how to braai snoek

This is the ultimate snoek braai recipe and include various snoek braai tips and advice on decisions at different stages of the snoek braai. A collection of knowledge from various famed snoek braaiers result in this snoek braai recipe and description. Once you have mastered what follows below it stands to reason that you will experiment and develop your own special way of braaing snoek using this as a foundation.

Snoek should be braaied open. Oil the skin side and pat salt & pepper into the flesh side.

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh snoek
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 150 ml apricot jam
  • 100 ml butter or olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 25ml soy sauce (optional)
  • 50 – 100 ml white wine (optional)
  • Dash of chilli sauce (optional)

This is how a snoek should look when it's ready.

Method

  1. When you buy your snoek, ask for it to be cleaned and for the head and tail to be cut off.
  2. When starting the actual snoek braai process at home, wash the snoek under cold running water.
  3. Now the snoek needs to be dried. This can be done in one of three ways:
    • By hanging it in a cool area with a draft blowing over it. Hanging up a snoek is not always easy if you don’t live in a fisherman’s village on the Weast Coast so an easy way of hanging the snoek to dry is by already putting it in the grid that you will be braaing it in, and hanging the grid on a hook in a cool place with a slight draft, for example under a tree;
    • By salting the snoek with coarse sea salt that will absorb all the water;
    • By blotting it with paper kitchen towels.
    • Whichever of these methods you use, do make sure that flies cannot make a pre-emptive strike and that your snoek has some defence system against aerial attack by flies.
  4. Using a small pot on the fire or on a stove, lightly fry the chopped garlic in the butter. Then add the apricot jam and lemon juice. If you want to add some of the optional ingredients, do so now. Heat and stir until everything is melted and mixed.
  5. If you salted the snoek in step 3, you now have to shake off all the course sea salt. Most of the big visible pieces need to be shaken off as a tooth can be broken on them. Obviously some of the salt would have transferred onto the snoek so keep this in mind when adding extra salt in one of the next steps. This “pre salting” of snoek with coarse sea salt is loved by some and hated by others. You need to test whether it works for you.
  6. A snoek should be braaied “open”. Smear the skin side of the snoek with oil so that it does not stick to the grid and now place in the grid, skin side down. There are two ways:
    • Straight onto the grid. Coals will need to be slightly gentler as the skin might burn easier. More heat goes straight into the fish as it will not be deflected by the foil. You definitely need to pay more attention and make sure you don’t burn the fish. The skin side of the fish will end up slightly crisper.
    • Foil on grid and fish on foil. Coals can be hotter as the foil protects the fish from getting burned. Another advantage of doing it on foil is that you can fold up the sides of the foil, which saves any basting and sauce that runs off the fish. The fish will then partly “boil” in the sauce (a good thing). Fish braaied on foil is also easier to lift completely onto a serving tray still on the foil.
  7. Grind salt and pepper onto the flesh side of the snoek and lightly pat it onto the meat.
  8. Braai time: Whether you are using foil or whether the skin side went straight onto the grid, a snoek should be braaied for about 15 minutes in total. This time can slightly deviate depending on heat of coals, height of grid and size of snoek. The skin side of the snoek will be down for about 80% of the total braai time. You can test whether the snoek is ready by inserting a fork in the thickest part and slightly turning the fork. If the flesh flakes, the snoek is ready.
    • When braaing with foil I would braai 10 minutes skin side down, 3 minutes flesh side down (and during this time remove the foil from the skin side) and then a final 2 minutes skin side down to brown the skin.
    • When braaing without foil I would go 12 minutes on skin side and then turn and give 3 minutes on flesh side to brown flesh side. There is a far greater risk of burning the snoek here, so you may also want to turn it more often. If you do, then you need to baste it after each turn, so make sure you have enough basting sauce by adding the white wine, or simply increasing all the ingredients of the basting sauce.
  9. Basting the snoek: The basting should happen during the time that the flesh side is up. Use a brush or simply drip it onto the fish with a spoon. You can baste as often as you wish until all the basting is used. Should you find that you would like to use more basting, then increase the basting part of the recipe next time.

Additional snoek braai advice and tips

  • There is a constant risk that the fish will stick to the grid, so gently shake whichever side of the grid is on top at any stage of the braai to loosen it from the meat.
  • Serve the snoek skin side down, flesh side up.
  • It can be dished using a spatula. Break rather than cut through the snoek (as you would for example do with a pizza) as cutting through the snoek would also cut the bones into smaller parts, which can get stuck in your throat. Normal uncut snoek fish bones are quite large and you will easily spot them.
  • Snoek is best served with a side of soetpatats, which when translated into English is sweet sweet-potatoes.
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