When I was just a beginner in a long immigration way I used to experiment a lot, trying my strength in different business projects, far from my home country. Once God sent me to the local Spanish Oktoberfest festival where I tried to earn money selling Russian beer «Baltika» and almost unknown dishes of Russian cuisine.
In Spanish touristic towns this German festival is always characterized by Spanish peculiar features. There’s a huge pavilion installed on the beach, capacity of couple of thousands of visitors. The bars inside are full of Spanish beer (all the three sorts). Bands from all over the Europe play folk music. All visitors are dancing and singing without any age limits. And what is more the menu in these bars is so varied, done according to the taste of every chef.
As for us, we rented a restaurant there for a month, capacity of 80 visitors. I performed the role of chef, my wife was a bartender and a friend of mine was in charge of the hall as a waiter.
The restaurant was open at 18:00 and close at 6:00. First days clients were trying the food we cooked, drinking beer «Baltika» and vodka «Pertsovka» with a great pleasure. However, the cured fish bream, sour cabbage and even smoked mackerel included in the menu, were not popular among them at all. Our business was about to crash. I had to make a number of changes immediately. So I made some innovations, rebranding and other useful things that bear the same fashion names. Another words, I had to change the menu. And I started cooking shashlik (pork kebab)…
As a result we could serve the menu for 300−400 people per night. And only three of us working!
From this lyric introductory part, with lots of boasting, of course, we come to the recipe itself.
My proven and tested on hundreds of German, French and, of course, Spanish clients, super-international, met with approval of Georgian and Armenian chefs (experts in cooking this caucasian meal) — here is my Shashlik, ladies and gentlemen!
Definitely pork meat. Semi fat which means each small piece should contain both meat and fat. For this reason the pig’s side suits perfectly (pork loin + bacon) shoulder blade and back side.
The size of pieces should be something between big and small. I normally cut the cubes by 5 cm approximately.
No doubt, during the last fifty years I’ve tried all possible and impossible ways of marinating shashlik and finally chose the most appropriate and right way.
Red and white onion — quantity equal to the meat’s. Cut in thin half rings and sprinkle with salt 3% (it's not so much, part of it will remain in the juice exuded).
Big garlic head cut in small pieces.
The ingredients should be well-mixed and mashed so that the juice could exude.
As for the spices, I add them approximately. The exact quantity is not so important.
- Black pepper
- Red hot aromatic pepper (not paprika, better pepper in flakes, like Chili, for example)
- Couple of bay leaves
- Mixture of Provence herbs (Oregano, rosemary, thyme)
- Blended tomatoes in can (not fried). You can also blend 5−6 fresh tasty tomatoes yourself.
The ready marinade should be well-mixed with the meat. Then it is closed with a top and put into the fridge for a night.
I’m not going to tell you how to fry, to turn the product from one side to another, and how to put out the fire when the fat is flowing down. It’s up to every chef to use his own tricks. The only thing I want to point: the overdried shashlik is much worse than the underdone one.
Couple of years after that Octoberfest had been over, local people of our town called me Don Pincho («Mr. Kebab»). Later I decided to lose some weight and being shocked again they started calling me «That Russian guy who’s lost damned lots of weight in just one winter!»