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Tiki Beef Kebabs


The tiki is making a comeback, and modern American bartenders are rediscovering the colorful Polynesian drinks that once beguiled my parents. They were customarily served with cocktail snacks. I suggest tiki beef kebabs, redolent of ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. For a real period touch, pick up some tiny Sterno-fueled braziers and serve the sizzling kebabs on them.


Tiki Beef Kebabs

Recipe Notes

  • Advance Prep: 1 to 2 hours for marinating the kebabs
  • Yield: Makes about 36 kebabs
  • Method: Direct grilling
  • Equipment: About 36 long slender (8- to 12-inch) bamboo skewers; heavy-duty aluminum foil


  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 scallion, trimmed, white part coarsely chopped, green part finely chopped
  • 1 piece (½ inch) fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 strips lemon zest (each about 1½ by 1½ inches)
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 2 pounds strip, sirloin, or top round steaks (each about 1 inch thick)

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Place the garlic, scallion white, ginger, lemon zest, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and sherry in a blender and purée until smooth. Or you can make the marinade in a food processor: Place the garlic, scallion white, ginger, lemon zest, and sugar in the processor bowl and process to make a fine paste. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, and sherry and process to mix.

Step 2: Using a very sharp knife, cut each steak on the diagonal into about 36 thin slices (about ⅛ inch thick). Weave each strip of meat like a ribbon onto a skewer. The meat will bunch up as it goes on the skewer; gently spread it out with your fingers.

Step 3: Arrange 12 of the kebabs in a single layer in a nonreactive baking dish. Pour one third of the marinade over the kebabs in the baking dish. Turn the kebabs to coat both sides with the marinade. Arrange 12 more kebabs on top of the first layer, pour half of the remaining marinade over these, and turn this layer to coat evenly. Arrange the remaining kebabs on top of the second layer, pour the remaining marinade over these, and turn to coat evenly. Cover the kebabs with plastic wrap and let them marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

Step 4: Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

Step 5: When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Tear off a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil that is roughly as long as the grill is wide. Fold the piece of aluminum foil in half lengthwise. Place the folded aluminum foil flat on the grate at the edge closest to you. Arrange the kebabs on the grate so that they are over the fire but the exposed ends of the skewers are on the foil shield to keep them from burning. Depending upon the size of the grill, you may need to cook the kebabs in batches. Grill the kebabs until nicely browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side for medium. Transfer the grilled kebabs to a platter and sprinkle the scallion greens over them.

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Steven Raichlen, a national barbecue treasure and author of The Barbecue! Bible, How to Grill, and other books in the Barbecue! Bible series, embarks on a quest to find the soul of American barbecue, from barbecue-belt classics-Lone Star Brisket, Lexington Pulled Pork, K.C. Pepper Rub, Tennessee Mop Sauce-to the grilling genius of backyards, tailgate parties, […]

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