In the summer I grill more than half the week, weather permitting. Most of what hits the grill are burgers, pork tenderloins (so cheap for such a great cut of pork), chicken breasts and thighs, and lamb steaks when the price is right. This summer we took a trip to Russia (no, not the grass diving championship) and as always I brought back a lot of spice mixes for shashlik, or meat grilled on skewers.
It doesn’t matter if you call it shashlik, shish kebab, yakitori, or souvlaki, it’s all just chunks of meat on a skewer cooked over fire. Russian shashlik is meat, typically pork, lamb/mutton, or beef, which is marinated in an acid liquid, typically based on vinegar along with onion, garlic, bay leaf and pepper, before grilling over fire. The acidity of the marinade helps break down the collagen that connect the muscle fibers, leading to a tenderer meat. The following is the version I typically make.
- 1 kilo boneless pork tarja, cubed ~3cm. Remove large chunks of fat; it will just melt and scorch the meat when grilling. (You can also use tenderloin but then don’t marinate longer than 3 hrs.)
- Marinade (adjust to taste – you just need enough to cover the meat)
- 1 medium yellow onion roughly chopped
- 4-6 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp Thyme
- Couple of twists of fresh black pepper
- Olive Oil
- Vinegar (White vinegar -10%, red/white wine vinegar, balsamic, or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 big squeeze of mayo (optional)
- Splash of soy sauce
- 1-2 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
Seasoning – Combine
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- 1/4 tsp dried mustard
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
Vegetables for grilling
- Red or yellow onion – cut and segmented into large enough pieces to go onto skewer
- Peppers (I prefer red bell) – Cut into pieces
- Cherry tomatoes
- Measurements of the oil and vinegar are not so important, you’ll need about 50/50 oil to vinegar with a couple of tsp of soy sauce; you’ll need enough to cover the meat. Mix them together well. Combine everything in a non-metallic bowl and refrigerate at least 4 hours up to 2 days.
- Remove from marinade and pat dry. Sprinkle with the seasoning spice.
- Start grill. If it’s not clean because you were lazy from last shashlik party, scrape off the crusties.
- Clean mushrooms and microwave until soft. If you try to skewer a raw mushroom it will split.
- Prepare skewers starting with piece of onion then meat, pepper, meat, mushroom, meat, onion …. actually, I don’t care but I think you get the idea.
- Start roasting over medium low fire rotating every 5 minutes or so. If you get flare-ups move meat away from direct flame. Cook until meat looks done; it will be firm to the touch or 62C.
Serve with some flat bread with condiments of your choice. We had it with tzatziki, black olives, cherry tomatoes, pickled red onion, and lettuce. Maybe this sounds more like souvlaki but guess what?….it’s all the same thing!
приятного аппетита – (priyatnovo appetita)
καλή όρεξη – (kalí órexi)