Cooking with fire is not like learning to use an air fryer or an Instant Pot. You will have to trade electricity for patience. “A lot of it is practice, and it’s about learning how to control the airflow — when to put it in, when to turn it off,” Kiran Jethwa told Tasting Table. Depending on what you want to cook, you’ll also need to learn “what stage to use the wood for while it’s burning,” Jethwa advised. But grilling is one thing, and baking is another – and that requires a fire that is reduced to “ash coals”.
How can you replicate the cake Chef Viet made in Episode 1 of “Chefs vs. Wild”? “You need a container that will be a barrier between the food and the charcoal, so it needs to have a lid and not let any ashes in,” Jethwa said. Although you don’t have an oven thermometer, there is a workaround for this. “Typically, you bake a cake at about…350 degrees Fahrenheit,” Jethwa explained. “You can put your hand in the oven for about 5-10 seconds before it gets uncomfortable. When you want to know your fire is ready, you do the same thing. Put your hand there. It must be uncomfortable after about five seconds. but not so hot that it would burn easily.”
Keep in mind that cooking is not like barbecuing. “If you’re baking a cake, you have to push the embers to the side and then put them on top, because what you’re doing is mimicking what an oven does,” Jethwa explained. “Empty your pot in it, pack all the coals to the side. Stick some on top and leave it for 45 minutes and hope.
Catch Kiran Jethwa on “Chefs vs. Wild,” which is streaming now on Hulu.