Cooking is a part of science. Not everything needs to be complicated to be called a science. Griddles and grills are intuitive that’s why people are generally not aware of the science that’s occurring during your food cooking.
Therefore, please allow me to shed some light on the cooking using griddle and grill. Griddle vs grill, who wins? Buckle up and prepare for a science lesson. Below is a list of differences between these two.
Why and How Griddle and Grill Are Different
1. Differences in Equipment
Most people know the differences already, but just in case, let’s discuss the main reasons why griddles and grills are different.
Griddle - The Technology of an Advanced Frying Pan
A griddle is a piece of cooking equipment with a flat hotplate similar to that of a frying pan. However, it usually comes with a built-in adjustable heat source underneath.
The difference from a frying pan is that the pan requires you to set up a separate heat source.
Grill - A Carved Up Griddle
The grill is similar to the frying pan but with a grid-like gap on the surface for the heat to go through. Of course, there are scientific reasons why, but let’s leave that for later.
Also, just to be clear, there are frying pans or other flat-surfaced cooking types of equipment with ridges, but they are not a grill. However, they leave grill marks on your food, similar to an actual grill.
2. Heat Source
You will be surprised how many people think grilling means charcoal fire, while the griddle means only using liquid gas or electricity. It is a bit more than that, and the heat source really is not a definitive factor for differences between these two.
Although, I do get where the misconception is coming from.
3. A Scientific Explanation of the Taste Differences
This is the part where I’ll involve a bit of science in the article, so get ready. There won’t be any overly complicated scientific jargon so don’t worry.
I need to use just a little so that I could explain the differences thoroughly.
Have you ever heard of the terms in science eyes, nose, and mouth? Have you wondered why they are in that specific order? Allow me to explain using food as an example.
Humans are highly suggestible creatures. When we are presented with a dish in front of us, our taste perception will turn on first. Visuals are the first that we start to percept. Next comes the smell and finally the mouth, hence the order of the terms.
The grill marks left behind by a grill play the aesthetic role causing you to salivate in anticipation of the food in front of you. Your palate is then “warmed up” and ready to consume.
That’s the reason why both fine dining and restaurants apply this technique to their cooking as an attempt to attract more customers.
Grill marks can garnish food and be appealing as much as the skillfully decorated cake.
Alright, so there are the psychological factors included in the process of grilling, but what about griddling? Add some ridged patterns on the surface, and you will get somewhat similar grill marks, am I right?
You can replicate the perceptive sense with similar settings and all, but there are impacts on the actual taste when you grill too. The Maillard reaction is a new term I want to introduce.
When you grill a piece of meat on the grate, the grill marks (also known as browning) are a result of the Maillard reaction. It is a series of chemical reactions between sugar and amino acids within meat while grilling, similar to that of a caramelized effect.
Different cooking methods would have different Maillard reaction impacts. However, grilling is believed to be the best way to bring out the most benefits from the reaction.
To put it briefly, the reaction of these two main components in meat enhance and release the aroma when you grill meat.
Also, the more alkaline the piece of meat is, the more intense the reaction would be.
4. Personal Thoughts on the Grill and the Maillard Reaction
From my perspective, grilling is better for the Maillard reaction because of the effects of its contrast. As the equipment is grid-like with ridges, grill marks are where the aroma is more intense and focused, whereas the non-grill-marked parts are where the palate experiences less impact.
Since the Maillard reaction is best achieved from 212 to 356 degrees Fahrenheit, the part that is directly impacted from the heat is the tastiest part, whereas the non-brown parts offer the contrast in taste.
By the way, going above the mentioned temperature would cause the meat to burn. So, be careful.
The contrast between these two parts when you bite the meat puts a highlight on every part and further enhances the succulent taste of the meat, much like tasting something sweet after a sip of bitter coffee.
5. What Are Griddles Good for Then?
Despite the better aesthetic look and contrast in taste when you grill, there are things a griddle can do but a grill cannot.
One of the many benefits of the flat surface is multitasking. Throw some whole onions and mushrooms, and you can slice it up while monitoring the griddling meat right on the spot.
In some situations, a dash of extra seasonings such as sauce or white wine, might be required. Then you can splash it right on the top of the griddle and combine it with the meat. Whereas with the grill, it will just slip right through the gap to the heat source beneath the grill.
Food Best Cook on a Griddle
For cooking that requires better heat transfer and distribution over the entire surface, you should use griddle instead of a grill.
For instance, okonomiyaki, a common and popular Japanese dish. It requires even distribution to cook up evenly and retention of every bit of the ingredient since it is quite soft and liquid-like. Imagine the mess if you do it on the grill.
6. Cleaning Duty
The aftermath and personally a nightmare, of every cooking session, is cleaning. The cleaning part is perhaps the most disdained part of every food cooking task.
Every griller knows the feeling of having to clean up the grill, especially after a barbeque party. Having to scrub off the nooks and crannies of the ridges is simply nightmarish. Hence, ensure the grill you are using is porcelain coated, stainless steel, or basically anything that gives it the non-stick properties to ease the pain when cleaning. Also, a high-quality grill brush will help a lot with the whole process.
On the contrary, cleaning a griddle is a much more relaxed task. The flat surface allows for a quick clean up, and rinsing consumes less time too. On top of that, if the griddle is from the non-stick material, you will be done with the cleaning in a jiffy.
Griddle vs Grill: Which is Better?
That is entirely dependent on what type of food you are cooking. Need to multitask, chop, slice, and stir-fry a different kind of food from meat to toast at the same time? A griddle is your best friend forever. However, if you are the person who loves that delicious and savory taste of your meat, a grill is obviously the better choice.
If you disagree with any part of my article or want to express your opinion on the subject, please do comment.
So, Griddle vs Grill, what do you choose?