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Bokkoms – My dad and his Joseph Rogers!

Posted on November 22, 2013 by in seafood

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Bokkoms is a well-known delicacy  from the West Coast! It is a whole, salted and dried mullet or better known to us as the Harder! You could say it is our version of anchovies!

Bokkoms are often refer to as fish biltong , but what I did not know is how bokkoms got its name……. what and interesting story! Not in a million years would I have guessed it had something to do with goats….read it, fascinating fact!


To me, bokkoms come with a whole chapter filled with childhood memories, food memories …. dad memories! Let me tell you about my dad! My dad is a “boerseun”, he grew up on a farm and although he never had the opportunity to farm he has a passion and respect for anything Mother Nature has to offer. My dad drinks his coffee black, he hunts, he braais, just about anything a boerseun ought to do! My dad also carries a pocket knife…..and not just any pocket knife, a  Josef Rogers!

My dad and his pocket knife are inseparable.As long as I remember, my dad has carried a pocket knife and whether we stopped for padkos, a wheel needed fixing, a bandage needed cutting, the Joseph Rogers and Dad always made a plan. I think  the Joseph Rogers is a pretty good pocket knife, but in my father’s hands it was just always better, because……


My father builds……..

My father can build just about anything, from beds and book shelves in the most hideous colors while we were small, floats and decor for carnivals and students balls to shelves and cupboards when we finally decided to grow up! More importantly though, my father builds families and communities and relationships because he allows God to work through him doing wonders…. almost just like his Joseph Rogers!

My father fixes and mends ……..

My father always has a plan. I have memories of my father fixing our bicycle tyres using old kitchen spoons.  When we were too poor for air-conditioning, my father made a plan, using a piece of hosepipe and an old fashioned sprinkler and made our own, most efficient roof cooling system, defying the intense Ceres heat. We never thought we were poor, but our dad was our hero! My father also fixes and mends hearts, human hearts, our hearts! Never, ever with great fanfare or  big gestures, but the simple knowledge that my father will ALWAYS be there for us, mended our broken hearts!


My father plans …….

My father does nothing without his dairy and my mom’s incredible memory to remember stuff! If you ask my dad anything, his first answer will always be, “let me get to my dairy or let me ask Mom!” He believes firmly that God is a God of order and lives by that. People are often amazed by just how much my dad can fit into one day, but because he has a plan, he works towards a goal everyday, even now that they have retired. I admire that. My dad plans to visit the sick, comfort the bereaved and helps those with broken hearts and because he always asks God for HIS approval, his plans seldom fail!

My father loves ……..

My father has this incredible capacity to love people and people LOVE him! While at school and varsity, my friends always used to say I have a hug-able dad! I am very proud of that! I think people feel safe with my dad! I know I feel safe with my dad! My father serves God in his fellow man and therefor he sees and finds love wherever he goes! My father loves, good food, nature, animals, farming, wood, my mom, his children and of course…… his Joseph Rogers!


My father makes time …..

My father makes time and by that I literally mean, he makes time! He makes more time for important things, by putting systems in place to sort out the little things. My father NEVER looks for stuff, because his stuff is never missing. He believes that there is a place for everything and everything has its place! It is this quality that brings me to bokkoms and my father’s Joseph Rogers. My father plans and works while the suns shines and at night when he goes to bed, he takes his used handkerchief of the day and places it on his bedside table. On this hanky, he puts his wallet, the few silver coins he had in his pocket and his Joseph Rogers. By this simple, insignificant( only to us) action my father says so much…. He says…….

– I’ve done my best God, will you please take care of me and my possessions while I sleep.

– In case of an emergency, I can just stretch out my hand and find the essentials, and

-if I wake up tomorrow morning and my “stuff” is still where I have left it, I will thank God for another day to try and serve Him best.

Thank you dad for this incredible legacy you live!

Whilst growing up, there were always a few bunches of bokkoms hanging in our garage. During Snoek season, my father and his brothers would take trips up the West Coast to fetch snoek, patat and always a few bunches of bokkoms. The bokkoms,  always the snack before the big snoek braai.  I see my dad placing the bokkoms on the warm coals for a few minutes. This loosens the skin and then with his Joseph Rogers, my dad will peel away the skin to reveal the salty, moreish flesh! With a slice of bread, farm butter and a mug of black coffee, my dad was/is a rich man!

Yesterday when I drove passed a vendor selling bokkoms, I thought of my dad and bought two bunches.  I hope I get to see the Joseph Rogers in action once more!


Bokkoms on bread


1 bunch West Coast Bokkoms

farm butter

salt and pepper

Joseph Rogers Knife


Place the bokkoms on warm coals or in the oven for a few minutes. Use a knife to remove the head and tail and then carefully pull of the skin. Remove the bones and place on a slice of buttered brown bread!


 My Father and his Joseph Rogers!

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4 Responses to “Bokkoms – My dad and his Joseph Rogers!”

  1. Cathy 22 November 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Such special memories… tell your life stories so well!
    He really is a special man. “bumped” into him today co-incidently and he is just as you say he is.

  2. Albe 25 November 2013 at 7:57 am #

    Wow!! Wat ‘n voorreg om dit kon lees. Geniet jou pa, hulle is so kosbaar.

  3. Annelize van Rooyen 26 November 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    I think the pocket knife is such a big part in our history. My dad, mom, grandma all ha their own favourite pocket knife. Usually they have been sharpened so many times that the blade is remarkably thin!
    My husband’s last gift from his mom was a Joseph Rodgers. A few years later I bought him a brand new one, only because he was so sentimentally attached to the other one that he didn’t want to use it! Now how was he supposed to cut his Biltong?!

  4. Sr Maritsa van der Westhuyzen 29 November 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    I just read through your beautiful blog about “Oupa” and all I can do is smile, wiping away a tear from my eye. What a privilege to have been able to share in a couple of these moments with him. To also have him as part of my life for the past 25 years. As your quote says, “He does not tell you how to live,he does it and lets you watch him do it” – By this we have also followed in his golden footsteps. Sometimes we become weak but all we have to do is look at his life and we’ll find strength in his deeds. Thank you for sharing your beautiful stories about your beautiful parents. You truly have always been rich beyond comprehension! Love and regards to you all! PS: Maar ek weet nogsteeds nie of ek een van daai goete sal kan eet nie! Dalk met ons volgende besoekie!

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