Rib Eye Steak on the Braai/BigGreenEgg using Kameeldoring Wood
Well the sun has decided that it’s not going to shine again this year, or so it seems, but we keep on braaiing. This week I have decided to do something a little different and instead of cooking a new recipe I’m going to braai with some new wood that we have just received from back home, which we are selling on our web site. It’s been over 30 years since I have braaied with this type of wood and I thought it would be great to review what it’s like, or if it makes any difference to the taste of what you are cooking. I’m going to cook a plain “Black Gold Rib Eye Steak” which we sell. I will season with a little sea salt and freshly ground Black Pepper and that’s it but I’m “braaiing” it over some Kameeldoring wood, which hopefully will make some difference!
The common name is Camel Thorn and is loosely translated from the Afrikaans name “Kameeldoring” and comes from kameelperd (giraffe). As early South African settlers gave the tree the name “Kameeldoring” (giraffe thorn) because Giraffes are the trees best friends. They have adapted tongue and lips that can cope with the vicious thorns and high branches and they choose it as one of their favourite foods. The tree can grow up to 17 metres high and its name refers to the fact that giraffe commonly graze on the harder to reach succulent leaves, normally out of reach of smaller animals.
Kameeldoring burns with minimal flame, has an aromatic fragrance and creates serious amounts of charcoal. This is superb cooking wood and is perfect for the braai, as it has an exceptionally long burn time! The wood is dark reddish-brown in colour and extremely dense and strong. It is slow growing, very hardy to drought and fairly frost-resistant. This firewood has extremely low moisture content and possibly the lowest of any firewood in the world. It is baked by the African sun to between 0 to 1 % moisture content! (compare this to domestic air dried woods at around 30% and domestic kiln dried wood at around 18 - 20%!). This makes the wood great fuel for fires, which has lead to widespread clearing of dead trees and the felling of healthy trees and as a result they are now protected in South Africa.
In fact the National Forests Act of 1998 states that:
Forest trees or protected tree species may not be cut, disturbed, damaged or destroyed and their products may not be possessed, collected, removed, transported, exported, donated, purchased or sold - except under licence granted by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (or a delegated authority).
Our Kameeldoring firewood is responsibly cropped with governmental co-operation with local landowners and farmers.
To light the wood all I used was a couple of the natural fire starters from the BigGreenEgg, immediately I was transported back to SA. That distinctive smell of Africa burst out of the flames and I was standing back on the beach in Cape Town around the braai with my cousins. That smoke was just mesmerising bringing back so many happy memories of my early days as a kid growing up in Joburg and spending my holidays down in the Cape with all the family.
It took about 25 minutes for it to burn down to that great white ash that just says “it’s braai time” on went the steaks and in just 6-8 minutes they were ready and on the plate. Man, it took all of my self discipline not to cut into them straight away, always leave your meat to rest for at least 5mins before you eat. The wood had slightly smoked the meat with a distinctive flavour that is hard to describe but it just shouts AFRICA to me. Once again it brought back all the memories of cooking in the sun on the beach with this special wood that is just so different to anything else you can buy or find anywhere in the world. I’m definitely going to use this when I can, or for long as we have stock!
For full instructions on how to cook the perfect steak, watch this video, which I made back last year. However this was using BigGreenEgg charcoal which is the best charcoal that I have come across in the UK, the times for cooking will be the same, it’s just the flavour that will be so different..
If you would like to win a pack of this Kameeldoring wood along with some firelighters to start your own braai just leave some comment below and we will draw, at random, a lucky winner to receive this great prize. Entries are only open to UK mainland residents due to export restrictions I am afraid but don’t let this stop you leaving your points of view. Entries will close on the 8th June 2013, please check back to see if you were the lucky winner.