Key Ingredient

Eleanor Nakama-Mitsunaga
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Liquid smoke


Barbecue taste
in a bottle

We're fortunate in Hawaii to be able to barbecue year-round. But if you love that smoky barbecue flavor and don't have time to light up the hibachi, liquid smoke is the answer.

The basics: Liquid smoke is concentrated barbecue flavoring in a bottle. Although the process of making liquid smoke is a well-kept secret, the product basically comes from the collection of steam during the smoking process. Some products have added preservatives and chemicals, but a handful of companies bottle a purely natural product -- for example, the local brand Kiawe Liquid Smoke.

Ben Cordero of Lei's Kiawe Co. says that his liquid-smoke product has been on the market for about a year. It's a natural liquid smoke derived from kiawe wood. The company will be introducing a strawberry guava wood liquid smoke and a barbecue rub called Kiawe Gold, which is a byproduct of making liquid smoke. For more information go to the Web site

Selecting: Liquid smoke comes in 3- to 5-ounce bottles. Look for all-natural ingredients --essentially water and smoky concentrate. A couple of local brands are available, and although they might be more expensive, they're worth trying.

Storing: Liquid smoke has a shelf life of several years and does not require refrigeration. For longer storage, however, you may refrigerate an opened bottle.

Use: Liquid smoke can be used in practically any recipe that would benefit from an added smoky flavor. Cordero recommends treating it like soy sauce. A little goes a long way, but quantity used really depends on individual taste.

The product is ready to use right out of the bottle to flavor beef, pork, chicken or seafood. It can be used in marinades or simply as flavoring at the table. Cordero also suggests using it in salad dressings and various dips (such as a dip for sashimi).

Where to buy: Liquid smoke is available in most supermarkets near the bottled barbecue sauces. Prices range from $2 to $5 a bottle, depending on size and brand.

Eleanor Nakama-Mitsunaga is
a free-lance food writer. Contact her
online through


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