Jason’s Braai tips

I just had a really awesome Sunday afternoon braai with my girlfriend’s family, and I was thinking I should share some of MY tips to getting a braai just right.

The Wood

I’ve found 2 types of wood that have a medium burning time but have very long coal heat time. Kameeldooring (also known as camel thorn) and anything that comes from Namibia. Kameeldoring is more expensive than normal wood, but there is a reason for it – it is always dry and makes very good coals. If you can find those beaten up trucks on the side of the road that sell Namibian “hout”, you are in luck. Ask the guy how the wood is and he will say “Dis soos yster!” (It’s like iron!).

The Meat

The meat is entirely up to you. Chicken, sosaties, chops, wors, snoek, you name it, everything goes. Anything from your local supermarket or even better, the butcher will do the job. Don’t skimp on the meat because not even a braai will fix that “ou skaap vleis”.

Spices and Sauces

Braai salt is a must for the chicken. My favourite braai salt is the BBQ salt with garlic made by marina. (The bright orange and purple plastic container available from every supermarket). As for braai sauce for your chops goes, there is nothing better than Jimmy’s braai sauce. Trust me on this one when I say, this stuff is legendary. Spar were the only stockists of it, but lately I have seen Pick ‘n Pay as well as Checkers start to stock it as well. There are a number of other sauces available – Steers, Spur, BBQ this, BBQ that, but they really don’t stand up to the great Jimmy sauce.

The Fire

Getting the coals at the right temperature is crucial. You don’t want burnt meat, but you also don’t want to run out of coals and have your chicken undercooked. A rule of thumb for those beginners is once your wood has turn into glowing orange and red coals, and you can hold your hand over the coals for about 2-3 seconds, you can start the braai.

The Braai’ing of the meat

Always start with the chicken as it takes the longest. It really is the weirdest thing, but chicken wings and drumsticks take surprisingly long relative to their size. Next you can slap on the chops, sosaties or whatever you having to braai. You can put everything on at the same time if you have the space, but as I say, get that chicken on first.

Sprinkle the spices onto the chicken on both sides. Don’t be shy with the braai salt. If using normal pepper and salt, I wouldn’t put too much salt on the chicken. Marinate the chops a couple of hours beforehand if possible, otherwise keep coating the chops with your sauce while they on the braai.

Remember to also keep turning the meat. You want the chicken to be golden brown all the way round, and the chops to look slightly crispy and juicy. If you not sure, use a steak knife and cut through the middle of the meats. Chicken must be slightly moist (no running juice) and your chops should be pink with no blood. Wors, which goes on last as it cooks the quickest, must not be pink inside, but brown.

Braai’ing a Snoek

Fish is a very tricky thing to braai, especially snoek. But the very best way I have found to have a moist and tasty snoek is to braai it in a foil jacket.

Also just as important is the sauce you must cook the snoek with. Take some lemon, lots of garlic, lots of butter and some apricot jam and cook in a pot on the stove. Keep stirring the sauce until everything has melted. Keep to one side while you make the foil jacket.

Create the foil jacket by taking a very large piece of foil, and placing the snoek in the one half of the foil. Pour all the sauce over the fish. Now fold the foil over the snoek until the bottom and top end touch. (Foil comes in long pieces, so take the bottom and top end of the long piece and fold in half.). Then take the edges and fold over and over until you create a packet of sorts. It must be completely airtight because once you put it on the grid which is over your coals, the packet will blow up like a balloon and the snoek will cook in the steam that the juices create. This gives the snoek a moist texture, which is exactly what you want. No one likes a dry snoek. Once the packet has blown up, it should take between 15-20 minutes until the snoek is cooked through. This my friends will win you many a braai contest.

The Other Things

Let your mates take care of the salads, breads and so forth. If you want to cook the garlic bread on the fire, that should take around 5 minutes. To see if its ready, take your tongs and press the bread from both sides. If it’s soft, its ready.

The Unsaid Rules Of The Braai

All guys have their way of doing things, and when its not your turn to braai, shut up and drink your beer. Offer to help, but if the braaier declines your offer, stay well away from his meat, unless he asks you to keep an eye on it while he pops inside to the toilet or to grab more spices and sauces. Also don’t offer your advice on how to braai, because you definitely won’t crack an invite the next time your mates decide to braai. Rather wait until its your turn to braai to show off your skills. Your mates will quickly pick up on your slick hands and meat handling which they will, in time, try out themselves. This is the only way that skills are transferred around the braai. The ONLY way.

I’m sure you okes have some tips as well, so please do share.

42 thoughts on “Jason’s Braai tips”

  1. Nice post , Jason, and I have shmaaked it.

    However, what’s this “Let the women take care of the salads, breads and so forth” shit? Why don’t you make the flippin’ salads? I suppose the women should take care of the clearing of the dishes and the washing up too? Grrrr.

  2. Ooo… a challenge! I’ll gladly accept and show all the wonderful women who visit my blog that I, too, can braai AND make a salad. ;-)

  3. “Let the women take care of the salads, breads and so forth”

    What’s wrong with that?
    They enjoy it and are good at it. No one is complaining :)

    Washing up? Yeah, they do that too usually.

    It’s just one of those femme things in our family; it might be different elsewhere, but not for us :)

  4. Hey all you fellow Jason Bagley Blog fans!
    I happen to know Jason REALLY well (not like that people…) as he is my rather dishy sister’s boyfriend. Thought I would just add my 75 cents worth about the braai thing.

    Jason was at first a terrible braaier – really bad! (sorry Jay) However he has become a bit of a fundi, I think he just picked up tips from all the good braaiers around (especially my husband Simon) and avoided the technique used by bad braaiers like some of our cousin’s husbands etc.. and put together his own style. I can now just sit back at one of Jason’s braais and know we will have devine meat in a little while.

    Jay – a pleasure to braai with you!


  5. Thanks Spollie!

    Ya, gotta admit I did learn most of my tricks from the legendary Simon Williams. ;-)

    I was pretty bad in the beginning, but I don’t think I was ever as bad as that cousin you are referring to! lol!

  6. Just before I get into trouble… this “infamous” braai that was so bad, only ever happened once… but it will never be forgotten! ;-)

  7. Hi there
    being a “rooinek” married to a “boertjie” there is a definite difference in culture. I grew up with the famous BRAAI being reserved for special occasions, whereas my spouse, from the Hex River Valley, enjoyed a braai every weekend. Now we have our own routine: Braai on Saturdays and Potjie every Sunday.

    Jimmy’s Sauce is great, and you may want to try some sauces available from the Fruit and Veg type places for a bit of a change. Some interesting flavours.

    I was also a hit and miss potjie maker and braaier, then I discovered Namibian wood, specifically Sekelhout. WOW. THis is MY secret to a good braai. Try it sometime.

    Whre there is fire there must be good beer, and here too I go for the Namibian brew. natural and lekker.

  8. I’ve gotta agree with you on the Namibian thing. I work for a Namibian company and whenever I am up there and we braai, the food is always top notch.

    The fact that they often have game meat on the braai also makes for an awesome meal!

  9. I preffer to braai my snoek open and without foil. Suppose its about personal taste but I try not to interfere to much with the snoek and keep it as natural as possible. My souce is olive oil in a cup (or Canola or sunflower) touch of salt, add garlic salt, bit of black pepper and the juice of a fresh lemon. Stirr and heat slightly in microwave. Paint the snoek as you braai it. not longer than 20 minutes depending on your heat. Less but not more. Enjoy!

  10. the most compact portable stainless steel braai you’ve ever encountered! Proudly made in SA in true love-braai tradition.

  11. I have to agree with Ramkat, the best braai snoek I ever had
    was done open and without foil. Got a tip from a fisherman the other day. He said to sprnkle you fresh snoek with coarse salt, rinse salt off after 20 minutes and pat fish with towel paper. Fish ready to braai. Baste your fish with your mixture (I prefer heated apricot jam, lotsa garlic, butter,lemon and fruit chutney)
    Georgeous !!

  12. Hi there,

    Good tips indeed, especially the unsaid rules of braaing. I had to braai for the first time for my girlfriends family and was quite under pressure. We were late, never had proper tools to make it easier like tongs etc, so I had to improvise. But what I liked was that her brothers never paid comment. That definitely helped ease the pressure!


  13. Hi Jason,

    I am a slow starter – I have never owned a braai before (got one 2 days before Christmas), but I wanted to be fancy and show off my non-existent braaing skills to my friends!

    So, I bought some snoek, googled ‘How to braai snoek’ and came across your site and I cannot thank you enough.

    I had a tough time deciding though, between whether to braai the snoek in a foil jacket or to do it open on the grill, so I decided to play it safe and do both.

    First I rubbed the snoek out with course salt, like Janine said and washed it off after 20 minutes.

    Then I put a flat sheet of foil on that closed grid thingy (the one that one can turn over – don’t know the name of it) and then I put the snoek on top of the foil – then I spooned all that delicious sauce (your recipe) over the snoek and put it on the braai, waited until I could smell the snoek and when it turned white – then I turned the whole lot over (with the snoek now facing down and grilled it like that for 5 minutes).

    Well, to say that it was delicious, must be the understatement of the century! It was tender and smoky and succulent.

    Thanks for the great advice – I will definitely use your site again and recommend it to friends.

  14. Hi tash, no it doesn’t have to blow up like a balloon, but it is better as all the steam trapped inside the foilbag then cooks the fish to perfection.

    Next time make sure that the foilbag is properly sealed. :-)

  15. Hi Jason
    We are selling Namibian braai wood. Sekelbos to be exact which is the most sold Namibian firewood at the moment. R35 per 20kg bag. Free delivery to Northern Suburbs in Cape Town. Minimum of 10 20kg bags and free delivery. Would appreciate it if you are able to spread the word round on your site. My numer is 0724100353 or people can order by emailing me at waynestander@live.com. Thanx alot J….

  16. Jason, dude, I live in Jhb (I know I know), and have for the past 6 years. From Milnerton in CT to Gauteng!!!!! I never braai’d a snoek in my 35 years in CT, came to Jhb, and now, whenever friends or family fly up, voila, I get a snoek or six. I have found that the coarse salt for 20 minutes works incredibly well, (a born and bred Gautenger told me this nogal) even when I’ve done this, then frozen the snoek for when friends aren’t flying up and I have to have my fix. It does it. I’ve done it in the foil packet and open, and they work equally well. My personal preference is open because of the smoky taste, which I enjoy, but like I said, a personal preference. Having said that, your way is flippin’ good too, and thanks for the tip. In fact, tomorrow being Saturday, and one snoek left in the freezer, guess what………

  17. Hi Jason. Excellent. Saturday was good. Fish tender, juicy and white. These Gautengers enjoyed no end. I’m trying to find a way to get a couple up here for Xmas. A few of our Guests for the day are Capetonians. Anybody have any ideas? Enjoy.

  18. Hi Jason,
    I would like to try out your snoek braai, and I was wondering whether I should put the snoek on the braai skin-side down or flesh-side down and if the snoek at any time be turned over and if so for how long. Please comment as I am having a snoek braai next week and I want the snoek to come out perfectly.

  19. Hey Matthys, after wrapping the snoek in the foil parcel, place it on the braai skin side down. You don’t have to turn the snoek as the heat and steam inside of the parcel will cook the fish perfectly – moist and juicy!

    Let me know how it goes this weekend!

  20. Hi Jason, I have been to the West Coast recently – try this! Snoek on the skin side 200mm and only a few coals (cold fire) the snoek take at least an hour to cook and you never turn it!! Use melted butter and garlic to paint it with – jaa I agree on the Kameeldoring and usually use coals from a fire on the side to ensure that the cooking gets done. The snoek will show it is getting there by small bubbles in the butter and a delicious smell, dont use foil underneath – put it just like it is on the rooster
    Groete Syd

  21. Hi Jason

    Awesome tips on the braai for snoek. One of my fave salads with this is a mango,chillie and coriander salad. Very easy and simple to make and loved by all. Dice some nice firm mango and add to that some chopped chillies of various colors and some roughly shopped coriander. Put in bowl and cover with cling film and put in fridge. The salad in very refreshing with the fish specially on those hot summer days in SA. Enjoy

  22. Hi guys !
    Yep, I also prefer to do a open braai with the skin side down and the meat side covered in sauce. I leave it on the skin side for 90% of the braai (no turning) and then just a few minutes on the meat side to finish it off. I’ve noticed that people use the foil to prevent the skin from getting stuck to the grill. What I do is to smeer the skin with normal cooking oil and it doesn’t stick to the grill then. Just make sure you do it in a head-to-tail direction to not get a ‘graat-in-die-vinger’. The coarse salt helps to freshens the snoek and is a must – beware not to leave it on too long.

  23. S.O.S.

    I know this is an old post but I need help! Having a snoek braai soon and haven’t a clue what side dishes to make with it. I need to SUPER impress.

  24. Hi Jason.
    Thanks for your reply. Actually the snoek braai turned out to be a HUGE success. The snoek was amazing and I served an odd (but winning) combination:
    – Veggie skewers in BBQ sauce
    – Freshly baked cheese potbread
    – Sweet potatoes (wrapped in foil and stuffed in the coals)
    – A weird and wonderful ‘paptert’ with bacon, cream and mushrooms
    – And for dessert: chocolate brownies with berry frozen yogurt.
    There was nothing left!!!!

  25. Thats sounds amazing. I can taste it…yummy. that paptert is def a winner to be tried soon. what a great SA tradition.

  26. thanks for the braai tips. Just something extra that I do with my chicken braai’s is that I braai longer on the bony side than the meaty side. I found that this get’s rid of the blood near the bones quicker.

    As far as snoek braai, My father actually gave me a tip to braai fish open braai and it was a hit. Open Snoek on the grill, silver side down toward coals. Keep it like this until the fish meat moves away from the fish bones, then it’s ready.


    Warieth Kamalie

  27. I forgot to add thanks for the great tips on braai length etc. You’ve got a great blog. And while I did braai and managed fine and the meat was delicious, if I don’t have to my husband can rather do it. But it’s nice to know I can now!

  28. Hi, I’m very much impress with ur blog I manage to read all your tips and comments. My hubby and I are preparing a new year eve snoek braai. we having a open snoek braai with stuffing( green yellow red peppers, avocado,onion rings, tomatoe). Season fish with cayenne pepper and braai salt then covered with mayonaise and chutney then fill fish with stuffing, closed fish and kept it together with string.
    Please advise what salad is best to do

  29. Hi Jason
    I have read your blog site on braai tips from top to bottom and its profoundly interesting.especially all the replies and comments.
    I have recently opened my own website and if there is any advice you can give i would appreciate.
    I sell excellent quality Namibian firewood all over Cape Town focusing on the northern subs.
    Come visit me with pleasure on site some day.

  30. Hi There. Tonight will be the first time I’m going to try and braai a Snoek. I’m not much of a seafood lover myself but the wife and the kids love it. Thanks for the advise – I feel like a pro already.

  31. Hi *

    Thanks for the tip on snoek braai, I just have a question.
    We are planning our first snoek braai for Mother’s day and have no idea what to make with it, can you suggest some side dishes, I can only think of bread and sweet potato.


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