BRAAIbeeQ sauce, for all of your smothering needs

In many ways, South African and American cuisine are very similar. An example of a similar tradition in both food cultures, is the barbecue, or the braai in South Africa. Depending on where one is from in the States, the barbecue is perhaps important, but I would venture that many Americans, at least in the upper Midwest, would not describe BBQ as a central aspect of their cuisine. I know that the story of BBQ may be different for Americans from the South, but either way; for many (if not most) South Africans, the braai is an integral, even a central dimension of South African cooking. So integral, in fact, that many affluent South Africans opt to build a “braai room” in their house, and will even prepare dinner several nights a week on their braai. For the more average South Africans, the braai is perhaps less elaborate, yet no less important.

This is barely even the tip of the iceberg in terms of the depth of braai culture, but suffice to say that the centrality of this tradition has a gigantic consumer industry attached to it, which includes endless marinades, rubs, seasonings, and sauces for all braai tastes. In the midst of such limitless possibilities of braai accessories, there lurk a number of sauces which are completely South African and just so happen to share the same name as the quintessentially American “BBQ sauce.” Unfortunately for me, the only way to know is obviously to taste these “impostors” in order to discover that the name “BBQ sauce” is clearly only a literal description for sauces which one applies to foods which have been barbecued. Because of this, I have been compelled to develop my own recipe for BBQ sauce, because Jimmy and Durky just weren’t cutting it.

BRAAIbeeQ sauce 

Yield: about 750ml (about 3 cups)

  • 1 cup (about 230ml) tomato paste*
  • 3 cups water (about 750ml)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbs hot mustard
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes, or 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp beef stock powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 onion, finely minced or grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


Combine tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and mustard in a saucepan until thoroughly mixed. Then add remaining dry ingredients, followed by the water. Heat mixture until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat and allow the mixture to gently simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until thickened, when the consistency reaches that of, well; BBQ sauce. Use this sauce for all of your BRAAIbeeQing; as a marinade, as a basting sauce, with pulled pork or chicken, smothered on some wings, or however you condiment.




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