Meals Sides

Thai skewer showdown (and Thai cucumber salad)


There was a concern about too much sugar, a concern about spiciness, and a bigger concern about having never made Thai skewers before that led to the showdown. We (meaning my sister Claudia, Tom and I ) decided to grill up some Thai skewers to go with our Thai peanut noodles for our dinner night at the upcoming Marieb family reunion.    I had found a bunch of skewer recipes online, but none were tested. So…showdown! There were three main recipes (all basically marinades) in the running, a predictable soy/lime/ginger/curry one, an interesting cilantro/peppercorn/garlic paste one, and an orange/honey one, which frankly sounded more like Chinese to me than Thai, but yummy all the same.

I should have known the skewers were heading for the big fail when I simply couldn’t make the orange/honey recipe since I forgot to buy oranges. Not realizing the disaster to come, I hummed as I made the marinades for the other two. I let the meat marinate for a couple hours but, at showdown time, a downpour left us grill-less. Sign #2, perhaps? Refusing defeat, into the oven they went. NEVER DO THIS. I mean the point of skewers is a vehicle for grilling, right? And though I corroborated different websites’ stories saying to cook them for 30 minutes at 375 degrees, this left us with super dry, overcooked meat. The beef took on this awful chalky texture I’d like to forget forever. It was weirdly disturbing and definitely inedible. And, the two bites of the beef I managed to choke down left me disappointed in the cilantro/peppercorn/garlic-style marinade.

On the bright side, the soy/lime/ginger/curry one was a winner. So much so that it almost made up for the super-dry chicken. I’ll definitely be making that one again post-reunion (on the grill!). And, the Thai cucumber salad I made to go with it was really yummy too! So, it wasn’t all a total fail, but no more grilling in the oven for this girl.

Thai marinated grilled chicken skewers
Serves 2
  1. 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
  2. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  3. 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  4. Juice from one lime
  5. 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  6. 1 Tbs. curry powder
  7. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  9. 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  10. skewers
  1. 1. If using bamboo or wood skewers, place in cold water and let soak.
  2. 2. In a shallow bowl or gallon zip lock bag, mix all the marinade ingredients together (soy sauce through cardamom). Add chicken and mix to coat. Seal and place in refrigerator for at least an hour or as long as overnight.
  3. 3. Spray a grill rack with non-stick cooking spray and set the heat to high. Thread meat onto the skewers and cook for 8-10 minutes, brushing with extra marinade and turning halfway through.
Adapted from The Splendid Table
Thai cucumber salad
Serves 4
  1. 2 large cucumbers, diced
  2. 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  3. 1 green or red jalepeno chili, seeded and diced
  4. 1 Tbs. cilantro, chopped
  5. 1 1/2 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
  6. 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
  1. 1. Set cucumbers in a colander and let drain for 1/2 - 1 hour (not totally necessary if you don't want to wait).
  2. 2. Prepare the rest of the ingredients and mix all in a large bowl. Let sit for an hour before serving.
Adapted from Trans-Planted
Adapted from Trans-Planted