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Kiliç Şiş (Turkey)


A standard feast on the Aegean coast of Turkey, swordfish kabobs can be done with any meaty fish if you don’t have swordfish handy. Tuna would work. So would halibut or mahi mahi, probably.


The key to doing this right is threefold: first, don’t overmarinate. I do this way too often, but the acidity starts to “cook” the fish if you leave it too long. So keep to to 15 minutes tops. I’d use maybe a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil plus the juice of half a lemon, maybe a teaspoon of red pepper flakes - use aleppo peppers if you can get them, and some salt and pepper. Really basic. Slice your swordfish or mani or whatever into biggish chunks, marinate them, and thread them onto a skewer. 


Tip two: alternate the fish on the skewer with aromatics: onion slices, peppers, lemon wedges, and most importantly, rehydrated bay leaves. This is huge. Just soak some bay leaves in warm water for 15 minutes. The flavor boost is intense.

The third tip is to grill over charcoal. I’m a gas guy because I have kids and very little time to set a fire ahead of time, but if you want maximum flavor, you’re going to want to use charcoal. The smoke helps boost the power of those aromatic veggies and bay leaves. Oh, and use an extra skewer for more veggies: tomatoes, onions, peppers.


1.25 lbs swordfish (or similar), cut in 1-inch cubes

24 Turkish bay leaves

2 lemons, cut into 8 wedges each, + 1/2 for juicing

2 red onions, quartered

2 tbs olive oil

1 tsp crushed Aleppo peppers

salt & fresh ground black pepper


  1. Prepare a charcoal grill to high heat.

  2. Mix the final three ingredients plus the juice of the half-lemon. Let the fish marinate for 10-15 minutes.

  3. While the fish is marinating, let the bay leaves sit in warm water for 15 minutes to rehydrate.

  4. Thread fish onto skewers, alternating with bay leaves and onion and lemon wedges.

  5. Cook over high heat until the fish is cooked through and the onion and lemon get a little charred.

  6. Unskewer them over a bed of rice pilaf and enjoy!


Here’s where I adapted this recipe from:


And here’s a recipe for awesome rice pilaf:

Photo by Melanie Acevedo on

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