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Mojo-Marinated Salmon Kebabs on Sugarcane

from Steven Raichlen

Method: direct grilling

Serves: 4 to 6 as an appetizer or 4 as a light main course

1/2 cup olive oil
8 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced crosswise
1 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1-1/2 teaspoons coarse (kosher or sea) salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh cilantro or mint, chopped
1-1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillets or steaks, pin bones removed
2 large sweet onions, cut into 1/2 inch slices, each slice impaled on a bamboo skewer or toothpick
1 large navel orange, peeled, the membrane removed, and sectioned

You'll also need:
1 baton of fresh sugarcane, available at some markets or through www.melissas.com (or bamboo skewers, soaked for 1 hour and drained)

  1. Prepare the mojo: Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cumin and cook until the garlic is fragrant and a pale golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Do not let the garlic brown too much, or it will become bitter. Stir in the lime and orange juices, salt, pepper, and oregano, and 1/3 cup water. (Stand back. The sauce may sputter when you add the water.) Bring the sauce to a rolling boil. Taste for seasoning, adding salt or cumin as necessary. Let cool to room temperature, then stir in the cilantro.

  2. Trim the dry ends off the sugarcane baton and cut into 6-inch sections using a heavy cleaver or sharp chef's knife. Stand one of the sections on end. Cut downward to remove the tough outer skin. Then cut the cane into flat 1/4-inch thick strips. (The lengthwise cuts are much easier than the crosswise cuts because of the fibrous nature of the cane.) Lay the strips flat on your cutting board, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch wide skewers. Finally, make a sharp diagonal cut on the end of each skewer so the point will pierce the salmon more easily.

  3. Cut the salmon into 1-1/2 inch chunks; try to keep them as uniform as possible. Arrange them in one layer in a nonreactive baking dish just large enough to hold them. Pour half the mojo over the salmon and let marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 1 hour, turning the salmon chunks over so all sides marinate. Refrigerate the remaining mojo to serve as a sauce when the kebabs are cooked.

  4. Thread the salmon chunks on the skewers.

  5. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

  6. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Remove the salmon kebabs from the baking dish, reserving any remaining marinade. Brush the marinade on the skewered onion slices. Arrange the kebabs and onion slices on the hot grate. Grill, turning with tongs, until the salmon kebabs and the onions are nicely browned and the fish is cooked, 4 to 6 minutes per side, basting with the marinade until the last 3 minutes of cooking time.

  7. Transfer the onions to a plate or platter, top with the salmon kebabs, and spoon the reserved mojo over them. (Discard any mojo used as a baste when the kebabs were grilling.) Garnish with the orange sections and serve at once.

* Created by Steven Raichlen at Barbecue University.



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