excellent heat retention properties of the ceramic shell that mean temperatures of up to 750 °F can be achieved. Also, due to the precise control of airflow (and thus temperature) afforded by the vent system, Kamado-style cookers are much like wood-fired ovens and can be used to roast and bake anything that can be roasted or baked in a traditional oven.