Updated: Jan 7
Today is such an important day in my home country. It's our Independence Day. In 1991, after more than 70 years of the Soviet Union, Ukraine became an independent country. I always think about what would have happened if Ukraine didn't gain independence 29 years ago. In honor of such a special day, I want to share a very special dish with you.
Looking back on my childhood, shashlik was something very special that you ate once or twice a year, usually at an outdoor cookout or gathering. Most of the people in the small town of Bar, where I was born and raised, had small apartments, so if they wanted to cook meat over a fire they had to go to the forest. It was a tradition to go at the beginning of May and celebrate the upcoming summer season. Those celebrations were our "Labour Day" and were called "mayovka" (in Russian that means "in May").
I have so many wonderful memories from mayovka. I still remember after a long winter how wonderful it was to enjoy fresh crispy aromatic veggies, the firesmoke, and, of course, shashlik (meat on skewers). I have to say those skewers were about 1 foot long.
To make the fire, kids would gather dry wood in the forest. Then adults, usually the men, would start the fire while the women prepped side dishes. The star of the meal was shashlik, and where I'm from it was only made from pork tenderloin or pork shoulder. Every year it was a big ordeal to decide who would make the marinade and who would cook it on the fire. I remember hearing so many discussions about it. As a child, it seemed very complicated. While the meat was cooking on the open fire, sometimes the fire would get out of control and start to burn the meat, so the adults would pour alcoholic beverages like beer or wine over the shashlik. Of course this led to another long discussion about whether beer or wine was the best for this.
In 2008, when my now-husband were still dating, we went to experience the outdoor cookout with my family. Here are some pictures from that day.
It was fun to see the surprised eyes David would make when he saw the whole process. He kept asking if there was special equipment needed to dig the hole in the ground and make the shashlik? Then we filled the hole with dry wood and lit the fire. Two hours later we were eating shashlik and fish stew called "Uha."
Today we're going to talk about a much simpler way to make shashlik. Super easy and convenient so you can make it anytime you wish. You can make it any time of year. It's a great weeknight dinner. I love the simplicity of this recipe. Especially now since we're renovating our house; I lost my fire pit and any ability to cook outside. Even though it's a different method than what I grew up with, it will still provide that distinct shashlik flavor.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Inactive time: 2-4 hours
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Total time: 2 hours and 30 minutes - 4 hours and 30 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Served: 6-8 people
3 pounds of pork tenderloin meat
2 large onions
1 bunch of parsley
⅓ cup sunflower oil
1½ teaspoons pink salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds (optional)
You can use pork, beef, or lamb. Try to cut the pieces as evenly as possible so the cooking time will be the same.
I used sunflower oil because that's the oil people in Ukraine use most of the time.
You can use any kind of onion in this recipe. The onion provides great flavor and tenderizes the meat.
1. Soak your skewers in warm water for 30 minutes if you are using wooden skewers.
2. Wash the meat and use paper towels to dry it. Cut the meat into 1½-2 inch pieces and put in a pot.
3. Cut one onion and add it to the food processor along with chopped parsley. Pulse a few times.
4. Pour the onion and parsley mixture over the meat.
5. Slice the other onion into 1½-2-inch pieces (like the meat) and add to the meat.
6. Add the oil, salt, pepper, and coriander. Pour the oil over the top.
7. Mix everything well with your hands.
8. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
9. After the meat is done marinating and has changed colors, slide each piece of meat on a skewer, along with the onions, and place on a hot griddle. You can do this indoors or outdoors. Whichever works for you. Just let it cook at least 5 minutes before turning the meat.
10. Make sure each piece is cooked evenly and has a nice, seared color.
11. Let the meat cool down before slicing to seal all the juices in.
12. Serve with aioli and vodka and call it a Russian/Ukrainian feast!
The longer the meat marinates the better flavor will be. I sometimes leave it for 10-12 hours.