South African Recipes

South African recipes stem from a unique blend of multiple cultures, so diverse that you might find it hard to choose between them!

South African Biltong

One of the traditional foods, South African Biltong was developed by the original settlers.

One of the staples of the South African diet, South African biltong is a type of drive meat that is used to carry along with the hiker as they go. It has become more than simply a meat or product that is used by the traveler however. Aside from this it is also a staple food of the people of South Africa and is in fact considered a delicacy by many people, depending on what it is made of.

South African BiltongThere are a wide array of meats which are used to make South African Biltong. Among the varieties of them are beef biltong, ostrich biltong, fish biltong, and even kudu biltong. Typically the biltong is made by slicing the meat down the length of the grain, so that the meat runs with the grain and is somewhat chewy. Beef biltong however is often made so that it is sliced cross grain to be more tender.

Biltong is used by many of the South African people when they will be traveling. It’s very common to see small pouches of biltong being carried when on safari or simply working outdoors for a long period of time, but that’s not the only way it’s eaten or the only reason its carried. It has become a national snack of sorts in South Africa. Biltong is often compared to beef jerky or turkey jerky.

It is like both of those things but differs in the way it is made, as well as the spicing that is used to make it. The name biltong comes from a Dutch word that means “rump”. Originally the Biltong that is made and used came with the settlers. Those who came to South Africa in the middle part of the 17th century brought along recipes for helping them to preserve meat. The need to do this was obvious. The hot climate wasn’t exactly conducive to keeping fresh meat and a large animal kill could either feed the colony or be wasted. According to the researchers, biltong was the answer. It comes from the meat that was dried and carried by the wagon travelers.

Ingredients needed to make South African biltong:

– Beef
– Rock Salt
– Coarse ground black pepper
– Coarse ground coriander
– Apple cider vinegar

How to make biltong:

1. Cut your beef into strips. The strips should be cut with the grain, about 6 inches long and a half-inch thick. Depending how you want your biltong, you can cut your beef to your own specifications. Once you have cut your beef into strips, sprinkle some rock salt on each side of the pieces and let it stand for an hour. If you let it stand for longer, your biltong will be more saltier in the end.

2. After you have left your beef pieces to stand for about an hour, you can now scrape off all the excess rock salt with a knife. Once done, pour some apple cider vinegar into a bowl and dip the beef strips into the vinegar for a second or two. Although apple cider vinegar is recommended, any vinegar will do.

3. Now sprinkle some coarse ground black pepper and ground coriander over the meat on both sides. These mixtures are standard and you could always try add some of your own spices to give your biltong that consistent and special taste. What ever tickles your fancy. Leave your biltong to stand overnight. Your biltong is now ready to dry.

4. When it comes to drying biltong, you have several options and methods. The first method many people use is to hang it in a cool place and have a fan blowing on it. However, this method can spoil your biltong due to the air humidity. Second method is the biltong box which is more reliable. The biltong box can either be purchased (best option), as they go for cheap or it can be home made. The biltong box as the name implies, is a small wooden box with a 60 watt lightbulb inside. Once your biltong i splaced inside the bilton box, switch on the bulb and leave for 3 – 4 days to dry. Make sure the box has a few holes as this promotes good circulation inside the biltong box.

So how do you know when your biltong is ready? You will know its ready when the biltong is hard and brown on the outside, but slightly moist and red on the inside. If however, the biltong has turned green, do not eat! Thats it!

Biltong recipes vary widely according to who’s making the product. There are “secret” biltong recipes that are as closely guarded as the recipe for that very famous fried chicken. It’s just as common to see biltong being made in a hut or in a home, as well as in a store. Making biltong from any meat imaginable also makes it an interesting taste treat. South African Biltong is one of the things you have to try on your visit to South Africa.

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