Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Shish Tawook & Toum aka Lebanese Garlic Lemon Chicken and Garlic Sauce

If you've never tried Shish Tawook, get ready for it to blow your mind! Seriously. The first time I had it was with some friends at this little Mediterranean restaurant in Bellevue, WA called Mediterranean Kitchen. It's funny, because when it comes to Mediterranean Kitchen, you're either oblivious to it, or when someone mentions it you enthusiastically go crazy talking about all of the amazing things they serve there. It's one of those places that people go nuts and insist you go if you've never been. Ah my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Med Kitchen (I'm abbreviating b/c Mediterranean is a long word, and I don't want to continue typing it ;) ) is a small, almost hole in the wall, in Bellevue, there's maybe 10-15 tables? If you're ever in the area and want the best Med dinner of your life, go there. But diner beware: You will without a doubt wreak of garlic for a day afterward. In my opinion, I would gladly wreak of garlic just to enjoy Med kitchen's amazingness.

Their dinners include an amazing lentil soup, that I have yet to replicate :( and flat bread served with a garlic-y dressing for your dipping pleasure, as well as rice with your entree. I've only ever ordered two things when I've gone. The Shish Tawook (Charbroiled chicken breast tenderloin marinated in garlic, lemon juice, herbs and spices) and the Samaki Harrah (Spicy Salmon fillet marinated in garlic, lemon, basil and pine nuts and charbroiled to perfection, served with Tahini sauce on the side). Both were delicious, but I find myself ordering the Shish Tawook every time now. It's perfectly juicy, and has more flavor in it than I can even imagine. It's served with this garlic-mayo type sauce that I can't get enough of either! Since I fell head over heels in love with the garlic-y goodness that is Shish Tawook, and since Bellevue isn't exactly right around the corner from me, I went in search of recipes so I could enjoy the yumminess at home. 

I browsed the Internet for a few hours one day trying to get as close to the original recipes as I could. I've gotten close enough to be satisfied. I usually have all of the ingredients on hand too, which is helpful! The only thing you may have to purchase specially is the cardamom, which can sometimes be expensive. And since you only need 1/8 tsp, I suggest buying it from the bulk spice section of your grocery store. Most grocery stores have them nowadays (Fred Meyer, Safeway, etc). Or you can leave it out, it's up to you, but I can honestly taste the difference without it. Regardless, your Shish Tawook will be amazing with or without the cardamom! The sauce that goes with the Shish Tawook, I've come to find out, is called Toum. It's essentially a yolk-less mayonnaise, and it takes seconds to prepare! If you're worried about using raw egg in your Toum, purchase pasteurized eggs, and you'll be good to go.

This is a perfect Summertime meal b/c it utilizes the grill. It would be great served with grilled veggies, that's what I'm doing tonight! I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!!

Shish Tawook adapted from Allrecipes

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup plain yogurt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Whisk together the lemon juice, vegetable oil, plain yogurt, garlic, tomato paste, salt, oregano, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, and cardamom in a large bowl; add the chicken and toss to coat. Transfer the chicken mixture into a large plastic bag; refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate. Cook on preheated grill until the chicken is golden and no longer pink in the center.

Fast and Easy Toum Recipe (Lebanese Garlic Sauce) from The Food Blog

5 cloves of garlic
1 egg white
Juice of 1 lemon
A good pinch of salt
1 cup of iced water of which you will use around 2 tbsp
1 cup of neutral oil, canola or vegetable oil (Edit: Since this recipe was published, I’ve come to understand that seed and commercial vegetable oils are highly inflammatory and largely contribute to heart disease and diabetes. I suggest using oils low in Omega 6 and high in monounsaturated fats. As neutral oils go, a high oleic sunflower such as this one would be a good option.)

Put the garlic cloves along with salt and 1/4 of the lemon juice in the blender

Blend on medium and scrape the sides down when the garlic goes flying everywhere

Add the egg white and blend on medium

Add half the oil in bit by bit. A thin stream is not necessary, but don’t go crazy. A reasonable, fine, steady pour is good

At this stage, the emulsification should have taken place. If it hasn’t and the sauce looks like it has split, then something has gone wrong. You may need to remove half the amount, add another egg white, whizz away and re-pour what had already split. But if you take it slow without pouring the oil too quickly, it should be fine

Switch to a slow blend, and add the rest of the lemon juice in slowly too

Add the rest of the oil in the same fashion

Add 1 or 2 tbsp of water. You will see the consistency change into something wonderfully creamy and light. Water seems to do wonders for the texture, I’m not sure why

Monday, July 30, 2012

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Sorry for the absence folks! We've had a busy few months in our household. We moved and got settled into our new house. Then I got into a bit of a lazy period. Just bein' honest, don't judge me ;-) After being so busy for so many days and weeks, I just needed a bit of down time, and I didn't want to have to do anything for awhile. Then we found out that we're expecting our second child, and I've been working on not being exhausted and sick all day. I'm doing great now, and I'm almost in my second trimester. So I'm back now, and I'm really excited to get back into a regular schedule here on the blog. I really did miss sharing things here!

Moving forward, I still plan on continuing Meatless Monday because I wholeheartedly believe that it's a good thing. I'm not sure if I'll continue doing the weekly deals, and I have new ideas for the weekly meal plan. We shall see! In the meantime, I've got lots of great recipes and ideas coming!

Thanks for sticking with me, and thanks for being patient in my absence. That is, if you noticed :) I'll be back tomorrow with a recipe for the most amazing chicken you've ever had!