The Off-grid Gourmand: Fire-roasted Shishliki

What the hell is shishliki anyway? The name might be a bit goofy, but I'm convinced it's the easiest way to pack huge flavour with next to no effort or ingredients! This simplicity lends itself well to backpackers and rail-riding hobos alike. 

‘Shishliki’ is a dish of Russian origin that means ‘marinated meat’, roughly translated. It is popular in my home area around east-central Saskatchewan, and particularly in Kamsack. It is traditionally made with lamb, but is equally delicious with chicken, pork, or beef

At its most basic, all you need is:

  • Chicken thighs, boneless lamb shoulder or leg, or pork shoulder cut into 1 ½ inch cubes

  • Large onions (most of the flavor comes from onions I find)

  • Salt (seasoning salt is mighty fine)

  • Cracked pepper

  • Vegetable oil

How to prepare:

  1. Buy the meat as fresh as possible and do not freeze.

  2. Chop up a generous amount of onion into ½ inch pieces. Toss the meat and onions into a bowl, then throw in enough vegetable oil to coat everything. Get it nice and sloppy.

  3. Put some salt in there. You think that's enough? Throw in a little more. Same goes for the pepper.

  4. Toss the bowl around until that marinade evenly coats all of the meat. Transfer the batch into a vacuum seal bag then seal it... Just kidding! Hobos don't have vacuum sealers – use a sandwich bag. You might want to double bag it so oil doesn't bust out all over your stick and bindle.

  5. Place in the refrigerator overnight so the flavours have some time to mingle, then into the freezer it goes.

That is pretty much it. Take it out of the freezer on the morning of your trip and it should be de-frosted by supper time. You will want to cook it as soon as possible. But during the colder seasons in Saskatchewan, you should be fine for a few days. I’ve heard Shishliki be called ‘meat one day from retirement’ — food safety is only a suggestion! You put salt on it, didn’t you?

You can get creative and add more ingredients to the marinade. Try any of these:

  • Smoked paprika

  • Garlic salt & onion powder

  • Lemon juice

  • Fresh parsley

  • Cayenne pepper

Slow roast it next to your fire, but don't be afraid to get it a little charred. Smoke, ash, whatever. It’s all seasoning.