Shish Kebab Tips
by Hope Pryor
Cooking with a skewer, known as shish kebab, kabob, shashlik, even French dishes designated en brochette, is one of the oldest dishes known to mankind, tracing its roots back to earliest times when man impaled pieces of meat on a stick to cook over an open fire.
No matter how you spell it or what you call it, cooking food on a "stick" is fun and tastes great!
Asia and the Near East are considered the birthplaces of the kebab. With its origins deeply rooted into a multitude of nationalities, it's no wonder that the dish has so many spelling variations. The invention of the kebab was a boon to nomadic people, whose metal spears and swords also doubled as cooking equipment.
A kebab can be any combination of cubed meat, seafood, vegetables, or fruits arranged on skewers, marinated or brushed with a sauce, and then broiled or grilled. The skewer can be as simple as a green wooden stick of a camper or as elaborate as the silver-handled skewer of the gourmet. More commonly used are simple skewers made of stainless steel or packaged wooden skewers available in assorted lengths.
When using wooden skewers, always soak in water for 30 minutes before using to prevent them from burning on the grill or in the broiler.
Skewers with flat sides (rather than round) hold ingredients more securely.
Dip a paper towel in vegetable oil and rub over metal skewers before threading the food for easy removal once cooked.
Be sure to cut kebab ingredients into same-sized pieces for even cooking.
Partially cook foods that take longer to cook, such as potatoes and onions, so that the kebab's ingredients cook more evenly.
If cherry tomatoes are used, add them near the end of the cooking time, this will ensure that they remain whole...and not fall off through the rack and into the coals!
When turning skewers for cooking, use oven mitts and/or long-handled tongs to turn hot skewers.
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