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All About Kebabs
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Shish kebabs are perfect choice for guests or family meals. The versatile beauty of shish kebabs allows you to use any combination of meats, seafood, fruits, and/or vegetables to please any palate. Kebabs can be prepared in advance, making it a perfect crowd-pleaser while keeping you out of the kitchen so you can enjoy your guests.

Shish kebab comes from Turkish words literally meaning "skewer" and "roast meat," and a signature Turkish meal. Kebabs were a natural solution for nomadic tribes. Unusual meats were marinated not only to tenderize, but also to get rid of some of the gamey flavor. Today, shish kebabs have expanded into most cultures in some form or another. Oriental cultures have satay, roasted skewered meats served with a dipping sauce usually made with peanuts. Japan has yakitori, which is grilled skewered fowl. In France, they are called brochettes, meaning, "skewer."

A few tips when making your kebabs:

  • Wooden bamboo skewers are inexpensive and easy to find, but they must be soaked at least 30 minutes in water (preferably warm to the touch) prior to use. This keeps them from easily catching fire. If you get into the shish kebab habit, then you may wish to invest in stainless steel reusable skewers.

  • Wash meats and seafood thoroughly and pat dry before skewering and adding to marinade. Be sure to marinate in the refrigerator to avoid food-borne bacteria.

  • Meats should be cut in uniformly sized 1 to 2 -inch cubes for quick and even cooking.

  • Fatty meats can be cooked at a higher temperature. Lean meats will need a longer time at a lower heat.

  • Firm-textured fish (salmon, tuna, mahi-mahi, swordfish, shark, etc.) and shellfish are best for kebabs.

  • Parboil vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, carrots and other dense foods before skewing if you like them fully-cooked in the end product. Baby potatoes can be scrubbed and par-boiled in skins or use canned whole potatoes.

  • When using marinade, a large heavy-duty plastic zip or cooking bag works great for prepared skewers. Be sure to get most of the air out before sealing so the contents are covered with marinade, and turn the bag often while marinating. Marinade is not necessary. You can also just season with your favorite herbs and spices. If using marinade, be sure to marinate at least 30 minutes before cooking. Overnight is even better if you have time to prepare ahead. Discard marinade. Do not re-use it. Prepare a separate batch if you need a dipping sauce.

  • Kebabs can be grilled, broiled or baked. If you don't have a barbecue, you might want to look into an electric tabletop indoor barbecue.

  • Alternate meat with vegetables and fruit on skewers. Be creative. A light spray of cooking oil or simply brushing/moping with your marinade will help keep the kebabs from sticking, as you need turn the kebabs often for even cooking.

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September 22, 2017

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