Suya...Nigerian Beef Kabob Have you ever had Suya? Some time ago, I came across a Suya recipe on Tastespotting ... submitted by Kitchen Butterfly. The photo and description really caught my attention...a beef kabob, Nigerian style. Now, I absolutely love to try out new dishes from different countries. It is something that I get excited about...to create a dish from another part of the world right in my own home. Now, I think that's pretty neat! It's just an incredible opportunity to experience different cultures through food....
I find that I am willing to try most things at least once. I say most, because I know that some things I just couldn't. But this dish was different. I knew the minute I saw it that I was going to make it. I loved how the meat was marinated in a mixture of seasoned ground peanuts. It was intriguing to me...and I most definitely wanted to try it! And, so I did:)...
The Suya dish is said to have originated with the nomadic people of northern Nigeria. It later became quite popular in the western region of Africa. In Nigeria, Suya is served as street food...where local vendors prepare the dish to-go, wrapped in newspaper. The meat is slow-cooked over an open fire and served with fresh red onion....sometimes, tomato chunks are added and maybe more chiles. Suya can be made with just ground nuts and a special blend of hot chiles. It can be quite spicy. However, you will find many variations where different spices are used in the dry rub. Each vendor probably has their own "secret" spice mixture. Some common spices can include dry ginger, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika...
Though beef is commonly used, Suya can be made with chicken, goat or fish....and in Nigeria, you might even come across gizzards, tripe, etc. Traditionally, the beef Suya is cut in thin slices that are long and wide. There are other variations where the meat is cut in chunks....probably for ease of preparation. I am sure there is a proper technique in cutting and seasoning the meat...accomplished only by experienced Suya masters. I was content with just trying...
I chose to do my Suya using beef and cutting the meat in strips. My "spice rub" wasn't dry but semi-dry....I added a bit of oil to the spice rub making it more of a spreadable consistency. You can opt to add more oil or leave it out altogether. I originally decided to use only paprika, salt, chile flakes, fresh ginger(that is what I had at the moment) and ground peanuts. Later, I divided the meat in half and added some fresh garlic to half of it... just to see the difference. I liked it with the garlic. The Suya is served with slices of red onion and chunks of tomato...the vegetables add a ton of flavor. For the meat, I used some tri-tip which I cut against the grain. I noticed that the Suya was incredibly tender.... I really enjoyed this dish and am hoping to try a second version:). But do feel free to play around with the seasoning/spices and come up with your own version. This was my adaptation...and I will probably continue to tweak it. But, I did want to introduce you to a pretty neat recipe. Hope you enjoy....
You will need: Please do check Kitchen Butterfly and see the original version. In case you would like to see different versions, click to see Swordfish Suya or Chicken Suya
Meat: Can use beef/chicken/goat/fish
2 lbs -2 1/2 lbs beef ( I used tri-tip), cut thinly against the grain
1 cup peanuts, salted and roasted
Mixed with: any or all~ to taste
1. PAPRIKA~ I used 1 TBS, which is why it's so reddish in color:)...
2. CHILE FLAKES/CAYENNE PEPPER~ I used 2 tsps chile flakes
3. SALT~ I used 2-3 large pinches of kosher salt
4. GINGER, powder or freshly grated~ I used a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
5. GARLIC, powder or freshly grated~ I added some freshly grated garlic( 1 clove) to half of the batch and liked it better with garlic
6. ONION POWDER~ I didn't add
7. LIME JUICE~totally optional, I used juice of 1 lime ( I think the acidity tenderizes the meat as well)
8. OIL~optional~ though I used about 2-3 TBS to combine the rub together and make it more of a spreadable consistency, you could probably add a bit more or skip it altogether.
fresh slices of red onion
chunks of tomato
Cut beef in thin slices...making sure to cut against the grain. You can, likewise, opt for cutting them in chunks...which is easier to do. If doing slices, you might want to freeze your meat until a bit frozen, as it will be easier to cut that way....which is what I did.
Season the beef with some salt. In a food processor, add the peanuts and process till peanuts are finely ground. Add any of the spices you will be using and pulse a few seconds until evenly combined. I added a bit of oil to bring it all together in a paste-like consistency. It is sort of dry, yet it clumps up together with the addition of the oil.
Add the peanut mixture to the beef spreading( smearing) a bit on each slice....this might take a bit, as you want all the pieces to be covered in the peanut marinade. If you are using more oil, it should be easier to coat the meat. It will also be easier if you cut your beef in chunks. My slices were thin, so I needed to make sure I didn't tear the slices from too much handling. You can then let the beef marinate for a few hours...I left mine overnight. Add the sliced beef on soaked wooden skewers or kabob skewers. You will probably have some of the meat hang down on the side. Just make sure you lay it flat on the grill.
Preheat your grill on high. Oil the grill plate and place the beef skewers to cook....you might need to lower the heat to medium. I placed some of my Suya directly on the grill and placed some on a cast iron grill plate with ridges.
I wanted to see the difference. It seemed that the grill plate with ridges didn't dry out the meat as much. The meat does cook rather quickly as it is quite thin.
Serve the suya with fresh slices of red onion and chunks of tomato....
Optional~ chiles and cilantro leaves.