What is a weekend without a braai?!! I know in our household, it would just not be possible. That fire is lit for any occasion, and very often.
Something happens to a man when he stands in front of a fire and you put a pair of tongs in one hand and a beer in the other. Not quite sure what it is, but he seems to be transported onto another level. The chest puffs up a bit, he stands taller, he rocks from side to side, waving the tongs around and says: “ Nou braai ons lekker, boet!”
Seems to be a very happy place for most South African men. Just watch them around a fire. There is a code of conduct here, you never mess with another man’s fire! You could kiss his wife, but hey, the fire!!! No no, this is out of bounds! This is a sacred rule they learnt from their Dads when they were little kids, as when a male at a braai doesn’t have a mate around, any other male presence around the fire with him would do, so any boy children are roped in. There needs to be a pack of them for it to be really successful, this is not a solo thing. They are the hunters returning from the field with the catch of the day, while the gatherers are chatting over chilled glasses of Sauvignon Blanc doing the prep of the salads in the kitchen. This is tradition. Do not try to change this system, it works!
And then, when the meal is produced, so proudly: “Now look at that, hey! What a feast! Isn’t that amazing?” they say. And now you must praise loudly and go into raptures about how incredible they are, and what a meal this is!
Never mind that you did the shopping, and you have been preparing the marinades and the sauces for hours, putting it all together and out at the fire, ready to cook. No credit for that, love! This is just what we are supposed to do!
And we grab another glass of vino and smile to ourselves, life is so simple when you know how to play it.
Enjoy this Heritage Day with two of our favourite gourmet braai recipes.
MEDITERRANEAN POTATO SALAD
1 kg baby potatoes
2 t salt
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jar of small capers
1/2 cup black olives, pitted
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped dill
4 hard boiled eggs, cut into quarters
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
1/2 t sugar
1/2 c olive oil
1 t Djion mustard
salt & pepper
Boil potatoes in salted water, but don’t let them get too soft.
Cool and peel, then slice in half.
Mix the dressing well, and pour over the warm salad.
Add the capers, olives, herbs (keep a few back to the top) and onion and toss together.
Check the seasoning and then let it stand to absorb the flavours for an hour or so.
If too much oil has been absorbed, then add more.
Top with the eggs and the rest of the chopped herbs.
BRAAI: SEAFOOD PARCELS
Serves 6 – 8 people
800g firm white fish fillets, sliced into cubes (can be an assortment)
12 deveined prawns with the shells on, cut in half lengthways
400g baby calamari, sliced into thin rings
(You can also add in a cup of mussels or clams)
Tin foil to make parcels
3 thumbs of fresh ginger thinly sliced
1 cup of coriander
1 lime slices
2 sticks of finely sliced lemongrass
Chili Ginger and lime sauce for seafood parcel
2 t grated ginger
1 t grated garlic
2 deseeded chopped red chillies
1 1/2 T sesame oil
2 T peanut oil
1 lime, juice & zest
1 T fish sauce
1 1/2 T soy
1 t brown sugar or palm sugar, grated
1/2 t hot chili flakes
Mix these together well in a bowl.
Add in the roughly chopped ginger and lemongrass.
Add the fish to this, and coat well.
Take a double square of foil and put the fish with the sauce in the centre of the foil.
Top with the coriander and the lime slices.
Make sure the parcel is closed very well.
2 T Capers
1/2 a cup of pitted Olives
1 cup of halved baby tomatoes
1 packet of baby spinach
Handful of each: basil & flat leaf parsley
4 cloves of sliced garlic
3 T of olive oil
1 lemon, sliced
Salt and Pepper
Take a double square of foil and put the fish in the centre of the foil.
Add in the ingredients above and then drizzle with olive oil and season well.
Make sure the parcel is closed very well.
Now place the parcels on a heated Weber and close the lid.
They need to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through.
Do not overcook the fish.
If you don’t have a Weber, you can do this on the open braai, but make sure the fire is not too hot.
You can serve these with steamed rice to mop up the juices.