RECIPE: Sheep tails / “skaapstertjies”

Updated: Feb 26

This is one of my favourite things to work with and to cook. Make sure that you understand that I use sheep’s tails, not lamb tails. Lamb tails are too small and for the effort not worthwhile. You can approach this delicacy from a few different angles.



As kids and from my father’s recollection, I know that my grandma used to make a “bredie” with them. Cooked in a pressure cooker until falling off the bone and then mixed with cooked and finely diced green beans for the “boontjie bredie”.


She would also pot them, almost like confit duck, by slowly rendering the fat from the tails until the tails were covered in the fat, then add cloves, and whole nutmeg before the heat was turned down and the sheep tails will slowly simmer in their own fat until soft and golden. The sheep tails are then neatly packed in glass jars. She would add some sage and clove and then cover all with the warm fat from the cooking process.


It was always a great joy when she opened one of those jars with the fresh “semel brood” that came out of the oven. It became a party snack in our family and extended family. Almost always we had sheep tails with every braai opportunity. Slowly cooked over an open wood fire till rendered and crispy, with lemon and BBQ spice. Not a lot of braai snacks will come close to a perfectly cooked sheep tail.


My brother had a good supply of sheep tails and of good quality. He supplied everyone with sheep tails, already trimmed of the excess fat and spiced with BBQ spice.


All kind of recipes and methods were tried with the sheep tails. His favourite method is to boil the tails with some herbs and spices till the meat is soft and the fat is rendered. The tails are then dusted or double coated with egg and flour and fried till crispy. He serves it with his interpretation of nuoc cham sauce “much better than the real nuoc cham” he will always say.

I must admit that it really is something special and surely not a dish and taste that you will get anywhere. How to create a recipe that will entice people to try a dish of sheep tails has always been one of my ambitions. I have done sheep tails at our restaurant on many occasions and in many ways. Let start with the preparation of sheep tails.


Try and find some good quality sheep tail from your butcher. The bigger the better and don’t be bothered about the fat. A serving of 3 tails will be enough for a starter portion.


Asian style Lamb tail snack (Serves 3) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6 lamb tails, trimmed and scored.

To prepare the lamb tails. Boil the lamb tails in lightly salted water with a piece of celery, leek and carrot. Add some cinnamon, black pepper and cloves to the pot when it starts to boil. Boil for 1 hour depending on the size of the tail. Check regularly to make sure it’s not too soft. It is done when you can feel the meat starting to become soft.


Remove the tails from the water, dry the tails and refrigerate. When the tails are cold and nicely set. Dust them with a little seasoned flour. It should be lightly coated. Now fry the tails in 170-degree oil till golden brown and crispy.


Remove into a mixing bowl. Spoon some of the chilli and lime dipping sauce into the bowl and mix to coat the tails evenly.


Garnish with fresh chilli, coriander, and lime.


Chilli and lime dipping sauce ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1tbs roasted rice (cracked in a pestle and mortar to a powder) 2tsp chilli powder 1 tbs fish sauce 4 tbs lime juice 2 tbs chopped green onions 2tbs finely chopped coriander 1 clove garlic finely chopped 2 tbs fine sugar 6 tbs Water


Method: Combine all the ingredients together and mix well. Now add little water at a time to get your desired consistency.


#kokkedoor #lamb #lambtails #freestatefoodie #alwaysfresh #wellseasoned


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