Secret ingredient: Biltong

16:00, Feb 18 2013
biltong
SOMETHING TO CHEW ON: Biltong is packed with protein and is low on fat.

Confounded by that peculiar-looking South African specialty, biltong? We've got all the answers.

WHAT IS BILTONG?
Put simply, it's a tasty cured meat; the South African version of an Italian bresaola (think healthy salami) or an American beef jerky. Need to up those iron levels? Then best you go out and buy some biltong. It is also a perfect protein boost and is very lean and low in fat.

WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?
Not unlike beef jerky but with a South African twist (vinegar, salt, herbs and spices). The cuts of beef usually used for biltong are topside or porterhouse - sometimes even venison or ostrich - which has been dried, seasoned and cured in the traditional South African ways (carried over from the Dutch in the 1600s
back in the days when there was no refrigeration).

WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
Look in South African specialty stores or in the international deli aisle of a good supermarket or go online - there is a wonderful Christchurch biltong business that is only recently back on its feet after the earthquakes:
www.canterburybiltong.com. Plus lots of fitness types (told you it was low in fat) rave about www.kiwibiltong.com.

WHAT CAN I USE INSTEAD?

Beef jerky or a dried Italian cured meat. Maybe even choose a lean salami.

GOT ANY GOOD RECIPES USING IT?
Not a recipe as such, but if you have a teething toddler, get them chewing on some biltong for iron, protein and to sooth their gums. I have never cooked with biltong, rather I use it as a snack, as you would salami on a cheese/nibbles platter. Definitely try it as an easy in-car snack for the kids, or snipped into a grunty green salad.

QUICK BILTONG FACTOIDS

1) The word biltong is the Dutch word for rump (bil) and strip (tong). Please don't think you are eating dried tongue.
2) Biltong is a moist, less sweet version of jerky.
3) Wearing Billabong board shorts whilst eating biltong makes you an immediate South African surfie.

Trudi Nelson is President-elect of the New Zealand Guild of Food Writers. Check out www.fresh.co.nz for more of her recipes or call her on 0800 FRESH TV. 

Is there an ingredient you're confused by? Send us an email - be sure to put Secret Ingredient in the subject line - and we'll investigate it for you.

 

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