Monday, May 8, 2017

Shashlik


Shashlik, or shashlyk, (Russian: шашлык) is a is a dish of shallow meat, usually lamb with a minimum of spices and is an essential street food in most of the countries of the former USSR. There are disputes about where the name shashlik comes from but most likely is that “Shash” in ancient Turkic means “piece”. And ”lik” means ”six”. As a result, shashlik - is six pieces of meat. Shish” in Turkic - means "peak", "bayonet", “lik” - "for" it also could just mean skewered meat. Shashlik (as opposed to other forms of shish Kabob) is usually presented in form of chunks of meat. There are many variants, in the shape, size and choice of meat portions.  The preparation is very important - the temperature of the coals, time marinating, and careful presentation of the meat.  Typically Shashlik is prepared using leg or side of lamb in a quantity that depends on how many people you’ll feed (recommendation use at least 500gm per adult).  Cut up the meat and the fat into bite-sized pieces.  Don’t forget the fat.  It’s delicious. Traditionally the meat and fat are marinated in mineral water (seltzer) add salt, pepper, coriander and chopped onion. It is important to turn the meat around every few hours to make sure it’s evenly marinated. Total marinating time varies but a minimum of 8 hours albeit 24 hours is better. The marinated meat is then strung on skewers (always six pieces) with tomato and/or onion and the last piece usually a piece of lard.
Postal stamp of Tajikistan "Oriental bazaar" displaying an old man grilling shashliks on a mangal
A traditional grill called a mangal (mahn-gahl) is filled with burning coals which are .  Fry it over the hot coals, at first on the one side, then on another side to release the juice and a golden brown colour. For evenly frying the meat wave a hand fan from time to time to increase the heat. If the fat lard runs off and forms a flame, sprinkle coals with water mixed with white vinegar. Cook till it’s done. Before serving, put the shashlik into a lagan (large plate). Garnish with white onion rings. The Shashlik is sometimes also served with vegetables that have been cooked in a similar fashion on separate skewers. Another tradition is to take the finished meat and remove each chunk from its skewer by holding it between pieces of bread. The bread and the meat are put into a large bowl or pot and then covered, shaken and allowed to rest for a few minutes so the flavours and juices from the meat penetrate the bread.