Sosaties 101

We collected kebab recipes that will take you on a gourmet journey from East to West.

01 Mar 2012

Scroll down for 5 fabulous kebab recipes!

Whether you're having a South African sosatie or an Asian satay, spiedies from New York or shashlik from Russia, braaiing is much more fun if your food is threaded onto a skewer.

This is to Greece what the hamburger is to America. Usually whole cuts of beef, pork, mutton or chicken are cooked on huge vertical skewers. The cook slices the meat from the outside as it cooks and serves it in a pitta along with lettuce, tomato, onions and tzatziki. When making sou-vlaki at home thread smaller cubes of meat onto skewers.

Delicious sosaties
Sosaties were introduced to South Africa by slaves from the East. The marinade for a traditional recipe contains milk which helps to make the meat wonderfully tender.

Spiedies are like skewered hamburgers. Meat cubes are threaded onto a skewer, braaied and served between two slices of Italian bread with a sauce. Spiedies originated in the central part of New York State where they're just as popular as hamburgers are in the rest of America. The word spiedie is derived from "spiedo", the Italian word for a meat spit.

These huge Russian kebabs resemble Turkish shish kebabs. Shashlik stalls popup everywhere in Russia in summer. Large meat cubes of lamb, mutton, beef, game,pork, goat and even camel are threaded onto metal skewers, sometimes with vege-tables, and braaied over an open fire or coals.

Espetada can be found in nearly every restaurant in Portugal. These giant kebabs are so popular a special vertical metal stand has been devised with a hook to hang the skewer and a small drip bowlat the bottom.In Madeira the islanders head for the mountains for a braai on weekends and holidays with only coarse salt, a few garlic cloves and olive oil in their picnic baskets.En route they stop at the butcher to buy the best-quality meat. The meat cubes are threaded onto bay twigs picked right therein the forest, sprinkled with salt and chopped garlic and brushed with olive oil while cooking over the coals.

12 Secrets of successful skewered food

* If using wooden skewers or twigs such as rosemary or bay, soak the min water overnight to prevent burning.

* If you don't have time for soaking wrap the exposed ends in aluminium foil.

* Cut meat for skewers into fairly large cubes to allow for shrinking and pre-vent it drying out. Thread the pieces tightly together, it helps to keep the meat juicy.

* Meat should be cooked only until medium done so it isn't tough and tasteless.

* Unlike meat, chicken and fish cubes should be cut into smaller cubes and loosely threaded to ensure they cook through.

* Remember to baste food with marinade while cooking.

* If threading various ingredients on a skewer ensure the food is cut so everything will be done at the same time. For instance if you're using cherry tomatoes, cut onions, peppers and meat into smaller pieces so they're done at the same time as the tomatoes.

* Insert skewers into the thickest part of the food. If the food is large or wide, such as prawns, use two skewers to prevent them swivelling around the skewers as you turn them during cooking.

* Cook kebabs over a medium to medium-low fire.

* Try to move the skewered food as little as possible during preparation and cooking. This will prevent the food from slipping off the skewers.

* Discard wooden skewers after use.

* If you make kebabs often invest in flat metal skewers, they're reusable and the shape means food won't swivel when you turn them.

8 kinds of skewers

Wooden skewers for kebabs

Long wooden skewers for espetada

Short wooden skewers for satay

Metal skewers for espetada and shashlik

Long rosemary twigs, cleaned and stripped of leaves

Thin bay twigs, cleaned and stripped of leaves

Sugar cane, cleaned

Lemongrass stems, cleaned

5 Things to do with kebabs:

Beef and brinjal kebabs

Garlic chicken kebabs

Tikka fish kebabs

Cajun kebabs

Garlic crayfish with mussel kebabs


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