The Ingredient You Should Never Use In Kebabs

If you've been to a Middle Eastern restaurant, you've likely seen kebabs or grilled skewers on the menu. And if you've ordered a plate of vegetarian or meaty kebabs served with rice pilaf, salad, and/or hummus, your taste buds are likely still on cloud nine.

Skewered meat (or vegetables) is the simplest version of a kebab, but as Taste Atlas describes, the meat is often marinated first with a variety of spices like garlic, cumin, paprika, and hot pepper flakes (as well as onions, lemon juice, and olive oil). This is then skewered, often with fruits or vegetables, and broiled, roasted, or grilled to perfection.

Though kebabs have a Middle Eastern foundation (per Babbel), there are variations of them around the globe. West African suya is primarily made with beef, hot peppers, and ground peanuts, as noted by Barbecue Bible. In Japan, chicken legs are coated in a sweet soy sauce and then grilled to make chicken and scallion yakitori skewers. And if you ever get the chance to travel to Madeira, be sure to seek out espetadas, which are skewers of beef that utilize bay leaf branches, as well as a mixture of balsamic vinegar, beef stock, vanilla essence, and red chili peppers, via Karan Beef.

Kebabs can include a variety of meats, like beef and chicken, but there's one type of meat that should never be skewered.

Its texture is too soft

Seafood kebabs are just as popular as beef or chicken options, but only when it comes to firm marine proteins like scallops, shrimp, monkfish, or swordfish. These can withstand the heat of a grill and are not susceptible to drying out and falling off the skewers. That's why you'll rarely see delicate fish like tilapia or flounder on a kebab menu. Taste of Home goes in-depth about firm versus softer types of fish, as well as their flavors. So in regard to kebabs, firmer fish like snapper, grouper, salmon, Chilean sea bass, and tuna would all be excellent choices, while walleye, trout, and catfish would be options to pass on.

While the latter choices aren't best for kebabs, you can still grill them using a foil packet, via Dish on Fish. This will make the fish cook more evenly and help to heighten the moisture levels, as noted by City Fish Market. Without a foil packet, the delicate fish varieties may stick to the grill or start flaking. Southern Kitchen also notes that you can add some liquid inside the packet so the food can benefit from steam, though this method is best for the oven.

So the next time you're making grilled kebabs, be sure to steer clear of soft, delicate fish and opt for meaty, firm fish instead.