Shish Tawook are the popular chicken skewers typical into several cuisines of the Turkic and Levantine area. The meat is diced, then marinated into yogurt and spices, and baked or grilled: delicious!
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ORIGIN OF SHISH TAWOOK
The Shish Tawook, also called Shish Taouk or Shish Tavuk (from the Arabic Shish=skewer, and the Turkic Tavuk=chicken), are classic chicken skewers, very famous into the Middle Eastern regions, with some variations depending on the local cuisines.
Thanks to the popularity of the Lebanese restaurants, these skewers are particularly known seasoned and paired with spices and dish typical of this cuisine.
Indeed, Shish Tawook is one of the classic dishes of the Lebanese Mezze: a selection of small plates, sauces, and appetizers that compose one of the best ways to taste the Lebanese food.
The sauce that more often is paired with Shish Tawook is the Toum: a garlic paste composed by garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. My preferred sauce with these skewers is the Muhammara: a delicious bell pepper, bread, and spices Levantine sauce. Other great pairings are Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, and Tabbouleh.
SHISH TAWOOK: TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS
MARINADE OR BRINE? - Traditionally, the chicken meat is just soaked into spices, lemon juice and yogurt. I prefer to prepare a simple brine with water, lemon juice, and salt to tenderize the meat. Then, I proceed with the classic marinade.
OVEN AND BBQ - Originally, the Shish Tawook has been prepared over a charcoal grill. In case you want to give it a try, the temperature of the BBQ and the internal temp of the meat are the same as the oven baking proceeding.
MEAT TEMPERATURE - Cooking the chicken breast could be difficult: often the meat results undercooked or dry and overcooked. I prefer to monitor the internal temperature of my skewers in order to obtain Shish Tawook cooked to perfection!
SERVING AND STORING - The Shish Tawook give their best just cooked. Otherwise, sometimes it's more convenient to prepare the chicken skewers in advance. In case you want to reheat the meat, preheat the oven to 210° F (100° C) and heat up the skewers very slowly, covered.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 cup(300 g) Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp ginger root, grated
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1.5 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 lemons
- 12 tbsp (200 g) table salt for the brine
- SHISH TAWOOK BRINE
First, pour 2 quarters of cold water into a not-metallic bowl. Then, add 12 tbsp (200 g) of table salt and the juice of 4 lemons. Stir well until the salt is completely dissolved. At this point, reduce the chicken breasts into small cubes, and soak them entirely into the brine. Finally, wrap the bowl and store into the fridge for 6 to 12 hours.
- YOGURT AND SPICES MARINADE
Now, prepare the marinade. Peel and mince the garlic, then peel and grate the ginger root. After that, pour into a bowl the yogurt, the spices, the tomato paste, the minced garlic, and the grated ginger.
At this point, raise the chicken pieces, and dry them over a clean kitchen towel. Finally, pour the meat into the marinade, then wrap and store into the fridge for 6 to 24 hours.
- COOKING THE SKEWERS
Preheat the oven to 285° F (140° C). Once ready, assemble the skewers, a few pieces per skewer. Now, place the skewers over a rack, then place the rack over a tray to protect the oven from the excess of marinade. Bake the chicken skewers about 45-55 minutes until well done, but still juicy. For a perfect result, I suggest to use a cooking thermometer: according to the USDA recommendations, the safe internal temperature of the chicken breast is 165° F (75° C).
Finally, operate the broil a couple of minutes to brown the meat a little beat. Serve immediately.
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