“Cambodian Cowboy” serves up Texas BBQ with a twist

“Cambodian Cowboy” serves up Texas BBQ with a twist

In boots, aviators and a cowboy hat, Chad Phuong seems to be each inch the Texan pitmaster. But his story started removed from the dry plains of the Texas Panhandle – within the steamy jungles of Southeast Asia.

It’s been a lengthy journey for Battambong BBQ’s more and more well-known proprietor and chef, who’s now referred to as the “Cambodian Cowboy.”

His love for Texas-style barbecue comes from the supply. He first adopted his stepfather to the Lone Star State and labored at a slaughterhouse exterior of Amarillo. There, he realized all there was to study concerning the noble artwork of meat smoking. Over time, he tweaked his recipes, utilizing the spices and flavors of his childhood to create a distinctive BBQ taste.

The modifications to his dishes — which he now serves in Southern California — will be refined, like utilizing Cambodian pepper on his brisket, which he smokes for 17 hours, periodically setting alarms to throw in additional oak. crimson on glowing embers. Or they are often drastic, as with his nak bang pork sandwich, and his Cambodian tackle pork stomach—a “game changer,” he calls it.

“There you have ginger, Chinese five spices, teriyaki sauce, a little salt, a little pepper,” he mentioned.

It’s a testomony to his talent with the smoker that his distinctive tackle Texas classics has been so extensively embraced. People had been skeptical at first, he mentioned. He needed to give many low cost tastes of his twa-ko sausage. Now, nonetheless, the Cambodian staple, made with beef, pork and fermented rice, has change into a fan favourite.

“What’s the Asian guy doing with some boots and a hat?” he asks. “Trying to sell barbecue as a gimmick and stuff. But they didn’t really get my story.”

This story is rooted within the horrors of Cambodia’s killing fields within the Seventies. After his father, a policeman, was killed by the dreaded Khmer Rouge regime, his remaining household fled, fleeing barefoot via the jungle to the border Thai, finally settling in Long Beach, California, residence to the most important Cambodian group overseas. He mentioned he remembers each step of their exodus.

Phuong grew to become a full-time govt in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, when he misplaced his job as a surgical assistant and put his household’s financial savings into a custom-built smoker. Now smoke-stained and well-traveled, there’s an outing at the very least 3 times a week, when he attends his common pop-up occasions at two Long Beach breweries and a weekly farmers market.

Since pulling on his boots and that ever-present hat, he is made a title for himself in his hometown. He has his regulars and individuals who drive over an hour every option to take pleasure in his brisket, pulled pork and that twa-ko sausage.

He has plans for a brick-and-mortar iteration of his wildly profitable, sold-out pop-up each time — in Long Beach, in fact — however when the time comes.

Right now, he says, he is on his option to the following pop-up window, hat on and pulling on his battered smoker, a cloud of aromatic smoke trailing him. A Cambodian cowboy, not driving off into the sundown, however into his vivid future.

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