Noble Savage (he said):
Ah, the humble Vetkoek. Staple to many, cause of oil burn wounds to some. At some stage, we’ve all had some sort of variation of the vetkoek, be it at a school sports event, or trying not to catch fire at a church bazaar. And apparently, the 30th of August is National Vetkoek day, and what better way to celebrate than to play around with a few classics.
Many nationalities have some sort of deep fried dough, notably Johnny Cakes in the Caribbean, and Oliebollen in the Netherlands. Locally, vetkoek is traditionally served with a curry mince filling. I’m not the biggest fan of curry mince, so decided to rather combine my vetkoek with another local staple: the Gatsby.
For the vetkoek, you’ll need:
500g cake flour
20ml baking powder
500ml warm milk
Oil for frying
For the filling, you’ll need:
300g – 400g good quality steak
1 tsp cumin
1 – 2 tsp curry powder (I used hot, but any variant can be used)
A few dried chilli flakes
2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
Chips, prepared as per package instruction (I prefer fried, but oven baked will also work)
Onions and lettuce, for garnish
This is one of the easiest vetkoek recipes I could find, courtesy of Rhodes. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together the eggs and milk, and then whisk this into the dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth and thick. Once your oil is ready (a small bit of dough should start bubbling in the oil), ladle your dough into the oil and fry until golden. Drain on some kitchen towel, and you’re done! Note: This is quite a dense and heavy vetkoek – you can actually just take a shortcut and just use store-bought dough as well, if you prefer the more traditional, made-with-yeast version.
Mix all the spices with the olive oil, and cover the steak with this paste. You can either pop it on the braai, or in a cast iron griddle pan. Cook the meat to your liking, and let it rest for at least 5 minutes. Once rested, cut the steak into thin strips.
While this is going on, fry your onions in a bit of oil until soft and translucent. If you want to add a bit of crunch, you can lightly coat them in flour and shallow fry. Once your onions are done, you’re ready to build your Gatsby.
I start with lettuce to protect the bottom from becoming soggy (you can also just toast your vetkoek). Then some chips, and onions on top of that. Finally top it all with your steak strips. Viola! A quick and easy South African dinner for when you feel all patriotic. Happy eating!