Kabobs, brochettes, skewers, satays… With apologies to Shakespeare, meat on a stick by any other name would smell as sweet. Or savory, as the case may be.
Back in the Dark Ages of my restaurant cooking, if we cooked it on a skewer, it was a brochette – and beef. Satay hadn’t become mainstream in the USofA, yet, and kabob meant shish kabob – lamb. I don’t recall anyone calling anything a skewer – other than the metal rod the meat and vegetables were threaded on.
My first experiences with satay that I remember were in The Philippines and in Singapore – bar girls in Olongapo wanting us to buy barbecue – something sailors would call monkey meat because we all know how culturally sensitive sailors were in the early ’70s. I don’t really know what it was – probably goat or mutton – but it went well with copious amounts of the local San Miguel beer.
Singapore was similar but different – a bit more refined, even though it was also street food. Spicy, tender, and cooked over open flame on a street corner in the now-defunct Old City, or on the now-defunct Bougis Street. There, it was usually served with a peanut sauce and consumed with copious amounts of Tiger beer.
Both places have changed dramatically since I was a lad serving in Uncle Sam’s Yacht Club and the places the rose-colored glasses of my youth remember no longer exist. In a way, that’s good, because if I ever went back and had them, again, I’d be really bummed if they weren’t as good as I remember them to be. This way, they will always be perfection.
And speaking of perfection, tonight’s chicken kabobs/skewers/brochettes were pretty good! I marinated chicken breasts in two types of rice wine, sesame oil, sambal oelek, sesame seeds, and garlic, threaded them on skewers with onions and bell peppers, and grilled until done.
Really simple. Really tasty. And another fun stroll down Culinary Memory Lane.
Two weeks to retirement. I’m sure there are going to be a lot more memories coming forward…