Biltong - What is it??
After I finished college in Dublin I moved away to explore Cape Town, South Africa. From 9 to 5 I was working for a coastal engineering company and otherwise I was getting stuck in to surfing, braais (barbecues), and exploring the hiking trails around the Cape. It didn’t take long until I came across a cured meat snack called biltong, a local South African delicacy that’s packed full of protein. Once I tried it I was hooked. It’s not often you come across a snack that tastes great, is really nutritious and is handy to take with you. I got so into it I started a hobby of learning how to make it myself at home. I used to take it in to work and the local South Africans would give me tips to get it just right. It was then that the idea started to come together about doing something with Irish beef for people back home in Ireland.
Biltong is actually two words (BIL meaning rump and TONG meaning strip) that have been joined together and dates back to the 17th century when Dutch settlers first arrived to the Cape. The Dutch settlers needed a way to cure their meat so that it would last on the long treks into the veldt. Having slaughtered a cow the settlers (Voortrekkers) would cut the meat into long strips, rub salt and spices into it and then let it hang it in the back of their oxen wagons to dry in the sun. Any time they felt a need they would then simply carve a strip off the larger strip for themselves- protein on the go!
Today in South Africa biltong is made using loads of different meats, anything from beef to Kudu to Ostrich and even crocodile.. Stript is just sticking to prime Irish beef for the moment through!