On National Passtimes – The Braai

On National Passtimes – The Braai

As the wife and I are firm traditionalists ( 😀 ) we also had our own braai.  By the way, living in a flat is by no means an impediment to having a braai.  Braais come in all shapes and sizes and many are portable and/or small enough for a balcony, so there’s always a way.  As I said earlier:  ‘n Boer maak ‘n plan.

Kettle braai barbecue
My trusty little braai

You’re probably wondering about the chain.  While this braai resembles a Weber, it is in fact a cheap knock-off made from much thinner metal and subsequently much lighter.  During a fierce windstorm earlier in the year the lid decided to make a break for it (in the process obtaining the dents and scrapes visible in the photo) but luckily could not achieve enough lift to reach escape velocity.  Instead it fell in my neighbour’s garden three floors down…

…right there.

So, now I keep it chained up lest it attempts another escape.

Coal fire in kettle braai
There’s something deeply satisfying in building a fire.

I prefer building fires with wood because I like to sit staring into the flames, but the cost of wood and the size of my braai makes that a bit impractical, so I use charcoal (which works better for actually cooking the meat anyway).  At least I managed some small flames.

Snoek on a braai
Beautiful, isn’t it?

Today we opted to braai one of the snoeks we brought back from our vacation.  The object wrapped in foil on the far side of the grill is a garlic bread and the objects on the near side are sweet potatoes.  Actually something amazing happened during today’s braai…a Braai Day Miracle if you will.  I managed to get everything just right, with the fire not so hot that the fish burns or dries out, but hot enough that the apricot jam in the sauce I used started turning to syrup as the fish cooked in it.  You might not think garlic-and-apricot syrup sounds appetising, but I can assure you it tastes wonderful.

(Incidentally, the Cape Snoek is unrelated to the freshwater fish of the same name found in the Netherlands.  Dutch settlers in the Cape gave this fish its name because it looked very similar to the fish they knew from back home, but it actually belongs to the snake mackerel family and is only found along the coastlines of Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand.)

Snoek, garlic bread and sweet potatoes
If a picture paints a thousand words…

And here you can see my lunch.  Cover the sweet potatoes in some butter and sugar and we’re ready to go.  And while wine is traditional with fish and beer with braais, we opted for the middle ground and had a cider (especially as neither of us like beer in any case).

All too soon, though, it looked like this:

Dirty plate with fish bones
…this one tells a story of a very satisfied diner.

The one drawback of snoek is that it’s an extremely bony fish, so you have to chew and swallow very carefully.  Doesn’t detract from the taste, though.

Frozen banana and chocolate dessert
Ice cream for the health-conscious

We rounded off the meal with this wonderful frozen banana-and-chocolate dessert.  Only containing a banana and some cocoa powder it tastes almost as good as ice cream but is much more friendly on the waste line.  Thanks again, Gigi, for telling me about this.

Now that I’ve mastered the snoekbraai I need a new challenge, so this weekend I’m going to attempt making a roast on the braai.  It can be done.  I’ll let you know how it went.

11 thoughts on “On National Passtimes – The Braai

  1. I spent a lot of time in South Africa years ago and still miss the whole braai ritual. My mouth’s watering at the thought! Unfortunately, can’t get good boerewors where I am now — and for me, for some reason, a braai doesn’t seem like a braai without boerewors — so I’m having to content myself with barbeques and fond memories.

    Anyway, belated happy Heritage Day to you. Good luck with your writing too. Looking forward to seeing how you get on.


    1. I have a friend who lives in Jordan for whom boerewors has become symbolic of home. She wrote a moving lament on her blog about not having any to braai over there. You could always try and find a recipe and make your own. I’ve never tried it myself, but I understand it’s not that difficult.

      About the writing, I really should stop making excuses and just get on with it 😉

      Thanks for stopping by.


    1. I always enjoy having people over for a braai. Some braais can go on for hours as you make fire and it burns out while you chat so you have to make fire again. Sometimes you only eat around midnight. It’s all about the social aspect.


      1. I’ve not really experimented. I use whatever is most readily available. I have noticed a difference between using a fire and using gas. But the main reason I prefer wood is the whole ritual. It’s therapeutic. And my choice of wood (if I have a choice) is geared more towards which give the best coals than on their airoma. (And no, I’m not a pyromaniac)


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