The healthy way to braai


Big braaiMonday is the Heritage Day, which South Africans usually spend around braai fires. That means it’s time for our annual healthy braai blog post, in which we try to persuade you to relinquish the usual braai fare (thick, juicy beef steaks) in favour of veggies.

Before you have a heart attack, we hurry to add that you may also have some chicken (the tasty, crunchy skin carefully removed) and fish (skin allowed). But we wrote about all that last year, so we urge you to re-visit the post entitled Hearty and healthy braai.

This time, let’s turn our attention to what health gurus say about the braai methods.

According to them, if you value your health, you’re not to do it, at least not to that enticing, slightly charred stage.

Experts say that cooking anything (healthy fare included; yes, even the veggies!) over high heat is bad, because it creates two known carcinogens, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs).

But, before you start clutching at your heart again, we hurry to add that experts will allow you to have your braai, providing you follow these steps:

  • Marinate. Fresh rosemary, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar go a log way towards fighting those nasty HCAs.
  • Microwave your fish and poultry (red meat, too, if red meat you must have) for a minute or two. The shorter subsequent grilling time will eliminate about 90% of HCAs, and you still get that inimitable braai flavour.
  • Place your food on aluminium foil to prevent dripping. The flare-ups that occur when fat or juices hit the embers produce PAHs on the underside of food.
  • Have lots of broccoli with your braai, because this amazing vegetable breaks down HCAs that still manage to slip through.

Just to soften the harshness of the method described above, we bring you this delicious half -healthy recipe: it’s chicken, it’s marinated (well, sort of), but it’s with the skin.

Perfectly braaied chicken wings

Crispy chicken wings in a sweet and sticky sauce are a real finger-licking delicacy. The problem is that marinate will blacken before you manage to crisp the skin. The solution is to braai the wings first, cover with the sauce, and then braai some more.

Here is how to do it.

For one to one and a half kilogram (12 to 18) chicken wings, make the sweet and sticky sauce by mixing half a cup (125ml) honey or golden syrup, half a cup tomato sauce, two spoons (25 to 30ml) apple juice, one spoon (15ml) soy sauce and one spoon paprika.

Braai the wings till the skin is crisp. Be sure to pull them open a bit, so than the skin is evenly exposed to the fire. (You may want to consider skewering them.) Braai for 20 minutes, turning often, until the wings are crisp and are almost ready.

Put the wings in a bowl, pour the sweet and sticky sauce over them and toss them around so that they are nicely coated. Then put them on the braai again for about 5 minutes, until the sauce is glazed.


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