Biltong is an SA classic and one of the first things that South African expats miss when they touch down on foreign soil. If you mention the word “biltong”, it will be a dead give-away that you are a red blooded home-grown South African. Yup, biltong is somewhat of a staple food source in SA and if you’ve left your home shores in search of opportunities and a new life in another country, chances are high that you’re missing out on your droёwors and biltong snacks. Perhaps it’s time to make your own biltong.
Get Your Biltong Fix From Afar
How will you get your biltong fix when you are living and working outside of South Africa? Does this mean that you have to give up on your weekly nibbles? While there are South African shops found in various corners of the globe, not all of them are easily accessible or readily stocked with the type of biltong that hails from SA. Just because your local SA shop doesn’t have what you need and foreign versions of biltong are a far cry from the real thing, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up on that mouth-watering taste of your favourite treat forever. Why? Because with the right biltong recipe and a “make your own” biltong box, you can make you very own stash.
Before you can put your biltong recipe to the test, you have to make your own biltong box first. Let’s take a look at how to do that…
Homemade Biltong Box
To make biltong, you need to ensure that the biltong can dry in a space that is protected from flies and other insects. That is why a box with a light is needed. The best kind of homemade biltong box is a wooden box although some people do use cardboard boxes and even glass or plastic boxes. You can make your own box fairly easily. Here are the steps:
- Make a wooden box – it should be 90cm high, 60cm wide and about 40 to 60cm deep.
- Make a door to fit on hinges so that you can open and close the box.
- About 30cm from the bottom of the box, insert a wooden divider (a seeming shelf).
- Drill a variety of holes into the sides of the box, the divider shelf, and the top of the box to allow for breathing.
- Cut and insert several (around 6) wooden rods inside the box close to the top (the meat pieces will hang from these).
- Insert a 100W light bulb in the middle of the section below the divider shelf.
Following instructions like this blindly can be overwhelming, so why don’t you check out SA’s very own Suzelle DIY on how to make biltong. After her quick and easy biltong recipe, she actually goes into detail and shows you how to make a biltong box. View the Suzelle DIY How to Make Biltong video here:
A true south african biltong recipe
The biltong box is obviously an important part of the process, but so is the preparation of the meat for drying. Now that you know how to make your biltong box, here’s a great biltong recipe for you to try out:
What you need to make biltong:
- 2kg of top side or silverside steak
- 1 cup of red wine vinegar
- 100ml of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper
- 30ml of coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon of paprika (or crushed chilli)
- 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda (this softens the meat)
What to do:
- Slice the meat into 2cm thick slices and rub each slice with vinegar.
- Layer the pieces of meat – with the thicker pieces at the bottom – in a glass bowl and pour the red wine vinegar into it.
- Cover the bowl with cling wrap and leave it to rest in the fridge for around 12 hours – mix it up frequently to ensure that the meat strips are evenly spiced.
- In a bowl, mix the black pepper and paprika. Mix it well to form a rubbing mix.
- Really rub and massage the rubbing mix into the slices of meat.
- In a separate bowl mix the salt, sugar, and bicarb.
- Remove the meat from the marinade and coat each slice by rolling it in the spices rubbing mix.
- Place all the pieces of meat into the salt, sugar, and bicarbonate of soda mixture and really mix it in. Leave the meat to stand in the bowl for a few hours.
- Now hang each of the pieces of meat inside the biltong box on the wooden rods.
As you can see, the recipe to make biltong and the instructions to make a homemade biltong box are both quite simple to follow. So, there’s no excuse for not having biltong while living abroad. If you try out making your own biltong, you might even be able to share it with fellow expats or treat your new colleagues and friends to a completely new taste sensation.
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