West African Grilled Beef (Suya)

This is my take on Suya, a grilled beef skewer from West Africa. Sirloin steak is marinated in a quick and easy marinade that is delicious and perfect for grilling.

These highly flavored West African-style skewers started out as a geographically appropriate main dish to pair with a batch of Jollof rice, but quickly turned into my favorite marinade for beef.

How to Make Suya

The detailed suya recipe is below, but here are some chef’s notes:

  . Peanut butter is key: The key to the whole operation is peanut butter, which isn’t the first ingredient when you think of a classic marinade for meat, but it really works here.

  . Perfect caramelization: The first time I tried it, I was a bit skeptical, because I thought peanut butter would burn on a hot grill, and if you’ve ever eaten roasted peanuts, you know it’s not a very pleasant taste. But, somehow it didn’t burn, and instead caramelized and browned beautifully. Yes, I really like how this came out visually, but the taste and texture is even more impressive.

  . The crowd-pleasing taste: I would describe the taste as unusual, but at the same time, familiar and comfortable. As I touch on in the video, this reminds me of some of my favorite foods, from some of my favorite places, and I will be grilling this again soon.

I also want to try a purer method, using peanuts instead of peanut butter. But, in the meantime, I really like this version. I really hope you try it soon. Enjoy!



. 1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter

. 1/2 small yellow onion, grated

. 2 tablespoons of tomato paste

. 1 tablespoon olive oil

. 1 tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt)

. 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

. 1 teaspoon pepper

. 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

. 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

. 2 pounds top sirloin steak cut into 1.5 inch cubes



Step 1

Combine peanut butter, grated onion, tomato paste, olive oil, salt, paprika, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper and ginger powder in a mixing bowl. Stir until combined.


Step 2

Add the steak pieces to the marinade bowl and toss to combine. Cover and leave the marinade in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.


Step 3

Heat an outdoor grill with coals to high heat and a little grated oil.


Step 4

Place marinated steak pieces on large metal skewers.


Step 5

Grill over white hot coals until desired doneness, 5 to 6 minutes per side.


Cook’s Note:
Garnish beef skewers with shallots, lime wedges, green onions, chopped cilantro, and chopped peanuts if desired.

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