Tuesday, October 5, 2010

South Africa

South African cuisine is influenced by many different cultures. One very popular dish, from the indigenous people of the area, is called pap, similar to grits or polenta served with flavorful sauces. Indo-Malaysian cuisine is common as well, since the people frequently served the European colonizers of South Africa. Finally, the Dutch (Boers) and English colonizers had a strong impact on the cuisine as well.

One tradition particularly dear to the descendants of the Boers is the braai, or barbecue. Families and friends get together and cook on a grill over an elaborate charcoal fire - the braai. One's braai is typically a point of pride. Common dishes include skewered meat and vegetables, grilled sandwiches with cheese, other grilled meat, and skillet breads. Men in particular frequently cook a pot of stew over the fire, called a potiejko.

My original plan had been to break out my own charcoal grill and have a braai of my own. But my dinner partner had to cancel, there are still mosquitoes, and it got a little chilly for me to want to grill alone. So I ended up just roasting most of the food and skipping the griddle cakes in favor of leftover bread from Trader Joe's, and skipping the beans entirely. This left me with braised peri-peri chicken livers, marinated vegetable skewers, and ribs.

I'd only had chicken liver once before, and while I wasn't a big fan of the experience, I thought a flavorful sauce and more adventurous palate would make a difference. It didn't. I also learned that buying the peeled and sliced butternut squash from Trader Joe's is more than worth the extra couple of dollars, which was extra unfortunate because the squash was definitely the weakest part of the vegetable skewers. But on the plus side, the ribs are delicious - I'm looking forward to eating them all week with the rest of the vegetables. And my apartment smells pretty fantastic. Finally, I remembered to put foil down on the pans before putting the racks on, so clean-up should be pretty simple. Thank goodness!

Chicken Livers Peri-Peri

45 ml red wine vinegar
45 ml olive oil
15 ml lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
5 mg cumin
5 mg coriander
2 bay leaves
Tabasco sauce to taste (original recipe called for 2 red chiles, seeded and chopped. I'm afraid of chiles and heat, so I took it easy)
500g chicken livers
30 ml olive oil
30 g butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
15 ml worcestershire sauce
15 ml tomato paste
125 ml chicken stock
30 ml brandy (I used cognac)

Mix the ingredients above the livers, and place with the livers in a zip-top bag to marinate for about two hours. Saute the onion in the oil and butter until soft, then drain the livers and add. Cook over high heat for two minutes, then add the marinade and other ingredients except the brandy. Simmer for five minutes. Add the brandy and heat through.

Vegetable Skewers

1/4 butternut squash, in 1-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 package baby bella mushrooms, the large ones cut in half
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
garlic, salt, and pepper to taste

Marinate the vegetables in the oil, lemon juice, and seasonings for up to an hour. Place on wooden skewers and roast or grill until cooked.

South African-style Ribs

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp oil
Tabasco sauce to taste (original recipe called for 2 red chiles, seeded and chopped)

Put ribs in a zip-top bag with marinade (you can double or triple or more the recipe if need be. This was perfect for three bone-in country style ribs and a package of boneless). Let sit for at least 30 minutes, although overnight would be better. Discard marinade; grill or roast ribs until done.



  1. I'm gonna have to bring you some of the boer wors I made (they're a little dry because I trimmed a little too much fat from the meat). And you haven't had South African until you've had bobotie and bunny chow.

  2. Those vegetable skewers looked delicious! I've never had South African food and I rarely cook (though I want to learn), but I'm really enjoying looking at all these new foods!

    Also, I'm glad to see you have a blog! Another way for me to keep up with you!