If you can’t eat ’em join ’em: Justine Shapiro onboard an ostrich
Staples: Meat lovers paradise with exotic game like zebra, ostrich, wildebeest
Tastes: Barbequed with strong flavours
Top Dish: Biltong – spicy dried meat
Serving Suggestion: Try the meatiest sandwich you’ll ever taste
South Africa is famous for meat of every shape and description. This is definitely a meat lover’s paradise and here you have the opportunity to try a selection of game meats and other animals such as crocodile and ostrich.
Boerewors is the traditional beef sausage produced by farmers in South Africa and is an essential ingredient of any braai (barbeque). You will often find it sold by street vendors as a hot dog. It is a very thick and fatty sausage and can sometimes be a bit much for even die-hard carnivores. Nowadays, you may find that you can get sausages made out of more exotic game such as wildebeest, impala and zebra.
Ostriches have become a huge success as a foodstuff along with other game. They are indigenous to the Oudtshoorn area of South Africa and have been farmed since the early 19th Century. Today they are mainly farmed for meat and leather, however when they were first farmed it was their feathers that are in the most demand by the fashionable of Europe. The other amazing thing about these birds are their eggs that can take a weight of up to 400lbs, meaning you can stand on them without them breaking.
Biltong is dried meat that you can get made from every game animal imaginable in South Africa. It has a staple part of the diet for hundreds of years but now seems to be becoming a bit of a delicacy due to being made from ever more exotic ingredients. The word comes from the Dutch word ‘Bil’ meaning buttock and ‘tong’ meaning strip. It is made of top quality meat and always has been; don’t mistake it for a product such as beef jerky. You can try making it yourself if you follow the recipe below.
Recipe for Biltong
Before starting you will need:
· An electric fan
· A light
· 1 kg meat. Try experimenting with different kinds and game if possible.
· Some vinegar
· Less than a tablespoon of coarse salt.
· ¼ cup of brown sugar
· ½ cup of coriander (whole)
· ½ teaspoon pepper
You will also need some hooks and a dry place to hang the meat.
1. Wash the meat and cut at an angle against the grain into about one inch strips.
2. Sprinkle vinegar over the meat.
3. Place the coriander in a bag and crush the whole coriander.
4. Make ‘biltong mix’ by combining coriander, coarse salt, brown sugar and pepper.
5. Cover the meat in the mix and place overnight in the fridge.
6. Drain any blood that has seeped out the meat.
7. Quickly dip the biltong in a water/salt mixture to remove surface salt.
8. Make an incision at the end of the meat about an inch below the end for hanging.
9. Thread string through the incision in the meat and tie into a loop.
10. Hang the meat in a warm dry place.
11. To dry the meat turn on the light (normal light bulb) and the fan and leave for approximately four to seven days.
Check the meat during this time as depending on temperature and humidity it will dry at different rates. You can also try adding more spices such as paprika or herbs to create different tastes.
Biltong meat can be made into pies, scones or other pastry dishes or enjoyed in a hearty sandwich.
The Africa Guide.
Food and recipes are listed by country and there is lots of interesting information about traditional African food.
Online Restaurant Guide for South Africa. This lists restaurants all over South Africa and gives reviews and lists facilities of places to eat all over the country. A must for anyone spending some time there.
By Electra Gilles