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South Africa's Favourite Snack

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October 28, 2014 / African / By
Nicola

"Sliced Biltong" by Delia du Plessis - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

Beef jerky is a popular snack all around the world, but not quite as many people have heard of biltong. Biltong is South Africa’s take on the dried meat snack, but gradually its popularity is spreading. The word ‘biltong’ originates from the Dutch words for ‘rump’ (‘bil’) and ‘strip’ (‘tong’); it was introduced to South Africa by the Dutch settlers in the 1600s.

Beef and game are the two most common meats which are used to make biltong. The meat is usually marinated in a vinegary mixture, before salt, pepper and spices are rubbed in. Then the meat is hung up and left to dry over the space of a few days. It is possible to make it at home, but it takes quite some practice to get it right – it’s much easier to buy it from South African shops and suppliers, who often make their own to their own recipes!

Once the meat has dried properly, it can be taken down and sliced into thin strips. It can be left relatively moist or left to dry out completely, depending on personal taste. Finally, all that’s left to do is start snacking!

If you’re a fan of other forms of dried, cured meats then you should definitely give biltong a try – if you haven’t already, that is!  It’s usually quite salty and has a very rich, meaty taste. Biltong can be made with different flavourings during the marinating and flavouring processes, so if you find a flavour you like it can be incredibly moreish.

By now you’ve probably realised the number of similarities between biltong and beef jerky. However, just in case you ever confuse the two, here are the main differences.

Aside from the fact that beef jerky tends to be more popular in America and biltong is pretty much the national snack of South Africa, there are a number of other features which distinguish the two. First and foremost is the fact that beef jerky is often smoked, while this cannot be said for biltong. Secondly, biltong is a cured dried meat, whereas beef jerky is generally only dried with salt. Essentially, much of that which distinguishes the two is to do with flavour. Taste a sample of beef jerky and a slice of biltong and you can definitely notice a difference!

Biltong is such a popular snack in South Africa that if you ever have the opportunity, you simply must try it. Once you do, you’ll never look back!

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Country: South Africa

Province/State: Gauteng

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Price Guide:$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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