How to Braai Snoek the Jan Braai Way

Here follows a classic take on how to braai snoek by Stiaan. I made some minor adjustments and it really is a textbook snoek braai recipe. This is, after all, a braai textbook! Stiaan got the recipe from his father and there are hundreds of recipes similar to this one all along the west coast. Please don’t crucify Stiaan or me if your father was taught a snoek braai recipe ever so slightly different from this one. The idea here is to share the concept of how to braai snoek with fellow braaiers who don’t know how to braai snoek. This is no attempt to create a global snoek war!

You also might like Jan Braai’s take on a classic fillet braai with a twist.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh snoek (cleaned properly but with the skin on)
  • olive oil or sunflower oil
  • salt
  • pepper

For the basting sauce

  • 3 tots butter
  • 3 tots apricot jam
  • 3 tots lemon juice
  • 6 garlic cloves (crushed and chopped)
  • 1 tot Worcestershire sauce
  • fresh parsley (chopped) and fresh lemons (wedges) to serve

Method

  1. Get the fire going and at some stage, when you feel ready for this, use a small pot or pan on the fire and add all the ingredients for the basting sauce to it. Let the sauce melt and mix it together until it has a smooth consistency and starts to simmer.
  2. Paint or rub the snoek with oil on all sides and now grind salt and pepper onto the flesh side.
  3. You do not need any tinfoil and you can put the snoek in a hinged grid ‘open’ or ‘butterflied’ so that one side is all meat and one side is all skin.
  4. Close the grid and let the flesh side face the coals for about 3 minutes to heat up and change colour from pink to white with spots of brown.
  5. After this initial 3-minute stint of the meat side getting woken up by the coals, flip the grid and now the skin should face the coals for the next 10 minutes. Open the grid during this time and use a brush or spoon to baste the now upwards-facing flesh side properly with the sauce. You want the snoek to be in this position until you think that the snoek is essentially done – 10 minutes is a guideline. You will see the meat change colour as it cooks. It also gets firmer and starts to crack. By the time it flakes if you try flake it with a fork, it is definitely done; in fact, it is overdone. So don’t go all the way there.
  6. When you think the snoek is just about done, which should be roughly 13 minutes after going onto the fire in the first place, close the hinged grid again. Now flip the snoek so that the well-basted flesh side can face the fire one final time for about 2 minutes to caramelise the sugars in the sauce.
  7. Flip the grid a final time so that the skin side faces downwards for serving. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and squeeze lemon juice all over the snoek.
  8. Dish the snoek straight off the grid with a spatula. Resist the temptation to cut snoek into neat rectangular portions with scissors as you might have seen some uninformed seafood restaurants do. Cutting snoek bones into smaller pieces is dangerous as you might eat a piece, which will get stuck in your throat – and a west coast medical clinic is no fun on a Saturday afternoon.
  9. The skin will be charred and might stick to the grid. This is absolutely fine. Just lift the snoek meat clear off the skin when you dish up. The snoek skin has acted as a natural flavour-giving tinfoil and has served its purpose.

Fancy a delicious dessert to pair with this meal? How about caramel flambé bananas?

Jan Braai and his Shisanyama cookbook

 

This and many other recipes can be found in Jan Braai’s latest cookbook Shisanyama: Braai Recipes from South Africa (Book Storm).

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