Choosing The Wrong Protein For Kebabs Can Be A Huge Mistake

Aesthetically pleasing and mouthwateringly delicious, kebabs fresh off the grill offer a straightforward dish for chefs of all abilities to assemble. But quickly throwing together ingredients to create your skewers could be the fatal flaw that destroys the meal. Biting into leathery chunks or watching crumbly pieces of protein slip through the grill grates will do nothing to lighten the mood of your dinner party. Fortunately, you have plenty of hardy options that can hold their own when skewered and seared above the flames.

Though softer veggies like tomatoes can be held in place by firmer ones like bell peppers and onions, you'll need to give careful thought when choosing the protein you intend to skewer. Without considering the composition of the proteins you choose to sandwich in between chunks of vegetables or pieces of fruit, your kebabs could be destined for the coals at the bottom of your grill. As you browse the aisles of your grocery store, look for the meats or plant-based meats that will hold shape and stay tender when placed onto a hot grill, as burning flames can dry out ingredients quickly. 

A mindful approach to making kebabs

Hearty seafood like monkfish, shrimp, and scallops will remain in place when pierced by your skewers (and taste delicious when pulled off the grill), but flaky, soft fish fillets like trout and tilapia should never be used in kebabs and are better left for the oven or skillet. 

For meat lovers, choose meats that offer firmer textures for grilling. Instead of chicken breasts, which can dry out easily, opt for chicken thighs, which tend to be juicy even when cooked at high heat. Skirt steaks and ribeyes are better to pierce than leaner cuts of beef, since they have more fat marbled throughout. For leaner meat options, marinated pieces of top sirloin and New York Strip offer tender bites when grilled. And avoid reaching for petite sirloin steaks — these thinner pieces of meat will cook too fast and result in tougher, less tasty mouthfuls.

Vegetarians can choose extra firm blocks of tofu, chunks of tempeh, seitan, or squares of paneer to include in the lineup for meat-free and protein-packed barbecued skewers.