Tuesday, March 20, 2012

0 Shish Kabob or Skewered, Grilled Food...

When I was a pre-teen I loved going to a local restaurant with my parents and ordering Beef Shish Kabob. It may have had something to do with being served a flaming skewer. I mean, how impressive is that? But really, I loved the taste of the juicy grilled meat, the soft and slightly burned cherry tomatoes, green peppers, onions and mushrooms. It was delicious and seemed very special to me. I guess this restaurant would have been classified as a “steak house”, so it never occurred to me that Shish Kabob was anything but American food, although the restaurant was owned by a French woman...

At that time I didn't know that traditional Shish Kabob was Turkish, I wouldn't find that out for about another ten years... Did you know that skewered, grilled food can be found around the world? Such as French Brochettes, Indonesian Satay, Japanese Yakitori and Greek Souvlaki. Sometimes I find it amazing that similar ways to prepare food develop around the world, just like another one of my other favorite foods, Polish Pierogi, Armenian Manti, Chinese Shuumai, Japanese Gyoza, Spanish or Mexican Empanadas – or in other words, stuffed dumplings! Yum! I think stuffed dumplings might be an article in the future.

Anyway back to skewered, grilled food. As I got a little older and started to cook, I tried skewering chicken, and shrimp as well as beef. I found that they're all good, and you can also cook a lot of different vegetables besides those basic onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. And as you can imagine based on all of the different countries that grill skewered food, there are lots of different meats, vegetables and spices that can be used too. You can make something as simple as skewered cubes of beef, separated by onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms, brushed with (or marinated in) olive oil and seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and grilled (or broiled in the oven). Or something as exotic as, minced fish mixed with shredded coconut and spices molded to the skewer and grilled.

Once you cut all of your food up, the skewering and the cooking is very fast, so this can be a quick mid-week meal too. You can also incorporate dipping sauces, like we did with the oil-based fondues (October 8, 2011). If you're having a party you can cut up different meats and veggies, put them in bowls and let people make their own skewers. So once again, get creative, experiment with your cooking and enjoy.

Basic Shish Kabob
½ c olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 lb chicken, cut into 1 - 1 ½” cubes
1 bell pepper (any color), cut into 1 – 1 ½” squares
½ onion (yellow, white or red), cut into 1 – 1 ½” squares
8-12 mushrooms
8-12 cherry tomatoes
8-10 bamboo skewers

In a large bowl mix olive oil, garlic and salt. Add the remaining ingredients, allow to marinate for at least 2 hours before cooking (you can marinate up to 24 hours in advance). Soak bamboo skewers in water for about an hour prior to grilling to keep them from burning. Alternate meat and vegetables on skewers, grill for about 10-15 minutes, turning every 2-3 minutes until the meat is cooked. Serves 4.

Other meat ideas:

Other veggie/fruit ideas:
Corn on the cob (sliced into ½” thick rounds)
Yellow Squash
Brussels Sprouts
Fingerling Potatoes (boiled until cooked)

Other spice ideas:
Chili Peppers
Soy Sauce

Dipping Sauce ideas:
Dijon mustard & Vinegar
Yogurt & Cucumbers
Soy Sauce, Ginger & Brown Sugar
Vinegar & Chili Sauce
Peanut Sauce

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