Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Shish Kebab

A blending of the Persian word Kabab کباب, meaning fried meat and şiş, Turkish for skewer

Originally a favorite quick cooking method used by nomadic people from the Middle East and Asian plains; they reasoned that because the small cubed bits of meat expose more surface area by volume to the heat of the fire, the meat cooked very quickly.

Such were the rigors of a nomadic existence without permanent campsites, well established hearths and a reliable source of fuel, makeshift shallow fire pits were the norm. In fact, everyone cooked their own meals, sharing the long coal beds and every night was a feast of sorts with strong drink, story telling, dancing and the smell of open pit cooking, always a sure bet to make a meal a feast.

Classic Shish Kebab

  • 1 pound of lean sirloin (below the loin) cut in 2" cubes sliced against the grain
  • 4 skewers

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


Combine ingredients; pour over meat in a plastic bag, making certain each piece is well coated. Seal the bag and place it in a leak proof container. Refrigerate at least 3 hours, overnight is better.


If using wooden skewers, soak in fresh water approximately one hour prior to gambling the shish kabob.

Skewer each cube of meat through the center, across the grain. Repeat using approximately 1/4 of the meat for each skewer leaving a 1/2" space between each piece.

Lay each skewer across a bed of coals suing a wall of bricks to support each end of the skewer and raising the meat about 1 -1/12 inches above the coals.

Turn occasionally and check for wellness by gently squeezing a piece between your fore finger and thumb. Rare will feel like the heal of your thumb and medium well when the piece feels like the area between the base of your thumb and first finger (something you will learn by experience).

Serve with fresh roasted vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes and egg plant are a good compliment) fresh mint and a bowl of marinade, freshly prepared for the purpose. (Note, don’t reuse marinating liquid from the meat, it can cross contaminate the vegetables)

There is an almost inexhaustible variety of local derivations of Kebab. If you are a devotee or just have too much time on your hands there is a very comprehensive list here, anyone for kebab?

No comments: