Cape Town - The humble Cape (West Coast) snoek, the eponymous silver fish which favours the colder Western Cape waters, has for generations been a staple in the homes and on the plates of Capetonian families.
Favoured for its availability and relatively inexpensive cost (though that often depends on the time of year you purchase it), snoek is as part of Cape food culture as the gatsby or koeksister, having played a significant cultural and historical role in the economy of the province since the 1600's.
While it's usually pickled over Easter and eaten as a traditional delicacy with hot cross buns, or enjoyed year-round by locals and tourists alike, battered and deep-fried and served with a side of
slaptjips, it's over National Braai Day (September 24) each year when the true flavours of this simple fish really come to the fore.
Just as no trip to Kalk Bay, Hout Bay or Granger Bay harbours is complete without heckling with the local fishmongers over the price of fresh snoek (currently ranging from R55 upwards), no true Cape Town braai is complete without braaied snoek done over the coals.
Over the years the fish braai has become a local Braai Day staple, and the beloved Cape snoek, part and parcel of celebrations (it is all about Heritage Day, after all).
This lip-smackingly good recipe for an apricot-butter basted snoek on the braai is a Cape Malay classic that's best enjoyed surrounded by good friends and laughter.
1 large Cape snoek, cleaned, butterflied and with the head and tail cut off
Coarse salt and milled black pepper
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
125 ml smooth apricot jam (any brand)
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
Splash of dry white wine
2 tsp Cape Malay curry powder
3 tbsp chili sauce (optional)
Season the snoek with salt and pepper and allow to marinate for 30 minutes before patting dry with a paper towel.
Cook the butter and garlic on the stove until foamy, and add the rest of the ingredients.
Coat the snoek in the olive oil (this prevents it from sticking to the grid), and baste on both sides.
Close the grid and braai for 12 - 15 minutes, while constantly basting with the marinade.
Serving suggestion: use the leftover apricot butter as a side sauce.