Having been exposed to the Middle Eastern culinary culture, I am ashamed to admit that I nearly forgot about shish kebabs. It nearly would have never occurred to me to make shish kebabs until hubby recently mentioned that he had a hankering for them. Otherwise, the notion would have never surfaced. Reflecting back on that thought makes me wonder why the thought of learning how to make shish kabobs has never entered my mind even once after all these years of eating schwarmah, hummus, harif, pita, and falafel. I knew I was leaving something out but I couldn’t remember what it was. I suppose shish kebabs have unintentionally sat in the back seat for a while as it has been years since I’ve last eaten one. I only remember eating one at a Middle Eastern themed restaurant a while back when I was around 10. I nearly forgot how good they were. I am thankful that he requested for them as it was indeed a good idea in hindsight.
So what is a shish kebab? A shish kebab is a skewer with meat and vegetable that is normally grilled. It’s practically a meal on a stick. It consists of beef, chicken fish, as well as vegetables such as onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and eggplant. Shish kebab comes from a Turkish term that translates as skewer and roasted meat – a signature Turkish dish. Kebabs back then were a solution for nomadic tribes. A shish kebab marinade was not only used to tenderize the meat but to also neutralize the gamey flavor in some of them. Nowadays, the shish kebab has entered into most cultures in some form or another. For instance, Asian cultures have satay, roasted skewered meats served with a peanut dipping sauce. Yakitori, a Japanese version, is essentially skewered grilled fowl. Shish kebabs are also known as brochettes in France which literally means skewers.
For a medium-rare cook on your meat, it is recommended that you use wooden skewers instead of metal skewers metal has the tendency to absorb heat more. Understandingly, getting splinters in your mouth from eating the kebabs right off the skewer doesn’t sound pleasant. Fortunately for me, I never had that problem even though I can sometimes be clumsy when eating using my hands. If you don’t like the idea behind using a skewer, you can just pan-fry the ingredients and stuff them in a pita or laffa once they’ve been cooked.
Shish kebabs are a perfect choice for a family/social gathering or a barbecue. The versatility of shish kebabs allows you to use any combination of ingredients of your choice to please the palate. While meat is an integral part of shish kebabs, you can create your own vegetarian version for this shish kebab recipe by exclusively using vegetables or vegan chicken/beef. Shish kebabs can be prepared in advance, making it a crowd pleaser for your guests while simultaneously keeping you out of the kitchen. I used chili sauce among other condiments and spices for my shish kebab marinade but feel free to let your imagination run wild with your own marinade.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 1/2 – 2 lbs of sirloin or flank steak cut into bite-sized cubes
- Onion cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 peppers chopped
- 8 oz of button mushrooms
- 1 eggplant cut into bite-sized squares
- Cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup of sweet and spicy chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of coriander
- 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric
- Salt and pepper for taste
Combine the last 9 ingredients with the meat in a bowl. Cover and marinate for several hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Thread meat, alternating with the vegetables, onto skewers. Place an oven-proof cooling rack on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place shish kebabs on a rack and bake for 15 minutes for medium doneness.
Yields 6 servings