Thaan Charcoal is natural, Thai-Style log charcoal. It is a long burning, clean and natural alternative to commercial charcoal briquettes. It is made sustainably from orchard grown rambutan fruit wood, which imparts a very mild flavour, letting your grilled food speak for itself. Thaan Charcoal's consistent, even heat is easy to cook with, and is great for any style of solid fuel cooking: grilling, barbequing, indirect cooking and particularly good where binchotan charcoal is traditionally used.
Bon Appetite Article on Thaan
The struggle began with mesquite. "We were with it for a long time," says Andy Ricker, who burns through his fair share of charcoal at his Pok Pok restaurants, "but that was problematic: It's very unhealthy to work with and a mess to deal with all the time." So began the search for a better charcoal.
Ricker's top prospect was binchotan, which burns cleanly for long stretches at a consistently high temperature. Except: The top-shelf stuff, used at some Japanese yakitori spots, proved prohibitively expensive. In the process of researching, Ricker learned, however, that there was more out there than one type of binchotan, from broken-up pieces of the most expensive stuff to extruded charcoal. He started ordering a type of binchotan called ebisu—only to find out that it was coming from mangrove swamps in Malaysia that were being rapidly depleted by shrimp farming and charcoal production. "Not only was this a logistical nightmare," the chef recalls: "It was also an environmental disaster." He tried coconut-husk charcoal from Asia: "It wasn't a great product, even though it would have been a great resource."
At last, he found what would become Thaan (which translates to charcoal in Thai): a charcoal made from rambutan wood, which is a renewable resource and burns almost as hot as the mangrove charcoal. "We tried it, and we were like, 'Wow, this is great.'" In fact, Ricker liked the charcoal so much, he decided to start a company to sell it. "It gives a very nice, even radiant heat," says Ricker, "and it tends not to flare up when food drops into it. If you stack it like Lincoln Logs, it will burn even longer—up to four or five hours." His advice for home grillers: Because Thaan is a much more dense charcoal and doesn't have any accelerants in it, it doesn't catch fire as quickly, so you need to use a charcoal chimney to start it—and it works particularly well in a small hibachi grill. "Once the charcoal's lit," says Ricker, "it doesn't snap-crackle-pop at all; it burns for a really long time at relatively high heat."