Freelance contribution by: Ember Snacks Writing Team

The biltong of today hasn’t changed much since its 17th century origins, when it was created by Dutch settlers in South Africa. It has remained a favourite staple of South African cuisine as well as making its way into kitchens and restaurants all over the world.

So What Is Biltong

Biltong is strips of hind meat, from a variety of animals – usually beef, but often game meats such as deer or ostrich. Its name comes from the Dutch words ‘bil’, which means hindquarters or butt, and ‘tong’ which means strip. Biltong can often be compared to a more widely-known beefy snack, jerky, but is actually a significantly healthier food with an average serving containing nearly 50% of an adults daily protein needs. In addition to its high protein content, it’s also high in iron and low in fat.

Cooking With Biltong

Biltong can be a delicious snack on its own but can also be the foundation of many different biltong recipes such as soups, stews, salads, and bruschetta; among many others. A great benefit to cooking with biltong is that it contains no artificial additives and is made from all-natural ingredients. Beef is the most common choice when it comes to biltong, as it’s easy to obtain and fairly inexpensive, but biltong can also be made from from chicken, fish, and game which means it’ll pair well with just about anything.

Professional chefs are increasingly using a variety of smoked salts, peppers, spices, and chillies to add a more sophisticated flavour to their creations. The addition of tea in a rub is becoming more popular due to the amazing flavours it produces. The key to a successful tea rub is to marinate the meat in the fridge for up to 12 hours before cooking, this gives the tea time to perfectly soak into the meat which will result in stunning flavours.

Tea Rub For Biltong - Photo of sliced biltong in a bowl

How to Create a Tea Rub For Biltong

Tea rubs offer fragrant characteristics that will enhance your favourite recipes and help create brand new ones. You could also infuse butter with your favourite tea for baking, or brew up a concentrated batch for marinating meats. Another method is to use tea leaves themselves as a dry spice for a meat rub.

As a general rule, black teas compliment dark meats, such as steaks, chops – and of course, biltong – better than lighter teas such as green tea.

To make a basic tea rub follow these 4 simple steps:

  1. Grind your tea leaves until fine (2 tbsp black tea)
  2. Combine leaves with seasoning: ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper
  3. Apply directly to your meat 
  4. Massage the rub into the meat, marinade then grill

The aromatic flavours of the tea leaves add a unique, savoury taste to your dishes that will take them to the next level. You could begin by adding ground tea leaves to your existing favourite dry-rubs to begin experimenting with cooking with tea.

If you’re interested in backyard grilling or being creative in the kitchen, then you’re likely used to experimenting with many types of ingredients and equipment and will know what imparts its own flavour complexities to food – especially meats. A tea rub, often combined with additional seasoning, provides an aromatic pungency to meats like biltong that will tantalize your taste buds and make you King (or Queen) of the barbecue.

Ember makes snacks like Biltong and Charcuterie, crafted right here in the UK. If you haven’t heard of biltong before, check out our what is biltong blog post. We’re taking protein back to the farm where nutrition is simple, meat is quality and animals roam free. Join us on pastures green.

Photo “Sliced meat in white ceramic bowl” is under an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to the photographer Jeff Siepman and is being posted unaltered (source)