Tasty, fun kebabs bring variety on a stick

LOS ANGELES One of the things about a /*kebab*/ is portion control. You've got perfectly portioned protein married with produce - all on one skinny little stick.

"Kebabs originated because cooking fuel was very scarce in the Middle East. They had to cut things very small and cook it quickly," said Executive Chef James Overbaugh of Peninsula Beverly Hills.

The kebab was born out of necessity. Here in the states, chefs like them for the variety.

"What you put on it, the sky's the limit," Overbaugh said.

But there are a few tips. Before you grill, think about the size of the food, texture and cook time.

"How long each piece that you put on there is going to take to cook in relation to everything else," Overbaugh said. He said peaches are great to grill this time of year, as well as watermelon, but if your watermelon are very ripe, they're going to come off very quickly.

Some killer combinations for kebabs include chicken, fig, watermelon and chicken again - all on a rosemary stem with tasty marinade.

For a sweet and spicy kebab, try salmon and shrimp with melon balls and pineapple, all on a sugar cane skewer and a spicy chili mint Asian sauce.

For a traditional kebab, try skirt steak, red peppers, cipollini onions and king oyster mushrooms. Pair it with a chimichurri sauce of parsley, olive oil, spices and garlic.

While Overbaugh frequently pairs protein with produce on each stick, he says skewers with the same food type keeps cooking simple when entertaining large groups.

When it comes to toppings, remember barbecue and other sauce have high sugar content, so put that type on at the end of cooking.

Also note, sauce with acid can breakdown texture of food, which can help leaner meat cuts, and a nice salad dressing can make a great marinade.

Finally, Overbaugh says when using foods that are moist in nature, remember that instead of spraying the grill, you can just spray the actual skewer.

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