~Stick It: Sweet & Sour Shrimp & Pineapple Kabobs~
Everyone loves to eat food on a stick. Hot, cold, raw or cooked, it's pre-portioned, super-easy to serve, and, it's portable too. Just take a walk around the world. Food-on-a-stick is street food, and, everyone eating it has a happy look on their face. When it comes to grilled food on a stick, I think people get a spring in their step. Be it thin pieces of meat threaded onto a skewer or bite-sized chunks of meat, vegetables and/or fruit all in a row, folks will stand in line for a kabob.
It's been going on for centuries. "Kabbaba" is the ancient Aramaic word for "to char" or "to burn". It's no accident that medieval Persian soldiers, who used their swords to grill their food over open fires in the field are credited with inventing "kabobs".
While simple in theory, there are a few easy techniques you can learn to achieve the perfect kabobing experience. For example, double skewering some foods to prevent them from spinning around on the stick when you try to turn them over. I've written all about it in my post ~ How to: Properly Skewer food for Grilling Kabobs ~ which can be found in Categories 10 or 15.
There's more. When making kabobs, I put the protein on one set of skewers and the fruits and or vegetables on a second set. Why? Because all proteins have different cooking requirements. Some cook fast and some cook slow. Some are best served medium-rare while others need to be fully cooked. Fruits and ready-to-eat vegetables get grilled to enhance their flavor and only need to be cooked to the desired degree of doneness. Tip from Mel: For perfectly cooked kabobs, skewer like items together.
Fire up your grill or get out your grill pan, today we're making Chinese-inspired sweet & sour shrimp & pineapple kabobs!
Pineapple goes well with several proteins: poultry, pork, seafood and tofu too, and, it's a popular combo in many cultures. The first Chinese immigrants to arrive in the US were mostly Cantonese, and, Canton, China is the home of the famous "sweet and sour pork" dish eaten annually for Chinese New Year.
With the Cantonese people, came their love for bright, bold flavor and fresh ingredients. Sweet and sour sauce is a perfect balance of sugar, vinegar, chile pepper and ginger. Funny enough, it was we Americans who added ketchup to it, and, don't laugh, it's so good, the Chinese adopted it!
If you've never tasted homemade sweet and sour sauce, prepare to be wowed, because: unless you're eating it in a place that makes their own, sadly, it's a concoction of corn syrup, citric acid and food coloring. Anyone, anywhere can do better than that in 5 minutes. My easy recipe ~ Sweet & Sour Sauce for Seafood, Poultry or Pork ~, in Categories 8 or 13, yields 2 cups.
Skewering the Shrimp, Pineapple, Bell Peppers & Onions:
2 pounds extra-large (26-30 count) shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails left on
1 large, ripe pineapple
~ Step 1. Using a large chef's knife, remove the top and bottom, then stand it up and slice down the sides to remove the prickly skin. Slice it in half, then, slice each half into four quarters. Remove about 1/2" from the center core of each eighth, then, slice each length into 1/2"-3/4" chunks.
3-4 each: green and red bell peppers, sliced into quarters, white ribs removed, chopped into 1"-1 1/4" pieces
1 very large sweet onion, chopped into 1"-1 1/4" pieces
Arrange kabobs on grill grids over indirect heat on medium-high heat of gas grill, or, on grill grids of a large grill pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop. The heat on all grills and stovetops is not created equal, so, be sure to monitor the process, which goes quickly, carefully.
Grill kabobs (all at once or in batches depending upon the size of your grill) turning only once: until shrimp are cooked through and light golden on both sides, and, pineapple is showing signs of light browning around the edges. On grill and in grill pan, about 8-9 minutes for shrimp (4-4 1/2 minutes per side) and 7-8 minutes for pineapple (3 1/2-4 minutes per side).
Serve w/steamed jasmine rice + warm sweet & sour sauce:
Special Equipment List: 24, 8" metal or wooden skewers; cutting board; chef's knife; gas grill or large, double-burner-sized grillpan
Cook's Note: Want to REALLY impress people? Steam your rice a day ahead. My recipe for ~ Leftover Rice? Use it to Make Chinese Fried Rice ~, which can be found in Categories 3, 4, 13, 14 or 26, is an over-the-top accompaniment to these kabobs.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)