South Africa is known for its diverse culture and remarkable cuisine, and one dish that stands out is the Skilpadjie. It is a traditional delicacy that dates back to the days of the Voortrekkers and has been passed down from one generation to another. Skilpadjie is more than just a savoury treat but an emblem of the rich culinary heritage of South Africa.
What is a skilpadjie?
Skilpadjie is an Afrikaans name for a small, oblong meat dish made from sheep or lamb liver, mixed with minced onions, herbs, and spices. The name ‘Skilpadjie’ derives from the Afrikaans word “Skilpad,” which means tortoise and is derived from the meat’s resemblance to the creature’s shape. Skilpadjies are traditionally cooked over a braai, which is a South African BBQ.
History of skilpadjies
Skilpadjies were said to have been created by the Voortrekkers, who travelled from the Cape Colony into the hinterland of South Africa, taking with them a love for meat and the need to innovate. They would preserve their meat by curing it in salt and spices – which is quite similar to how the skilpadjie is prepared. Skilpadjies became an essential part of South Africa’s food heritage, specifically in the Afrikaner community, passed down from mothers to daughters and fathers to sons.
Skilpadjie recipe: How to cook skilpadjies
To make traditional Skilpadjies, you will need the following ingredients:
- 500g of lamb’s liver
- Between 16 to 20 slices of thin bacon
- One onion, diced finely
- Two tablespoons of butter
- One tablespoon of garlic
- 14 g (tablespoon) of cumin
- 14 g (tablespoon) of paprika
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
- Toothpicks for fastening
What to do:
- Initiate the process by immersing the liver in cold water for a quarter to a third of an hour to purge excess blood and ensure a purer taste.
- Transfer the liver to a paper towel or sanitary kitchen fabric to blot it dry.
- Melt butter in a pan over medium heat and add onion, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir-fry these ingredients for approximately 5-7 minutes until the aromas are released.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool down.
- Chop the liver into pieces and blend it with the cooled onion mixture.
- Encase each chunk of liver with a bacon strip, using a toothpick to keep it intact.
- Saute over a medium flame until the bacon turns crispy and a luscious golden brown on all sides, which would typically take around 4-6 minutes – enjoy your meal!
5 Different ways to Serve skilpadjies with other dishes
- Serve skilpadjies over rice. Cooked white rice is the perfect accompaniment to skilpadjies, and you can easily add other flavorful ingredients like diced tomatoes, peas, or sautéed onions for extra flavour.
- Add skilpadjies to a curry. The combination of spicy skilpadjies with the creamy richness of a curry is a delicious option for dinner. Serve over cooked basmati rice for a complete meal.
- Use skilpadjies as an appetiser. Serve the cooked skilpadjies with toothpicks to make them easy to eat – it’s a great way to get your guests in the mood before dinner starts.
- Add skilpadjies to a salad. The savoury flavour of skilpadjies makes them a great addition to salads, and they’re also a nice way to boost your protein intake.
- Include skilpadjies in a wrap or sandwich. Skilpadjies are delicious when combined with fresh vegetables and sauces for an easy lunch or light dinner option.
No matter how you choose to serve skilpadjies, they’re sure to be a hit. Skilpadjies are an excellent way to add some flavour and variety to your meal – so get creative and experiment with different dishes! You may just find a new favourite.
Final thoughts: Mastering the art of skilpadjie preparation
Skilpadjies are delicious and easy to make – the perfect way to introduce yourself to South African cuisine. It is a dish that epitomizes the rich culture and history of South Africa. Skilpadjie is versatile and can be enjoyed as a quick snack, a side dish, or a meal. If you try this recipe at home, don’t forget to invite your friends over for a traditional South African Braai and impress them with your cooking skills. Enjoy and savour every bite!
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