Sampling The Biltong From Biltong Boss
Having never tasted Biltong before I have to admit I was expecting it to be a bit like Jerky which, let’s be honest, has a bit of a ‘rep’ as being tough, doesn’t it? Clive and Sharlene of Biltong Boss invited me to see them at their stand at the Fine Food Show in Harrogate and as soon as Clive said hi it was clear why he got into the Biltong business; he’s South African, the home of Biltong!
Biltong has long been a popular snack in South Africa thanks to it being easily portable and rich in protein and energy, essential characteristics for food on long journeys where space is tight. I was surprised to learn that Biltong doesn’t have to be Beef; it can be Springbok, Kudu, Ostrich, Fish or even Shark – basically any type of flesh that can be dried and cured!
Clive and Sharlene’s beef is thinly sliced, dried and cured using varying combinations of salt, spices, sugar and vinegar, depending on the type they’re producing. The beef is cut into easily manageable pieces that make it perfect for eating as a snack or for use as a Tapas dish when entertaining. I was given a trio of Biltong to try at home: Original Beef Biltong, Traditional Boss Beef Biltong, and Smoky Ghost Biltong all sealed in smart packets bearing the accolades they’d won.
I figured the Original type was as good a place to start as any, so that was the first packet to get opened, much to the nose-twitching delight of our pooch. Not a chance, fella! I was pleasantly surprised how nice it was as I took my first bite, and would describe it as a ‘thick cut Pastrami’, texture-wise. It was slightly chewy, but not tough, which was what I’d anticipated, so I wasn’t shocked there. The intensity of the beef flavour rocked me a bit; I’d been expecting the spices to be much more prominent than they were, but I was glad that the beef’s natural taste got centre stage.
Next up was the Traditional Boss Beef Biltong, and this won a Great Taste Award star in 2020 so I was expecting good things. This is how I would imagine the Great British Sunday roast Beef joint to taste if it was left to dehydrate; the meaty flavour was more intense than the original biltong. As with the Original Beef Biltong, I got a super taste of the beef on my palate; this isn’t fancily spiced or anything, which allows the beef to shine clearly, but you do get several subtle layers of seasoning in the mouth over time as you’re munching it.
The third, and final, variety of Beef Biltong The Man and I were sampling was the one he’d been looking forward to most: the Smoky Ghost Biltong, a 2 Great Taste star 2021 winning morsel. You certainly get the Naga Chilli’s fire straightaway, and no mistake! I got a clear tingle on my tongue, as did His Nibs, which made him very happy. Whilst I’m not averse to some heat, I preferred the smokier notes of the Mexican Chipotle Jalapeno which comes in quietly, but definitely, behind the Naga, adding another dimension to this snacks’ flavour profile. One thing we both liked was the ‘chew time’ of the Biltong Boss’ products; it satisfies the appetite, which is exactly what you want in an on-the-go snack.
If you’re curious to see what Biltong is like then head across to the website www.biltongboss.co.uk to order some for yourself.