Food 101: How To Make Shish Kebab
Everyone knows my favorite season is Summer. Everything about it is awesome. The weather is great, you can enjoy being outside, plants are in bloom, fresh fruits and vegetables are growing, and the list goes on… I guess if you don’t tolerate heat well, you could go on about the weather not being great and drag in that tired, pointless argument of ‘Derp but if you’re cold you can always put on more layers, if it’s hot you can’t take more clothes off.’ Seriously that explanation makes sense in the very plainest of forms, but it makes absolutely no sense in the real world. Also, I doooo love when people in the first world with air conditioned homes and air conditioned cars and pools and refrigerators and freezers list off their white person problems and piss and moan about how it’s too hot during the Summertime. Oh I do love it!
But really, come on, how can anyone complain when it’s barbecue season? Definitely, inarguably one specific great point about Summer is grilling, which cements it in the running with Autumn when ranking seasons based on their food. We’ve already explained how to grill in another post, but now we’re gonna talk about one tried and true favorite, skewered meat, AKA shish kebab!
Shish kebab originated in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries as an easy way to cook foods outside using barbecue pits and other campfire-esque means. All you need are skewers, food, and an open flame. In modern times, you can still use a true barbecue if you’re lucky enough to have one, but a plain old backyard barbecue grill gets the job done just as easily.
Standard Shish Kebab Recipe
- 2-3 lbs chicken/pork/beef/etc cut into cubes
- Assorted vegetables cut into strips or cubes
- Bamboo skewers
- Dry rub seasoning and/or marinade sauce
Shish kebab is really easy in that it doesn’t really have a true recipe or complicated procedure. It’s an incredibly oldschool cooking method, so there’s no need to get fancy. Just chop your meat and veggies up into 1″ cubes or 2″ strips, and season them with any dry rub, be it one you made at home or storebought ones like McCormick’s and the like. If you want you can instead marinate the food, and brush with marinating or barbecue sauce while they cook too, if that’s up your alley too.
However, there is one small prep step before you cook your foods, and that’s the skewers. You can buy them at pretty much any grocery store, they’re common. If you’ve never seen, they’re just giant wooden toothpicks. They do sell metal ones which are reusable, but they’re not ideal. Think of it this way. What happens when you combine metal with heat? Yeah, that’s not something you want to be handling while eating your food.
Anyway, this step isn’t super important, but it will save you a potential hassle later on. Make sure to soak your skewers in cool water for about 20-30 minutes before you place the meat and vegetables on them. Doing so prevents the wood from scorching, burning, and possibly even disintegrating in the hot grill.
Once the skewers are complete, simply stab all your foods one by one onto the skewers leaving about 2 or 3 inches on the ends. After that, heat a grill to high-medium flame, and grill them for 5-7 minutes per side. They’re going to look nice and grill-y when they’re done, since they tend to cook really quickly. Once they’re done, you can eat them directly off of the skewers, or if you’re no fun you can just slide the food off and eat it with a fork (if so, what the hell man.)
- Obviously you can make all vegetable shish kebabs to go vegetarian. Either way, shish kebab is pretty healthy since it’s just grilled meats and veggies. Even using meats like beef won’t be so bad since a lot of the fat renders off from the high heat. (You know us though, we’re just gonna say stick to chicken) It’s also gluten-free, as most grilled meat dishes tend to be!
- Some vegetables and other foods that we recommend include peppers, onions, pineapple, mushrooms, watermelon, potatoes, and squash. You could try using tomatoes, but in our experience they tend to scorch and sort of… explode, since they’re all water.
- Many people grill their shish kebab on foil, but frankly I see this as blasphemy. They’re meant to be grilled on an open flame. If you put them on foil, they’ll cook yeah, but they won’t get that delicious, outer charred grill flavor. If you’re that concerned about the food sticking, just make sure to oil your grill very well using a towel beforehand.
- If you’re using a marinade, do one of two things: either set aside half of the marinade to use for brushing onto the kebabs while grilling, or after marinating the food cook the juice in a pot until it boils to kill off any bacteria in it.