Sunday, October 4, 2009

Stick It To Ya

A lot of good food comes skewered; sometimes on a stick and even sometimes on a stake, like the delectable (yet grotesque to look at) roasted suckling pig. As for the stick, there's souvlakia, kebab and the venerable satay. Satay was my first taste of skewered bliss and still remains my favourite. I remember childhood picnics with family and friends gathered around the hibachi, awaiting the taste of my mom's super thinly sliced, perfectly seasoned chicken and beef satay. She made it Malaysian style (of course), with her peanut sauce side that I swear is the best there is. One day, I will attempt to make Malaysian satay and sauce myself, (with my mom's guidance of course), but for my first try at stick food, I stuck to the simple: putting stuff on a skewer and popping it into the oven.

It may already be evident that I do love meat, so I'm not sure what came over me, but I was actually at a meat saturation point when I decided to make this meal. So, this is actually a vegetarian dish, and one that could be substantial and flavourful enough to satisfy the strictest of carnivores.

Ingredients: firm tofu, baby peppers or bell peppers, crimini mushrooms, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and marinade (see below).

Soak wooden skewers in water to prevent them from blackening in the oven. Cut up and marinate tofu for a few hours or overnight in a seasoning of your choice. (I used a simplified Indian-style mix of yogurt, cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt.) Cut up larger veggies and marinate whichever ones you'd like to add more flavour to. (I marinated the red onion and crimini mushrooms in garlic, salt and olive oil and tossed the tomatoes and peppers in oil only with a sprinkle of salt.) Thread the ingredients onto the skewers, and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

The skewers taste great on their own, but if you love sauce like I do or have a lot of mint in the garden, this is a great dip to accompany the meal, especially if you're using a curry-ish marinade.

Mint Coconut Chutney:
Blend together: 2 jalapeƱo chilies (de-seeded if you don't want too much heat), 2/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes, 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, 2 cups packed fresh mint leaves, 2 tablespoons water, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, and lemon juice and salt to taste. (Add a shallot and a clove of garlic too if you want more depth of flavour and more kick.)
I have to say that I was quite happy with this veggie meal on sticks, and my guy loved it. (I think he was at meat saturation point too.) But for the next skewer try, I've decided that I'm going to have to stick it to the veggies. There will be meat!

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