Biltong - Gastro Obscura
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Meats & Animal Products

Biltong

This spiced jerky is a beloved snack in South Africa.

The thought of biltong might bring a tear of joy to the eye of a South African expatriate. The thick cured and dried strips of beef, kudu, springbok, impala, turkey, or ostrich are a country specialty.

Every South African butcher makes a version of this jerky-style snack. Many locals also make a homemade rendition using a makeshift contraption—usually a box with a lightbulb and a fan. Traditionally, the shop or home-butcher will cure their fresh game with coriander seeds, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and vinegar. Depending on the chef’s whim, they may also add hints of curry, chili pepper, cloves, ginger, mango powder, and other sweet spices that reflect the Malay influence on South African cuisine.

Not only is biltong delicious alone, it serves as a versatile ingredient. Cooks grate shreds into sauces, baked goods, and dips for a pop of spicy complexity. Butchers also add the savory meat to boerewors, another one of South Africa’s beloved butcher shop products. For those who can’t get enough of the gamey taste, area snack companies even sell biltong-flavored potato chips.

Need to Know

Biltong is made in varying degrees of "wetness." Don't be surprised if the butcher asks how dry you'd like yours.

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