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Around the braai fire – Skilpadjies

His recipe is with compliments from Errieda Du Toit, a culinary commentator with a special interest in food’s cultural role. She has written 10 cookbooks. The latest -SHARE (Saam) received the World Gourmand Award as the African continent’s best book on heritage food. The photos were taken by Ian Du Toit.  She also advocates local food as content director for television programmes Kokkedoor, Koekedoor and the upcoming MasterChef SA.

Her blog Huiskok.com is devoted to the pleasures of the South African table.

Rural community cooks from places such as Namaqualand, the Karoo, the Overberg and the West Coast play a big role in preserving regional dishes such as porcupine back skin, warthog ribs and liver in caul.

Caul (netvet), the lacy, fatty membrane around the intestines and stomach of sheep, pigs and cows, is one of the almost- forgotten things from our food history and deserves praise as edible wrapping for anything. This recipe is from Namaqualand. The parcels are called skilpadjies because they look like little tortoises.



1 lamb’s caul

  • 15 ml oil
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 250 g snoek, cut into cubes
  • 250 g kingklip or angelfish, cut into cubes
  • 10 new potatoes
  • 12 medium prawns with shells
  • 2 crayfish tails with shells, cut into pieces (optional) 825 g mussels, cleaned
  • 15 ml salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 50 ml chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 lemon leaves, gently bruised
  • 125 ml dry white wine
Heat the oil in the potjie and fry the onions and garlic over moderate coals until the onions are soft. Add the fish, potatoes, prawns, crayfish tails (if using) and mussels in layers. Season with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and add the parsley and lemon leaves.

Heat the wine in a small saucepan over the fire or on the stove and pour the hot wine into the potjie. Cover and simmer over slow coals for 45 minutes. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened, then serve immediately with rice.

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