Life / Food

Nish-Kabob recipe the perfect venison fare for Canada Day

Chef David Wolfman takes aboriginal cuisine and gives it a modern twist

This Nish Kabob recipe uses venison and birch syrup and is the perfect Canada Day dish.

Courtesy David Wolfman

This Nish Kabob recipe uses venison and birch syrup and is the perfect Canada Day dish.

A member of the Xaxli’p First Nation in B.C., chef David Wolfman is an internationally recognized expert in wild game and traditional aboriginal cuisine.

He has fond childhood memories of his mother whipping up feasts for visitors. “When people came over, the first thing we’d do is head to the kitchen and she’d go and make food for everyone. Sharing was always important to us.

It’s what I do now, I share knowledge and food. That’s what the elders have taught me,” he says.

For Canada Day, he shares a recipe with Metro using some quintessentially Canadian ingredients: venison (deer meat) and birch syrup. If you can’t procure wild game, beef or pork will suffice.

Need birch syrup? You can order it online at

Wolfman dubs the recipe ‘Nish Kabobs,’ a playful riff on Shish Kabobs. “Nish is a slang term for Anishinaabe,” says Wolfman.

Anishinaabe is an umbrella term used to describe some groups of First Nations in Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec.

Nish Kabobs with Birch/Balsamic Glaze
Makes 4 portions.
• 1/2 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
• 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoon packed brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 tablespoons soya sauce (or tamari, a gluten-free soya sauce)
• 3 tablespoons lime juice
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon birch syrup
• 12 oz venison/deer tenderloin, cut into 1-1/2 inch long strips
• 1 tbsp olive oil


1. Soak eight wooden skewers in warm water for 30 minutes

2. In a stainless steel bowl, mix peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, garlic, Dijon, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, soya sauce, lime juice, salt, and birch syrup; mix well.

3. Divide mixture into two and place half the mixture in a saucepan and simmer on very low heat for 15 minutes, strain and reserve.

4. With the remaining mixture add the venison/deer and turn to coat evenly; let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

5. Drain and discard marinade. Thread deer/venison onto wooden skewers.

6. Slightly brush with olive oil and grill over medium-hot heat or broil 2 minutes per side, turning occasionally and do not over cook.

7. Garnish skewers with the reserved glaze

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