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A truly Capetonian fish-braai-recipe
What is truly South African? A braai! What is a truly Capetonian braai? A snoek braai. Jan Braai, the man behind National Braai Day, celebrated on Heritage Day, September 24th, shares with us his snoek braai recipe.
What is snoek?
It is one of the Cape’s most popular exports, growing up to 200cm in size. Snoek forms schools near the bottom or midwater, and prefers water between 13° and 18°C. Although it's a treat to buy this fish fresh, snoek freezes well and is available all year round. Snoek can be baked, poached, fried or smoked, but the traditional way to serve it is grilled over the coals with boiled sweet potatoes.
Where can you buy the fish?
In Cape Town snoek can be purchased at most working harbours, including, Kalk Bay harbour, Hout Bay harbour or Granger Bay harbour. Snoek can also be found at Texies in Seapoint and at Texies by the Cape Town station. In season, fresh snoek is also available at many local supermarkets.
But let’s hand the word over to the braai-master, Jan Braai.
"Once you have mastered what follows below it stands to reason that you will experiment and develop your own special way of braaing snoek using this as a foundation."
1. When you buy your snoek, ask for it to be cleaned and for the head and tail to be cut off.
2. When starting the actual snoek braai process at home, wash the snoek under cold running water.
3. Now the snoek needs to be dried. This can be done in one of three ways:
4. Using a small pot on the fire, or on a stove, lightly fry the chopped garlic in butter. Then add the apricot jam and lemon juice. If you want to add some of the optional ingredients, do so now. Heat and stir until everything is melted and mixed.
5. If you salted the snoek in step 3, you now have to shake off all the course sea salt. Most of the big visible pieces need to be shaken off as a tooth can be broken on them. Obviously some of the salt would have transferred onto the snoek so keep this in mind when adding extra salt in one of the next steps. This 'pre-salting' of snoek with coarse sea salt is loved by some and hated by others. You need to test whether it works for you.
6. A snoek should be braaied 'open'. Smear the skin side of the snoek with oil so that it does not stick to the grid and now place in the grid, skin side down. There are two ways:
7. Grind salt and pepper onto the flesh side of the snoek and lightly pat it onto the meat.
8. Braai time: Whether you are using foil or whether the skin side went straight onto the grid, a snoek should be braaied for about 15 minutes in total. This time can slightly deviate depending on heat of coals, height of grid and size of snoek. The skin side of the snoek will be down for about 80% of the total braai time. You can test whether the snoek is ready by inserting a fork in the thickest part and slightly turning the fork. If the flesh flakes, the snoek is ready.
9. Basting the snoek: The basting should happen during the time that the flesh side is up. Use a brush or simply drip it onto the fish with a spoon. You can baste as often as you wish until all the basting is used.
Additional snoek braai advice and tips