Shashlik (Russian Lamb Kebabs) and Getting Older
I woke up with a cold this morning, but surprisingly didn’t feel grumpy about it. I think it’s because I still have lingering euphoria from last nights dinner. I was reflecting on how far my tastes have come. As a teenager I ate whatever my parents put in front of me. Or, when we ate out (which was often) I just ordered whatever I wanted. In my early 20’s it was all about survival. Money was ridiculously tight so it was fast-food dollar menus for me. Forget about cooking, the closest thing I did to cooking was boil some cups of ramen. Now, having just hit my early 30’s my palate is completely different (Thank God).
Take last nights dinner. Team Empire (a DOTA 2 Russian team) was the next team on my schedule to cook/write a dish about. Now I’ll admit… I know stereotypical things about Russia, but I wanted to dive deeper. I wanted to learn about Russian cuisine beyond vodka and borscht. It turns out, there is so much to learn! Did you know that similar to the Philippines, Russians also cure their food with vinegar? I didn’t know that either, that is, until I made these Shashlik. These kebabs are a popular, common food during summertime and are often eaten with a simple salad on the side. But here’s the kicker: the marinade is nearly identical to adobo marinade! I know…. I was shocked too! The only difference is in adobo you add soy sauce, and in shashlik you do not.
So needless to say, as I combined garlic, onions, vinegar, bay leaves, oregano, pepper, etc. in a large zip locked bag and tossed in chunks of lamb I stood for a long minute, (okay, maybe 2 minutes), and just appreciated the scent of it all. “Wow…” I thought to myself silently, “my taste buds have really changed”. I went from thinking that a Big Mac (from McDonald’s) tasted “amazing” to now thinking that kebab marinade is next to Godly food. Aging certainly has its perks.
And now, onto Team Empire!
Team Empire’s current roster was formed on March 25, 2016. The team currently has Ramzes666, Scandal, Afterlife, Miposhka and KingR. As with any CIS teams, Empire has one of the most aggressive play styles. They always aim to draft heroes that snowball fast and hard to complement their strategy.
Their performance in the Manila Major is pretty consistent with most people’s expectations landing them in the lower bracket. However, they have proven that they are not pushovers and can be quite dangerous in a best of one. Empire has shown bits and pieces of brilliance and can take out tier one teams when they bring their A-game. They are going to need to give it all they’ve got when the main event begins!
Let’s dive into the recipe together, shall we?
This recipe came from fellow blogger, Domestic Man, and if I could shake his hand and thank him for this dish I certainly would because O.M.G. is it incredible! The lamb comes out perfectly seasoned. Every bite tastes sour, but not overly so, and pungent from the minced garlic and onions. If you really enjoy Asian flavors you certainly will appreciate this dish. The best part? It’s completely noob-friendly. Just mix the marinade, toss in the lamb. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Stick the meat on a skewer and pop on the grill to cook. That’s it! You’re done! 🙂 Enjoy this recipe everyone and let’s get cooking!
Yields: 8-10 kebabs
1/2 lamb shoulder (2 lbs)
2 medium onions, blended
6 cloves garlic, blended
4 bay leaves
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tsp)
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp sea salt
- Cut the lamb into 2″ chunks, and place in a ziploc bag.
- In a blender or food processor, blend the onion, garlic, and water. Combine with the bay leaves, apple cider vinegar, pepper, oregano, and lemon juice and pour everything into the ziploc bag. Marinate in the fridge for four hours.
- After four hours, skewer the lamb pieces (if using wooden skewers, soak them for 30 minutes first) and warm up your grill on med/high heat.
- Grill on direct heat, rotating the skewers with a pair of tongs every few minutes, and sprinkle the salt over the skewers as they cook.
- When you have a hard time looking at the skewers because they are so delicious, remove them from the grill. Should take about 10 minutes altogether.
- Let the shashlik rest for five minutes and serve. This dish is commonly served outdoors in Russia, with fresh, lightly-salted vegetables like tomato, mushrooms, or cucumbers as its only accompaniment. Enjoy!