Pork Kebabs and Smashed Cucumber Salad

Spicy Grilled Pork with Fennel, Cumin and Red Onion, just the name gets my juices flowing. Imbued with spices that char at high heat, this aromatic pork recipe is a snap to throw together — exactly what you want for a night of summer grilling.

If using wooden skewers, don’t forget to soak them in water for an hour before grilling, so they don’t flare up. And, NYTimes where we got the recipe, suggested if you’re broiling and you don’t want to bother with skewers at all, just spread the pork cubes out on a rimmed sheet pan, turning them halfway through cooking with tongs or a spatula. Always good to have a Plan B for inclement weather.

With just the two of us, we halved the recipe so there wouldn’t be much leftover—and there wasn’t because it was sooo good!

Our side dish of Smashed Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, Scallions and Cilantro was just the ticket to compliment the pork and make for a low-carb dinner. The lime and heat in both recipes ensured a unity of tastes. I see making this by itself as a lunch, and would be great to bring to a picnic, potluck or dinner invitation.

While I basically stuck to the pork kebab recipe, I made a few changes in how I handled the cuke salad from Milk Street. Besides cutting the recipe in half, I left the salted cucumber slices in the colander for an hour as opposed to 15 minutes to make sure most of the moisture would be removed. And instead of several cans on the inside plate while draining the slices, I added weight by filling a smaller heavy bowl with water.

A meat mallet came in handy for both smashing the cucumbers and the roasted peanuts, but you may have another preference.

Spicy Grilled Pork with Fennel, Cumin and Red Onion

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 ¾ pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  •  Kosher salt
  • 1 lime, plus some wedges for serving
  • ¼ cup cilantro or basil, leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 jalapeño or other green chile, seeded if desired
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 small red onion, sliced, for serving


  1. Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag.
  2. Juice the lime into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeño and honey. Blend until the jalapeño and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
  3. Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you heat the grill, or up to 24 hours. (We marinated for 24 hours to make sure all of that great flavor permeated the pork.)
  4. When ready to cook, heat the grill or broiler with a rack positioned 4 inches from the heat source.
  5. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill over the highest heat possible, or broil on high, for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. It should be just cooked through: A little pink is OK, but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
  6. Serve the pork with cilantro sprigs and onion slices on top, and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.
Low-carb dinner bursting with flavor!


Adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark from NYTimes

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, Scallions and Cilantro

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, Scallions and Cilantro

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Don’t use regular cucumbers; they contain a large amount of seeds that will quickly water down the salad, even if first salted to remove excess moisture. And don’t forget to peel the cucumbers. The skins will block the salt from drawing out the maximum amount liquid of from the watery flesh.


  • 2 Medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1½ tsp. sriracha
  • ½ tsp. white sugar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 English cucumbers, trimmed and peeled
  • ½ Cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
  • 4 Scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Serrano chili, stemmed, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
  • ½ Cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, ginger, lime juice, Sriracha, sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside. Place the cucumbers on a cutting board. With the flat side of a chef’s knife or a rolling pin, hit the cucumbers until they split and crack. I used a meat mallet which worked great!
  2. Slice the cucumbers ½-inch thick on the diagonal and transfer to a large colander set over a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons salt and toss. Top with a plate smaller than the diameter of the colander; weigh down the plate with 2 or 3 cans. Let stand until liquid has pooled in the bowl, about 15 minutes. Discard the liquid, then rinse and dry the bowl.
  3. In the same large bowl, combine the cucumbers, peanuts, scallions, chili and cilantro. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.


Recipe by Julia Rackow from Milk Street

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s