Pork souvlaki with cucumber salad and tzatziki

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1kg pork shoulder or neck, sinew and skin removed and cut into 2.5cm dice
8 skewers, soaked in water for a couple of hours or overnight

60ml lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried mint, plus extra to finish
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground star anise
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 tsp flaked chilli
2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red onion, half roughly chopped (60g net) and half thinly sliced (60g net)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
6 Lebanese cucumbers, cut on an angle into ½ cm slices (600g net)
2 green peppers, cut into thin strips ½ cm thick (370g net)
½ tsp nigella seeds
15g dill, roughly chopped
15g mint, roughly chopped

Yoghurt sauce:
1 courgette, coarsely grated (200g net)
250g Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
60ml lemon juice
50g unsalted butter

Cretan food culture has a crystal-clear gender division that one does not want to mess with: women cook in the kitchen, men cook outdoors, in charge of meat. As a person with dubious macho credentials and a famous kitchen dweller, I was absolutely terrified cooking meat in the sun in the company of a bunch of famous local shepherds. Luckily, the souvlaki tasted good and I managed to win over the sceptics. You can do the same, trust me. Serves four


Soak the skewers over night to stop them from burning.
Place all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well, pour over the pork and leave in the fridge, covered, for 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Skewer the pork whilst heating up your ridged grill plate, making sure to ventilate your kitchen. Ideally you would use a BBQ to grill the pork but a ridged grill plate works well.
Place the skewers in batches on the grill and cook for 5 minutes, turning so that all sides are nicely charred. Transfer to a large baking tray, 30 by 40 centimetres, and finish cooking in the oven for 20 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and tender.
To make the yoghurt sauce, mix the courgettes with ¼ teaspoon of salt and leave to drain for 5 minutes. Gently squeeze out the excess liquid and place in a medium bowl. Stir through the yoghurt, oil, garlic, lemon juice and ¾ of a teaspoon of salt. Place the butter in a small pan and cook on a medium heat until it bubbles, turns a light golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat, set aside for 5 minutes to cool and then stir into the yogurt. Sprinkle a little dried mint on top of the yoghurt and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
To make the salad, place the garlic, chopped onion, oil and vinegar in a pestle and mortar with ¾ teaspoon of salt. Crush to make a paste and set aside. Place the sliced onions in a large bowl with the cucumber, peppers, nigella seeds and the paste. Mix the dill and mint in just before serving, alongside the skewers and yogurt sauce.

Perfect with

  1. Aleppo chilli flakes

    Aleppo chilli flakes

  2. Nigella seeds

    Add bursts of flavour and drama to salads, pastries and grilled food with these little black seeds

    Nigella seeds


{based on 3 reviews}

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  • Recipes Tough pork
    (17/02/2016) I bought very high quality organic, free range pork (maybe that was the problem?), soaked it in water overnight and marinaded it all day. It smelled divine but my husband said it was distastefully tough (I'm a vegetarian so wouldn't know but did notice that the lemon juice had all but cooked it!). Was it the 'lean' meat? I have heard that marinading in lemon juice DOES cook the meat but surely Ottolenghi knows such a thing! Or maybe simply a case of over-cooking? Help!

    REPLY: "The recipe does not call for the pork to soak overnight, only to leave it in the marinade. This could possibly be the cause of the meat to be tough."

  • Recipes Absolutely fabulous
    (30/10/2015) I adore this recipe and have used it as a starter on more than one occasion - I always marinate the pork overnight as i feel it needs it but that cucumber salad! wow .. its a firm favourite of mine now and works amazingly well with this and a chicken skewer recipe i do, i didn't have Nigella seeds so used black onion seeds instead and have to say it made the salad look amazing and taste just as good. Fab recipe you must try it
  • Recipes sublime
    (27/01/2014) this is succulent and fresh, the natural juices of pork are brought to life with the marinade and the salad brings a freshness that it perfect for a summer bbq!