Skewin' Around

Because no one can deny food on a stick
Photo: Dave Katz/Tasting Table 

The history of people using sticks, metal rods and skewers to grill food over an open fire is an old one. The experience is primitive, intoxicating and, at times, barbaric. Skewers evoke all the senses.

And the tradition will never go away, because it's quick, easy and ideal for entertaining. Think about it: You put something on a stick—a piece of meat, seafood or vegetable—season it with some spices and put it over a fire. It's cooking at its most fundamental.

Cultures from around the world already know this. From Persian shish kebabs that use sword-like metal rods to hold minced meat to Japanese yakitori that features pieces of chicken speared onto bamboo skewers, eating on a stick is universal.

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Jessi Singh, of New York's Babu Ji, grew up eating off sticks in his native India. For him, the experience was not so much a phenomenon or trend as a part of everyday life, the go-to way to cook and entertain.

"You want to enjoy everyone's company. You don't have to worry about dishes or cleanup," Singh says.

We've developed three simple recipes for your next party: Pork, spiced with turmeric and marinated in yogurt, and pineapple skewers (see the recipe); eggplant-and-red onion skewers that get a ginger-miso marinade for a smoky, crunchy finish (see the recipe); and grilled halloumi cheese (no bread) paired with cherry tomatoes and topped with chile oil and loads of mint (see the recipe).

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The best thing about throwing a grill party with skewers (besides the miniscule postmeal mess) is that most of the prep can be done beforehand. All the meat and vegetables can be cut, seasoned, marinated and skewered ahead of time. All you need is a few salads to complement those skewers.

In an ideal world, you would invite guests, and everyone would grill and celebrate outside so they can enjoy the smell of burning coals and fat dripping off the skewers. But since the seasons are changing, we made sure these recipes could be made indoors on a grill pan.

Summer is coming to a close, as it tends to do every year, but there is no need for the celebration to end.


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