They’re fun, they’re flexible, they’re shish kebabs! Shown above are Glazed Beef Kebabs with Onion, Red Pepper and Pineapple, courtesy of Chick in the Kitchen.
There’s something mysteriously alluring about eating meat off a stick, which is why shish kebabs are always a hit. The term “shish kebab” is said to have Turkish and Armenian roots, but the concept of eating skewered meat has fans around the world. From Greece’s souvlaki to Indonesia’s heavenly satay with peanut sauce, there seems to be a version almost anywhere you go.
What’s in a Shish Kebab?
Some kebabs involve only meat, while others combine meat, vegetables, and even fruit. The meat can be marinated, then cut into bite-size chunks (about one-inch square), or simply seasoned prior to cooking. If the kebab involves only meat, the meat can be cut into a long strip and then threaded on the skewer. Other meat-only kebabs are made with ground meat that’s shaped around the skewer, in a sort of hot dog shape.
Why make Shish Kebabs?
Aside from being simple to make, shish kebabs allow you to cook meat and vegetables together in fun, portable format. With a side of rice or couscous, you’ve got a great meal. Another bonus is that you don’t have to follow a recipe. If you’ve got some meat (or shrimps, fish, or tofu), you can marinate it (or not) and thread it on skewers with any combination of vegetables you like. The marinade could be bottled Italian dressing, or Teriyaki Sauce, or something of your own creation. Some meats and vegetables work better than others on a skewer. Look below for a list of kebab-friendly ingredients and basic cooking instructions. Below that, you’ll find some links to a smorgasbord of shish kebab recipes.
What can I Skewer?
Meat: Chicken, beef, lamb or pork (filets or ground), or sausage
Fish: Salmon, tuna or other firm-fleshed fish
Shellfish: Shrimp or scallops
Chunks of raw onion or whole pearl onions
Bell peppers (cut into bite-size pieces)
Cherry tomatoes (whole)
Zucchini (bite-size pieces)
Eggplant (bite-size pieces)
How do I Prepare Shish Kebabs?
- Soak wooden skewers (available at most supermarkets) in water for at least half an hour before cooking, so that they don’t burn, or use metal skewers.
- Cut shish kebab ingredients into bite-size pieces.
- To give the meat more flavour, marinate it for at least half an hour. Seasoning the meat just prior to cooking is another option.
- Wash and cut vegetables or fruit into bite-size pieces.
- Thread your meats and veggies using two skewers instead of one. That way the pieces won’t tend to swing around the skewer and there’s less chance it will break off.
- Thread ingredients on two skewers, alternating meat and vegetables.
- Kebabs can be grilled, broiled or baked; cooking time will depend on the method of cooking you choose. If you’re grilling, it typically takes 15 minutes with a flip halfway through.
- Spray the grilling or cooking surface with oil to help prevent sticking.
Shish Kebab Recipes
- There isn’t really a recipe for these Glazed Beef Kebabs with Onion, Red Pepper and Pineapple, but the picture is inspiring and this post illustrates the flexibility of shish kebabs. Chick in the Kitchen explains that rather than marinating the meat, she glazes it with a mix of two bottled sauces.
- If you can make hamburger patties, then you’re ready to try these exotic Lamb Seekh Kebabs from Chef Jeena’s Kitchen. These are meat-only kebabs, made with ground lamb and several spices that’s formed around skewers. Her photo tutorial makes the process crystal clear.
- Here’s one for Greek-style Chicken Souvlaki. A head’s up: the recipe calls for the meat to be marinated at least four hours before cooking. There are no vegetables in sight here, but feel free to add some if you like.
- If you’re feeling more adventurous, go for this Rosemary Chicken Skewers with Berry Sauce. The chicken marinates for only an hour, but there’s a berry sauce to make on the stove. The writers describe sopping up the sauce with anything they can get their hands on, though, so it must be worth it!
- Little Spatula’s Lemon Chicken Skewers demonstrate that a marinade can consist of two simple ingredients: lemon juice and olive oil.
- Fish tastes great on a stick, too. These Tarragon Salmon Kebabs with Sour Cream Sauce don’t need to be marinated ahead of time. You brush on an oil-and-vinegar mix prior to cooking, then get to dunk the finished product into the sour cream sauce.
- Try shrimp kebabs done Italian-style. In this simple recipe for Shrimp Brochettes, the shrimp are marinated with breadcrumbs, and then cooked.
- You can combine salmon, shrimp and vegetables in a single teriyaki kebab as the Cook Mobile shows.
- Rachel Ray gets the prize for originality: these Chip-Encrusted Chicken Skewers are marinated in a yogurt-based mix, then rolled in potato chips (kettle-style, no less). Thread the chicken pieces on skewers, alternating with grapes.
- When it’s time for dessert, try these Fun Fruit Kebabs. They’re rolled in coconut and sure to be a hit with the kids. (Kathy’s Fruit Salad video shows how to cut fruit and make kabobs)
- If you’re having a party, consider setting up stations of kebab ingredients and letting guests do the assembling. Here’s a DIY Kebab Party guide from Food and Wine.
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