South African Biltong is a beloved snack throughout the entire country. It is somewhat similar to a beef jerky however the meat is air-dried as opposed to smoked. It is also flavored with a unique sweetness from brown sugar, spiced up with coriander, pepper and vinegar. These flavors come together to make a wonderful bite that truly grows on you. Once you start, you want another and another.
South African biltong was made out of necessity. For centuries it was a way to have protein along the trails when refrigeration had not been invented. Today it is mainly made out of beef as it is abundant but back in the day it was a way to cure meat especially from large African animals like kudu , springbok and wildebeest.
The word biltong comes from the Dutch, bil (buttock) and tong (strip).
Back in the day it was made during the cold winter months when the risk of bacterial mold would be at a minimum. It turns out the marination in vinegar and the spices especially coriander help to reduce bacteria as well.
Today South African biltong is made all over the world and beloved as a delicious snack. Fair warning it is addicting. You can easily make it at home and you should, a lovely treat indeed! I used these handy hooks to dry the beef. You will also need a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder and a fan.
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South African Biltong
A delicious South African iconic treat you can make at home
- 2 lbs top rump beef
- 3 Tablespoons vinegar malt or cider
- 2 Tablespoons salt coarse
- 1 teaspoon black pepper ground
- 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 Tablespoon Brown sugar
In a dry pan toast the coriander seeds. Remove and grind with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
Prepare the meat by using a sharp knife and cut into one inch thick pieces along the grain of the meat and place into a glass container.
Combine all the spices including the vinegar and rub into the meat. Cover and let the biltong cure overnight in the refrigerator.
Remove the meat and pat dry taking care to not remove the seasoning.
Put each biltong onto a hook and hang it in a well aired, ventilated space with a fan blowing . Take care not to set the fan right at the meat. Make sure the pieces of the meat are not touching and place paper towels underneath the meat to catch any excess liquid.
It will take about four days for the meat to cure. You should not be able to feel any give in the meat when you pinch it, that is the indication it is done.
Once cured, you can cut the pieces into bite size pieces and savor the biltong!