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What Is a Steak Kabob?

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  • Written By: Gregory Hanson
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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A steak kabob consists of small pieces of steak which have been placed on a skewer for cooking. The meat in a steak kabob is typically beef, but other meats can be used to produce kabobs with unique flavors. Many recipes call for other ingredients to be cooked on the skewers along with the beef. Meat used in kabobs can be seasoned or marinated in many different ways. Kabobs are most often cooked over a grill or open flame but can be cooked in a pan if no open flame is available.

The term kabob derives from Persian, but the steak kabob has spread throughout the world. Americans prepare kabobs over outdoor patio grills. Russians call their kabobs shashliki, and cook them over fires or grills while camping. Similar recipes are still common in the Middle East, as well.

Meat from nearly any animal can be used in a steak kabob, but beef is the most common. Beef is readily available in most parts of the world and is sturdy enough that it will generally not fall off of a skewer during the cooking process. Any other meat that will remain on a skewer can be used in place of beef. Game meats, such as venison, are well-suited to this purpose and add a rich flavor to the kabob.

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Most steak kabob recipes call for the addition of other vegetables or meats to a skewer, to produce a more complicated flavor and more balanced meal. Onions and zucchini are often added to American kabobs, as are peppers and onions. Kabobs that are inspired by the foods common in a particular region often use extra kabob ingredients from that region, such as pineapple for a Hawaiian kabob.

Steak used in kabobs is usually flavored before cooking. This may take the form of a marinade, which is allowed to thoroughly permeate the steak cubes. Marinades run the gamut from conventional barbeque flavors to rich Middle Eastern spice mixtures and fiery Cajun flavors. A spice rub, such as Jamaican jerk seasoning, may also be used on the meat before cooking.

Preparing kabobs generally involves a grill or other open flame. Kabobs may be assembled using either metal or wooden skewers. Wooden skewers are inexpensive, but may burn, although soaking them before use can minimize this risk. Metal skewers, in addition to being fireproof, help to transmit heat to the interior of a steak kabob for even cooking.

While grilling kabobs, chefs may baste the meat with additional marinade, if such a sauce was used. A chicken kabob or vegetable kabob may be prepared at the same time as a steak kabob. This technique can minimize the risk of overcooking vegetables or undercooking meats, as the individual kabobs can be removed from heat when they are ready to eat.

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