Braai Tip: Smoke in the water

04 March 2015 - 02:00 By Siphiliselwe Makhanya

Liquid smoke sounds like a by-product of alchemy but some braai-masters love it.

Liquid smoke is water infused with wood smoke , and it imparts a distinctive smok y flavour to braaied meat.

Johannesburg software engineer Byron Parsons first heard of it in 2012 while trying out a recipe for Indian butter chicken.

He searched far and wide to obtain the elusive substance, and is now its South African distributor .

"The hickory and mixed hardwood is imported from the US, and the European beech is from Denmark. We get it in bulk and it is bottled here in South Africa," Parsons said.

The flavourant is created by burning wood chips to create smoke that fuses into the water droplets in a condenser.

"You get the purists who would not smoke their food any other way than in a smoker. They think liquid smoke is a cheat, but it's so easy to use and you get a great smoky flavour with very little effort.

"Also, you're no longer surrounding your food with smoke which can be carcinogenic ."

"The most popular flavour is hickory. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that it is the most familiar. It is used on hams, and bacons that are smoked the traditional way. The hickory does work really well on most meats but not really on fish and seafood. The most versatile is the European beech. It works well with everything from meat to dips and even desserts.

"Someone contacted me to let me know they added it to their sauvignon blanc to make sauvignon blanc fumé".

Parsons' highly concentrated product is available in 50ml and 100ml containers and retails from R33.