As the world’s oldest form of barbecue, meat-on-a-stick has made its way into nearly every culture.
In Japan, it’s yakitori. In France, brochettes. Asian menus serve satay and Spanish prepare pinchos morunos. Armenians offer shashlik and Turkish delight us with shish-kebabs.
According to “A Mediterranean Feast” by Clifford A. Wright, the origin of skewer-roasting ties back to the Turkish history of nomadic and semi-nomadic life when cooking on-the-go over open-field fires was common.
With today’s hectic schedules, it makes sense to turn to a quick way to enjoy a meal. Making skewers fits perfectly with summer grilling season.
What I like most about kabobs is everything is cut into bite-size chunks, so cooking is quick and simple. Skewers can be prepped in advance and nobody has to be stuck standing over a hot grill, so the chef can relax a little, too.
Cubes of meat can be tossed with a few spices and mixed into yogurt or buttermilk, adding a tangy flavor while helping to tenderize the meat.
Let the food marinate to infuse flavor and add extra moisture. That helps prevent drying during the cooking process.
When using marinade, be sure to get all air out of the bag before sealing, so the contents come into close contact with the mixtwure. Turn the bag often while marinating to ensure even-coating of all pieces.
Although many supermarkets carry special kabob spices and marinades, most chefs use salad dressing or sauce they have available. That’s how I realized that sweet French dressing makes an outstanding marinade and basting sauce on shrimp kabobs, and an Asian oyster sauce improves a red-meat kabob.
Coat cubed meat (I use tenderloin tips) with oyster sauce just before and immediately after grilling and you’ll garner the great taste of those “sizz steak” appetizers you get in a Chinese restaurant.
Here are a few flaming food ideas to help fuel your next superb skewered feast. Enjoy!
Email Laurakurella@yahoo.com. Read Laura Kurella’s blog, “Kurella’s Kitchen Encounters,” at www.sturgisjournal.com.
Sizzlin’ steak kabobs
1/2 cup water
1-ounce low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 cloves pressed garlic (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1?1/2 cups fresh favorite vegetables (bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, etc.), cut into 1-inch cubes
2 pounds red meat (beef, bison, venison, etc.), cut into 1-inch cubes
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine water, soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, garlic, ginger, and pepper. Add favorite vegetable(s) and meat into bag. Seal, removing as much air as possible. Shake bag to blend ingredients well then refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours before assembling skewers and grilling. Meanwhile, place wooden skewers (or rosemary stems) in a bowl of water to soak so sticks are prepped, and ready to use. After meat has marinaded, preheat grill to a medium-high 400-degree heat. Thread meat and vegetables onto skewers as desired, leaving a small space between each item. Clean, then lightly oil grill grate. Grill skewers for 10 minutes, turning as needed, or until meat cooks to desired doneness and vegetables are tender. Servings per recipe: 10.
South Pacific skewers
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (15 1/4 ounce) can unsweetened pineapple chunks
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 large green pepper, 1-inch squares
12 medium mushrooms
18 cherry tomatoes
Hot cooked rice
Place cubed chicken into large shallow dish. Drain pineapple, reserve 1/2 cup juice. Set pineapple aside. In a small saucepan, combine juice with soy sauce, vegetable oil, brown sugar, garlic powder, ground ginger, dry mustard, and fresh ground pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over chicken. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Remove chicken from marinade, reserving marinade. On a skewer, alternate chicken, pineapple, green pepper, mushrooms, and tomato pieces. Preheat grill to 400 degrees. Place reserved marinade over medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer marinade as chicken cooks, turning and basting chicken skewers frequently with marinade until cooked to desired doneness. Serve over hot rice. Servings per recipe: 6.
Sweet ‘n’ spicy shrimp skewers
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle Chiles in adobo
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon unrefined mineral sea salt
1-pound large raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the honey, Chile pepper, garlic, and salt. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Remove shrimp from marinade, reserving marinade. Thread shrimp through the tail and head onto skewers. Preheat grill to 400 degrees. Bring reserved marinade to a boil and simmer. Grill kabobs over direct heat for 2 to 4 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling time and basting with reserved, simmering marinade. Arrange skewers on a serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro or parsley, if desired. Servings per recipe: 6.