Biltong is a famous South African treat that you can make at home, which is similar to beef jerky but the way of cooking it is air-dried. It is an easy dish to prepare where the beef is air-fried and seasoned with coriander, pepper, vinegar, and sweetened by brown sugar.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Biltong is a South African snack where its name came from the Dutch words bil, which means “buttock”, and tong, which means “strip” or “tongue”. Biltong was often made during winter because the risk of bacterial mould in such a season is low.
In ancient times, meat preservation was one of their survival techniques. European seafarers cure their meat in salt and brine to preserve it and cure it using vinegar.
They use vinegar because of its acidity, which inhibits the growth of the deadly bacterium that causes botulism. According to the World Health Organization, botulinum cannot live and grow in acidic conditions.
Back in the days, they would cure the meat of large African animals such as springbok, wildebeest and kudu. The reason behind this is because beef was not as abundant before as it is today.
The spices of Biltong that were introduced by the Dutch include pepper, coriander, and cloves. These antimicrobial properties of certain spices have also been drawn since ancient times.
It is also flavoured using brown sugar which gives it a unique sweetness. The spices and the sweetness from the sugar complement each other and make the dish impossible to resist after having a bite.
Typically, Biltong is eaten as a snack alone but it can also be added in making pot-breads and muffins. Some even make cheese spreads and potato crisps from it.
South African Biltong Recipe
- Beef (Top Rump) - 2lbs
- Vinegar - 3 tbsp
- Salt - 2 tbsp
- Black Pepper (ground) - 1 tsp
- Coriander Seeds - 1 tbsp
- Brown Sugar - 1 tbsp
- Toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan. After that, grind it using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
- Using a sharp knife, prepare the meat and cut it along its grain in one inch thick pieces then put it into a glass container to avoid contamination.
- Rub the vinegar and all the spices into the meat. Cover and leave it inside the refrigerator overnight as a way of curing it.
- Remove the meat and pat it dry. But, make sure not to remove the seasoning
- Hook the Biltong and hang it in a well-ventilated space with a fan where the aid can circulate properly. Make sure not to directly point the fan into the meat and its pieces are well placed and not touching each other. To catch any excess liquid, put paper towels underneath the meat.
- Curing time for the meat takes about 4 days and you will know that it is cured already when you pinch it and cannot feel any give.
- As soon as it finishes curing, you can now cut it into bite size pieces and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 452Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 2422mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 40g