Sure, kebabs are skewers of meat and vegetables, but that definition doesn’t do them justice. After a wonderful lesson with Zee and her husband, Rafi, I think of them in verb form. “To kebab” is to transform a meal into a party.
These principles that apply to all kebabs: chicken, beef, shish (lamb), and even lula (also known as “kofta kebabs” in Middle Eastern cuisine.)
Order of Operations
- Prepare your Vegetables. Why do we wash, cut, and salt our vegetables first? Because the salt loosens them up so they can be skewered without breaking. It takes a few minutes for the veggies to tenderize, so please be patient.
- Cut and marinate your meat. Fire up the grill at this point, so it will be hot in time to cook. Alternatively, you can marinate your meat well in advance. In this case, make sure to start your fire before preparing the skewers.
- Bust out the skewers. Zee uses stainless steel skewers (square shaped for cubed kebabs, and flat ones for lula kebab.) If you don’t want to invest in stainless steel or are having a large party, buy some bamboo skewers and soak them in water first, so they don’t catch fire. To economize the skewers for space, don’t thread the meats and veggies vertically (length-wise); rather, thread them horizontally (width-wise).
- Cap off the ends. This is the fun part. It’s kind of like sewing or weaving. You start with red onion or pepper, then add a meat and veggies according to your own artistry. Large pieces of pepper and onion should always be placed at either end of the skewers to “tie off” the ends.
- BBQ! To achieve the best flavor, use 100% Natural Oak Mesquite Charcoal such as by Sonora Charcoal. If there is already a large quantity of ash in your BBQ from prior use, empty it out of the cooking vessel before starting your fire. And if you have gas grill, don’t let that stop you. Just keep kebabbing.
- Serve. To remove the cooked kebabs from the skewers, use a piece of pita bread as your “mitt” and pull the meat off the skewers. Retain the pita bread (because it will soaked in delicious fatty) and set it atop the meat to secure the moisture and heat. Later, hand it off to your guest of honor, if you have one.
- It’s best to serve immediately, while the kebabs are juicy. However, if you cannot serve them right away, transfer your kebabs to a pan in the oven, heated to 250 degrees. This temperature will keep them warm without cooking any further. If you are catering a large party, this is the way to go.