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Barbecue Secrets

Recipes of the Week: Beef Kebabs and Calgary-Style Ginger Beef on the Grill

May 30, 2014

Beef Kebabs

Makes 4 main course servings or 8 appetizers

Most beef kebab recipes, including this one, call for leaner cuts like sirloin. Those work well, but they are quite chewy and can turn to rubber if overcooked. For truly decadent kebabs, try well-marbled rib roast or tender chunks of fillet. Whatever meat you choose, just remember to cook it gently and don’t overdo it!

8 long metal skewers or 12 presoaked bamboo skewers

To marinate the meat:

2 Tbsp | 25 mL dried mushrooms (any

kind will do, but some can be expensive)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground ancho chile

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cinnamon

1 tsp | 5 mL coarsely ground black


1 chipotle in adobo sauce,

seeds removed and finely chopped

1 tsp | 5 mL adobo sauce

1 Tbsp | 15 mL liquid honey

1/2 cup | 125 mL neutral-flavored

vegetable oil like canola or corn oil

2 lb | 1 kg top sirloin


To make the kebabs:

2 Tbsp | 25 mL vegetable oil

1 Tbsp | 15 mL lime juice

2 red bell peppers, cut into chunks

2 yellow bell peppers, cut into chunks

1 medium purple onion, cut into

quarters and separated into pieces

24 small button mushrooms

(or 12 big ones cut in half)

kosher salt and freshly ground black

pepper to taste

Grind the mushrooms to a powder in a spice mill or coffee grinder. Thoroughly mix the mushrooms, chile, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, chipotle, adobo sauce, honey, and oil in a non-reactive bowl. Cut the beef into bite-sized cubes and add it to the marinade, tossing it well to coat it. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and as long as overnight.

Make a basting liquid by combining the oil and lime juice. Prepare your grill for medium direct heat. Thread the beef cubes on 8 long metal skewers or 12 presoaked bamboo skewers, alternating them with chunks of bell pepper, onion, and mushroom. Grill the kebabs 3–4 minutes per side, basting them with the oil/lime juice mixture, until the beef is just done. Remove them from the grill, season them with salt and pepper, and serve.

Calgary-Style Ginger Beef on the Grill

Makes 6–8 servings

In Calgary, Alberta, most Chinese restaurants serve a special version of Ginger Beef that features strips of beef that are lightly battered, deep fried, and then candied with a sweet, sticky, tangy sauce that has lots of heat from crushed chiles and powdered ginger.  This crunchy, chewy dish has become so associated with Calgary that on some menus in other Canadian cities it shows up as Calgary-style Ginger Beef.  For me, it’s a true comfort food, and I was inspired by fond memories of the dish to create this tasty grilled tri-tip. Serve it with some steamed rice and stir-fried veggies with Teriyaki sauce (see recipe below).

NOTE: It can be hard to find tri-tip in Canada, although it’s a super-popular cut in the U.S., especially in California. If you can’t find it, substitute a top sirloin roast but be sure not to overcook it!

1 3 lb | 1.5 kg well-marbled tri-tip (bottom sirloin) roast

For the rub:

2 Tbsp | 30 mL sugar

1 Tbsp | 15 mL powdered ginger

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

1 tsp | 5 mL ground cumin

1 tsp | 5 mL paprika

1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp | 2 mL Chinese five spice powder

½ tsp | 2 mL cayenne pepper


For the finishing glaze:

one 12 oz | 355 mL jar sweet orange marmalade

3 Tbsp | 45 mL frozen orange juice concentrate

¼ cup | 60 mL soy sauce

½ cup | 125 mL apple cider vinegar

1 clove finely minced garlic

2 tsp | 10 mL grated fresh ginger

1 tsp | 5 mL crushed dried red chile flakes

Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl and set the mixture aside.

Put the finishing glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring it occasionally. Set it aside to cool.

Generously sprinkle the tri-tip with the rub (you will have some left over). Let it sit for half an hour or so, until the roast starts to glisten.

Prepare the grill for medium indirect cooking. Grill the roast for 1 hour on the unheated side of the grill. Turn it once or twice. When the roast is nearly done (it starts to feel springy to the touch, or the temperature at the thickest part reaches about 130˚F | 54˚C for medium rare), move it to the hot side of the grill, turn up the heat to high, and paint it generously with the glaze, turning and coating it until the glaze is sticky and caramelized (be careful not to burn it).

Remove the roast from the grill, tent it in foil, and let it rest for at least half an hour. Slice it across the grain as thinly as you can and serve it with a drizzle of the remaining glaze.

Complicated but Delicious Teriyaki Sauce

Makes about 8 cups | 2 L

This homemade teriyaki sauce, which I have slightly adapted from an old recipe by famed Vancouver chef Trevor Hooper, has dimensions of flavor that make the extra work more than worthwhile. It stores for several months in the fridge, and it’s great as a marinade for meat or seafood, as a sauce for stir-fries, or just drizzled on steamed rice.

11/2 cups | 375 mL sake

11/2 cups | 375 mL mirin

2 cups | 500 mL brown sugar

4 cups | 1 L Japanese soy sauce

1/2 cup | 125 mL tamari soy sauce

1 small onion, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 2-inch | 5 cm piece fresh ginger, chopped

1 orange, chopped, skin on

1 small pear, chopped

1 small leek, split, washed thoroughly and chopped

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a low boil. Cook it until it’s reduced by about 20 percent. Cool it, strain it into a large jar or bottle, and refrigerate it. It stores indefinitely in the refrigerator.