by Kate Heyhoe
I would like a recipe for bitlong. My friend insists that it is biltongue I want, but I can only find bitlong but no recipe.
I have to admit this was not exactly in my recipe repertoire, but I did manage to locate a couple of recipes for you.
First, let's start with the name: you and your friend were each partially correct—but neither would win at Jeopardy. The dried beef/game specialty of South Africa and other African nations is known as "biltong" and while it's similar to jerky in procedure, the taste is more akin to Italy's famed prosciutto.
Usually eaten as a snack, it is made of most any meat with the most popular varieties being beef, kudu and ostrich. Strips of meat are cured with salt and a few spices, usually some coriander and pepper and hung to air dry. It was traditionally made by the Boers or Afrikaaner Voortrekkers when they went north from the Cape as a way of preserving meat.
Searching the web when this article was first written, I located "How To Make Biltong" at (URL removed) but that site is no longer available.
It sounded like quite a process. My favorite part of the recipe states:
"Here in Zimbabwe it is best to start preparing the Biltong in late autumn or winter when the weather is cold and there aren't too many flies around! (Cold here means a temperature of between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius)."
Then there's the biltong recipe—complete with instructions for making your own "biltong box" out of wood and a light bulb—at the University of Pennsyvania.
Of course, if the recipes seem too daunting, you can always order it from a company like http://www.africanhut.com/ and http://lekker.safeshopper.com/ in the USA or http://www.biltongbox.com/ in the UK.
Best of luck on your biltong—and let me know how it turns out!
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This page originally published as a Global Gourmet Today column in 1998.
Copyright © 2007, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page modified January 2007
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