By Bill Dwyer
Souvlaki is a traditional Greek dish that has been around since ancient times. It is mentioned in the works of the earliest Greek writers, and probably goes back to prehistoric times. Modern-day Greek immigrants have introduced Greek cuisine all over the world, and souvlaki has become a popular favorite beyond Greek communities.
The word souvlaki means ”little skewer”, which is an apt description of the cooking method employed in this dish. Souvlaki consists of small pieces of marinated meat, and sometimes vegetables, grilled on skewers. The meat most commonly used is pork, but other meats are sometimes used instead- Onions and bell peppers are the usual vegetables that are used when including vegetables on the skewers. Souvlaki grilled with vegetables is served on a bed of rice. Souvlaki grilled without vegetables is usually served in pita bred pockets, garnished with fresh vegetables such as sliced green onions, diced tomatoes shredded lettuce. Tzatziki, a yogurt-and cucumber condiment, is usually served with either version of the dish.
Recipes for both pork suvlaki and tzatziki follow.
- 4 or 5 10-inch wooden skewers, soaked for ½ hour
- 1 pork tenderloin (lomito de cerdo), +/- 500 gms, cut in 1-inch cubes
- ½ large onion, cut in 1-inch pieces
- ½ to ⅔ bell pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
- juice of ½ lemon or lime
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 1 or 2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ cup minced fresh culantro or parsley, for garnish
- Skewer the pieces of pork, alternating with veggies. Place them in a large sealable plastic freezer bag, being careful not to pierce the bag.
- For the marinade, combine lemon or lime juice, olive oil, soy sauce, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl and stir. Pour the marinade mixture into the bag with the skewers and seal the bag. Marinate for 2 to 3 hours in the refrigerator, turning it over occasionally.
- Cook on a grill over low to medium heat. You can use a gas grill or a barbecue with glowing, but not flaming charcoal. A toaster-oven wide enough to accommodate the skewers can also be used. Turn the skewers periodically to cook evenly on all sides. Remove from heat when the meat has reached your desired degree of doneness.
- Serve on a bed of rice and garnish with culantro or parsley.
- 1 cup yogurt, strained
- I cucumber, seeds removed, grated and strained
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 clove minced or pressed garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon or lime juice, or vinegar
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Stir and refrigerate until serving time.
- Place a spoon in the bowl, so that each diner can top their sovlaki with the amount of tzatziki they choose.