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Test Kitchen Tip

Skewer Questions, Answered

Charbroiling food on a stick may well be the oldest grilling innovation, but it does require some skill for best results. Below are a few reader-submitted questions regarding skewer success, and our replies.

  1. So what is better, bamboo or metal skewers? Both do the same job; it’s more a matter of preference. Metal ones are good because they can be reused and are easy to clean and sturdy. Bamboo skewers are inexpensive and readily available, but buy ones that are 1/8-inch in diameter as they are better able to withstand the heat.

  2. Do I need to soak bamboo skewers? Yes, it’s a good idea. If they aren’t saturated, the skewers will go up in flames within a few minutes on the grill. To do this, arrange them on a baking sheet in a shallow amount of water. Let them soak for at least half an hour before using. You can also freeze them for use at a later time.

  3. How do I keep them from burning? Place a strip of foil on the grill to shield the ends of the skewers from the flames. They may still scorch, but aren’t as likely to incinerate. Again, buy thicker skewers: they won’t ignite as quickly.

  4. How do I keep scallops from spinning on the skewer? This is a common problem. Some foods, such as scallops, shrimp, and vegetables, release moisture when cooked, which causes them to loosen and spin on the skewer when turned. The solution is to double skewer the food: run one skewer through, then run a second skewer through alongside and parallel to the first skewer. The second skewer prevents spinning but also makes the kebab sturdier and easier to move.

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