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A summer barbecue is incomplete without some kind of skewer on the picnic table. But why wait for warm weather to serve dinner on a stick? This recipe for beef suya from Yewande Komolafe’s new cookbook, My Everyday Lagos, is the perfect excuse to grill in the off-season.
Suya is “a popular Nigerian street food made of thin strips of meat that are skewered, seasoned and grilled,” writes Komolafe. Its flavor comes from yagi, which refers to a wide range of spice blends often used in northern Nigeria for meat seasoning and preservation. Earthy and complex, yaji stars roasted peanut powder.
To thinly slice the beef (Komolafe recommends using well-marbled boneless short rib), freeze it until it just begins to firm up around the edges, about 30 minutes, and cut it using a sharp knife. As for the spice blend, you’ll have plenty of leftovers. Use it to season beef jerky, any sort of kebab, stews, roasted squash or baked sweet potatoes.
Reprinted with permission from My Everyday Lagos by Yewande Komolafe copyright © 2023. Photographs by Kelly Marshall. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Ground Yaji Spice Blend
¼ cup dry roasted, peeled peanuts
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound boneless short ribs, thinly sliced lengthwise into ⅛-inch strips
¼ cup peanut oil, plus more for grilling
2 tablespoons ground yaji spice blend, plus more for garnish
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
1. Make the Ground Yaji Spice Blend: Chop the peanuts in a food processor or work in batches using a spice grinder. Pulse them just enough to grind them into a coarse powder.
2. Transfer the peanut powder to a small bowl and add the salt, ginger, cayenne and garlic powder. Stir to incorporate.
3. Transfer the spice blend to an airtight container, cover and store at room temperature.
4. Make the Beef Suya: Lay several strips of meat side by side and flat on a piece of plastic wrap and top with another piece of plastic wrap. Pound the meat strips to flatten them to ⅛ inch thick. Set aside and repeat with remaining meat.
5. In a medium bowl, combine the peanut oil and yaji spice blend with the ginger and garlic. Add the beef, toss to coat and season with the salt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the beef to marinate, refrigerated, for 4 to 12 hours.
6. Preheat a cleaned gas grill or grill plate over medium-high heat. Wipe the grill clean and brush it with an oiled towel to create a nonstick layer.
7. Skewer the beef pieces in an even layer on individual wooden skewers, wiping of any excess marinade. Brush the meat generously with more oil and set the skewers on a baking sheet.
8. Working in batches, grill the beef skewers until the meat is cooked through and lightly charred on both sides, 6 to 7 minutes per side. Transfer the skewers to a platter and sprinkle with more yaji spice blend. Repeat until all the beef is grilled.
9. Serve the suya warm, topped with red onion and alongside additional yaji spice for dipping.