Suya Kebabs
Chef JJ Johnson is making delicious kebabs with homemade West African peanut sauce.

Ingredients for Kebabs

  • 2 bird’s-eye chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • juice and finely grated zest of 4 limes
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound flank or sirloin steak, sliced against the grain into 1/4-inch-thick strips
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Ingredients for West African Peanut Sauce (Makes 4 Cups)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped carrots (1 medium carrot)
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup finely diced celery (1 rib)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 bird’s-eye chile, seeded and minced (1 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup unsweetened, creamy peanut butter
  • 4 cups vegetable stock

Directions for Kebabs

PREP TIME 3 hours 15 minutes (including marinade time)
COOKING TIME 6 to 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME 3 hours 25 minutes

1. Whisk together the chiles, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika lime juice and zest, and oil in a medium bowl until completely combined.

2. Using your hands, coat the beef in the marinade, making sure each piece is thoroughly covered. Place in a nonreactive container, cover, and put in the refrigerator to marinate for around 3 hours. Soak bamboo skewers in water to cover for 1 hour.

3. Remove the meat from the marinade and thread the beef strips onto each skewer accordion style, making sure the meat is not bunched up.

4. Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat a cast-iron grill pan over high heat.

Directions for Peanut Sauce

PREP TIME 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME 1 hour 15 minutes

1. Heat the oil in a 4 quart pot over medium heat, add the cumin, and fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly. The cumin will become very aromatic and a few shades darker.

2/ Add the onion, carrots, tomato, celery, garlic, bay leaf, cilantro, chile, salt, and lemon juice, stirring to coat the vegetables in the toasted cumin oil. Sauté until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Once the tomato paste is incorporated, add the peanut butter, working it into the vegetables with a little stock, if needed. Cook until the oil separates from the peanut butter, about 5 minutes.
Add the stock and stir, making sure to bring up all of the tomato paste and peanut butter from the bottom of the pot so it is well blended. Increase the heat to medium high to bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook, stirring, for 45 minutes.

4. Remove the bay leaf. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce in the pot until smooth. Season with salt to taste.

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