Note: Chinese five-spice powder is available at many grocery spice sections or at specialty shops. Kebab ingredients don't need to be limited to the vegetables listed below. Customize them with cherry tomatoes, broccoli (precooked until crisp-tender), pineapple chunks (fresh or canned), yellow summer squash, red onion wedges, baby carrots (precooked until crisp-tender) or halved tiny new potatoes (precooked until tender) . From Stephanie Izard, chef of Girl & the Goat in Chicago.
• 1 lb. pork loin roast, boneless or pork tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-in. cubes
• 1/4 c. soy sauce, reduced-sodium
• 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
•1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
• 1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard, or 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder (see Note)
• 1 small red or orange bell pepper, cut into 1-in. squares
• 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms or white mushroom caps, halved, if needed
• 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 3/4-in. pieces
• 1/4 c. pepper jelly or orange marmalade, melted
• 8 skewers
In a self-sealing plastic bag, combine cubed pork, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and mustard (or Chinese five-spice). Seal bag and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
Prepare medium-hot fire with charcoal or preheat gas to medium high.
Remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade. Thread pork, sweet peppers, mushrooms and zucchini alternately onto 8 skewers. (Leave a little space between each ingredient when threading them onto the skewers to assure even cooking.) Brush or drizzle with reserved marinade.
Grill kebabs directly over fire, turning to brown evenly, for 5 minutes. Brush kebabs with the melted jelly. Continue to grill for 3 to 10 minutes more, or until tender. (Cook to 145 degrees and let rest for 3 minutes before serving.) Serve atop rice or couscous.
Variation: If using orange marmalade, add a kick of heat by stirring in a pinch of cayenne.
No grill? Broil kebabs on a preheated broiler pan 3 to 5 inches from heat source.