July 4th 2014: stuff on sticks

Courtesy Hurricane Arthur, it was too wet to grill outside, so we improvised and used my Yakitori grill to make stick based foods: Suya, Yang Rou Chuan, and Eggplant Rollups.  Plus hotdogs (not on sticks), baked Mac and Cheese, Orzo and Shrimp Salad, green salad, and ribs from Redbones. Guests brought watermelon gazpacho (amazing), sangria (also amazing), and potato salad (fabulous).  All in all a wet, but successful 4th.


Suya (Nigerian Beef BBQ)

Recipe By: Funke Koleosho
Serving Size: 8


Suya is an all time Nigerian favourite and it is gaining much popularity internationally, as was quite evident in one recent CNN documentary/report. Suya is so popular, you find a mai suya (suya vendor) on every street corner you turn in major Nigerian towns and cities!

As we all know, quite simply, suya refers to any meat seasoned with the unique blend of traditional Nigerian spices and condiments, collectively called Yaji, and barbecued over hot smoky fire. Even though we are more familiar with the more popular beef suya, nowadays, there is chicken suya, fish suya and even veggie suya!

This unique spice used to make suya, Yaji, literally translates “the hot or temperamental one”. It’s supposed to be a really spicy mix with its main ingredients being chilli powder and ground ginger. The name suya itself is believed to originate from the sound you make when your mouth reacts to the fiery heat that hits you when you eat it….(shuuuuuuu….yaaaahhhhhh).

Now, I really love suya but am not a fan of the overbearing fiery heat of the spiciness (from the chilli powder), which apparently some people really enjoy, especially with super chilled lager (beer)!

Though there are some fantastic mai suya’s out there selling some excellent tasting suya, there are some equally not so good ones…I figured that making my own would be a sure way to get the right taste for me every time. I tell you, it’s so so easy. All you need is a good yaji blend and good cut of meat. Slicing the meat could be daunting but fear not, get your butcher to do it for you and if not, freeze the meat for a while and when its semi-frozen, slice thinly with a very sharp knife….. Give it a try.


1 pound Beef with some streak of fat (the fat will prevent burning when on the grill)
5-6 tablespoons Suya mix – yaji (use more or less depending on chilli content)
2-3 tablespoons Groundnut oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon Groundnut paste or peanut butter, (optional)
1 Beef seasoning cube
bamboo skewers

Iceberg lettuce
2 or 3 Salad tomatoes, washed and sliced
1 Red onion, thinly sliced

1. Soak skewers for at least 30 minutes
2. Combine  the suya (yaji) mix and seasoning cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add some groundnut oil (the amount depends on the amount of beef used) and groundnut paste. Mix into a wet paste.
3. Thinly slice beef into sheet-like pieces. Rinse and place pieces and add to mixing bowl. Work spices into the meat and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours.
4. Skewer the beef pieces as you desire. Heat up an iron griddle (you may also use an open barbecue grill), and place the skewered beef.
5. Allow to cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side or until meat is cooked to your preference. Avoid burning by regularly turning.
6. For the perfect presentation, remove the suya from the skewers used to barbecue (I expect some burning to have occurred) and string onto new satay sticks.
7. Serve suya with sliced onions and tomatoes on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce. Enjoy eating it with your preferred cold drink. 


Afro Food “Suya Meat Rub” is available from Amazon and is quite tasty.



Lamb Kebab 羊肉串 (Yang Rou Chuan)

Recipe By: Saveur
Serving Size: 8

1 lb. boneless lamb shoulder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 white onion, minced
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
kosher salt
bamboo skewers

1. Cut lamb into 3/4 inch pieces.
2. Whisk 2 tbsp chile flakes, 2 tbsp cumin, the oil, Sichuan peppercorns, white pepper, garlic, onions and salt in a bowl.  
3. Add lamb, toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
4. Soak skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.
5. Heat charcoal grill to high.  Bank coals on one side. 
6. Remove lamb from marinade and thread onto skewers.
7. Sprinkle lamb with remaining cumin, chile flakes, plus salt.
8. Grill lamb on hottest part of the grill, turning as needed, until slightly charred and cooked through 2-3 minutes per side, 10-12 minutes total.



Eggplant Rollups with Chili, Mint and Feta

Recipe By: Paul Harsha (Adapted from Veggie BBQ Ideas)
Yield: 25 rollups
Olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 eggplants
1 red chili (jalapeño, serrano, or habenero), deseeded
1 bell pepper (yellow or orange), deseeded and cut into chunks
6 oz. feta cheese, cut into cubes or crumbled
1 bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped
Cocktail sticks (or toothpicks)

1. Put the lemon juice in a food processor and add the chili.  Pulse until finely chopped.
2. Add the bell pepper and pulse until  just chopped.
3. Add the feta and pulse until just blended.  Taste and add more lemon juice, if needed.
4. Add the mint and pulse until incorporated.  You still want to be able to see the mint and bell pepper. The feta should be creamy.  Cover and refrigerate.
5. Cut the eggplant lengthways, discarding the ‘outside’ slices. Each slice should be about 1/4 inch thick.  It’s easiest if you use a mandolin, but a sharp knife will do.
6. Brush olive oil over both sides of the slices Grill on a hot area of the barbecue for around 2 minutes on each side or until lightly colored. A kitchen grill also works well for this.
7. Remove from the barbecue and let cool.  Cut the eggplant into uniform strips ~2-3 inches x 5 inches.
8. Place a spoonful of the feta mix onto each of the eggplant slices. Roll the eggplant around the mixture and push a cocktail stick through to secure it.
9. Place rolls on a clean plate and serve chilled.


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