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Easy Shashlik/Shashlyk

Shashlik is a variety of skewered meat commonly eaten Russian and most other former Soviet states. It is traditionally prepared on a “mangal,” a box like fire pit, using charcoal or wood.  The meat is usually beef, pork, or lamb and is marinated in acidic marinade overnight. These would be commonly prepared by street vendors or for parties and picnics.

This particular recipe is Uzbek in origin and is very simple in comparison to some other recipes. As with all the different “bbq” recipes in the US, there are a million and one ways of preparing shashlik and many people take pride in their particular methods.

When preparing this batch we used 7lbs of pork shoulder and 4 onions for about 5-6 people. The general rule of thumb is for 4lb of meat you need 0.5lb of onion.

Cut the pork into 1-1.5” cubes. Cut off any loose fat. You need fat on the meat for cooking, but loose chunks will only cause flare ups when they drip into the fire.

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Clean four onions and use a food processor or knife to mince 3.5 of the onions.

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Add 1 tsp salt, favorite meat seasoning (we used Georgian seasoning mix),  0.5-1 tsp ground red pepper, 1 tsp sweet paprika, squeeze 0.25 of lemon, and 2 tbs vegetable oil

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Mix all the ingredients by hand working the spices into the meat. Once uniformly mixed, pound down the meat.  You want the meat marinating in the juices that form.

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Let the meat marinade in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

To make shashlik, the meat needs to be rotated while on the grill or mangal. Therefore, you will need skewers that are flat or you will need you use two round skewers per shashlik.

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Skewer the meat cubes onto the skewers separating by small pieces of the half onion you have left. Clean off any excess marinade chunks you have left, they will only burn when cooking.

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We used a charcoal grill to preparing these. Shashlik is generally prepared on high heat in open flame. A trick for checking whether the fire is hot enough to place your hand directly over the fire where the shashlik will sit, you should only be able to handle the heat for 2-3 seconds.

Arrange all the skewers parallel to each other.

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Cooking may take 30-40 minutes depending on your flame. Rotate the skewers frequently to make sure the meat is cooked evenly.

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How well these turn out is entirely up to the skill of the chef. Serve hot and enjoy!

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17 Comments

  1. Oleg Vishnevetski says:

    This shashlik looks VERY appetizing.
    The only correction:

    You wrote: “for 4lb of meat you need 0.5lb of pork.” I assume you meant to say “… 0.5lb of ONION”

  2. sputniktomorrow says:

    Fixed, thanks!

  3. Susana Blackwell says:

    I grew up in a partly Russian Molokan family where this dish was considered holiday food in the summer. It was NEVER made of pork, since Molokani abstained from the meat. Always lamb. Always with lots of lemon, onion, salt, pepper. Marinated for hours and skewered on thick metal ones. It is unfortunate that the recipe went to the graves of the relatives that fixed it.

  4. sputniktomorrow says:

    Shashlik is not much different from most other shish kebab recipes, the main difference being that the meat is marinaded in a very acidic solution (it starts cooking the meat).

    Whether you make it with Pork, Lab, Beef is really a personal preference.

  5. From Estonia says:

    This is common party food in Estonia. Most often it is made from lamb day befor Midsummerday. Also it is made on birthdays. Different families maks it different. My family uses vinegar to soften the meat an add flavour. Important ingredients are also dill, garlic and mustard.

  6. riko says:

    say that it is Georgian before being Russian… and do not compare with shish kebab PLZZZ

  7. sputniktomorrow says:

    Well this particular recipe, as I pointed out in the post, is Uzbek. As in, it’s how my Uzbek friend prepares it. Shashlik is definitely not Russian in origin, but is quite popular there.

    As for particulars of a recipe… what makes shashlik shashlik is that the meat is marinated for a long time before skewered and cooked, beyond that it’s up to you whoever is making it.

  8. Maria says:

    Thank you for this! I’m off at college and after spending many nights cramped in the library and eating horrendous foods I got really homesick and this was the first thing that I could think of that made my mouth water. The weather has been bad but as soon as it’s sunny again I’m going to try to make shashlik on my own.

    Who cares about the origin?! The meat is unlike anything you have ever tasted and sure as hell beats “American grilling” of processed hot dogs and mystery beef.

  9. Trevor says:

    Can you marinate for longer? Im thinking a few days?

    Looks very nice and i will try it this weekend!!

  10. sputniktomorrow says:

    I don’t see why not. Quick search on the web says you can keep pork marinading in the fridge for up to a few days without a problem. Good luck!

  11. Johnnrooskie says:

    I too grew up in a Molokan family and we always made it with lamb. The recipe I recall, called for garlic, lemon, white onion, salt, and pepper. There was one other ingredient that people seemed to either hate or love and that was worchestershire sauce. I loved it. If you live in the Los Angeles area, my cousin Bill has a butcher shop in Whittier called Greg and Jim’s and they make a killer pre-marinated lamb and chicken shash. All you gotta do is string it and bbq it! I’ll be making a whole shoulder this weekend for mother’s day!

  12. SashaSobaka says:

    There is a Molokan community in Los Angeles, and they have a book of recipes.
    Quite a few years since publication, but still great information.
    Shashlik recipe is in the book.

  13. Emmanuel says:

    I like Russian food I wish to marry a Russian girl to prepare good food for me.

  14. Sashkin says:

    Looking forward to make a killer shashlyk this weekend for my friends…..Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach boardwalk joints have the best shashlyks in New York City…don’t miss them if you are in town…

  15. Z says:

    ??????? ?? ?????????? ?? ??????????. I got to watch/film slaughter, they made me marinate the meat. Thanks to this recipe… I’m sure you know it went over well :))))

  16. Z says:

    What??? No Cyrillic on a Russian website? Hah… Well, no red pepper in mugalzhar. No yogurt either. Used some drink called Tan (fermented camel milk I think) and followed the recipe as best I could, multiplying it all by 5 for the ram we slaughtered. Dang, it was sooo tasty!!! Thank you!

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