Jan Hendrik shares a trio of favourite recipes from his past

Jan Hendrik shares a trio of favourite recipes from his past
Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen. (Photo: Jenna Lemmer | collage Tony Jackman)

Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen stepped away from the kitchen this week to choose a trio of his recipes to share with TGIFood readers.

Everyone in the business says that our most famous human culinary export, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, is a truly nice guy, and this was evidenced by his super-swift response when we asked him to take part in our Cook with the Chefs series.

We’ve all watched his journey from a distance (others doubtless up close) as he opened a restaurant in the country that is the home of gastronomy, France (in the Mediterranean city of Nice) and attained Michelin star status in seemingly no time at all. Yet, we soon discovered that his South African roots were firmly intact. Today, he is as much a part of the local culinary fabric as karringmelkbeskuit.

I was pretty sure that the recipe (or recipes, it turns out) that Jan would share with us would be something humble and simple from his childhood. Despite his stellar climb to the top, it is clear that he has remained grounded, and anyone who was brought up with buttermilk rusks and his ma’s chocolate mousse is always going to have time for those lovely things.

No surprise whatsoever then when he delivered a recipe for pumpkin buttermilk rusks (yes, karringmelkbeskuit), as well as his mother’s recipe for chocolate mousse. To round things out nicely, he also included something more challenging, a dish called Salmon in a Garden, which reads as fresh, zingy and worthy of a fine dinner table.

Of the trio of favourite recipes he selected for us, Jan says: “They are all part of some funny story or a connection from my past. But most importantly, they are delicious … And no chef’s or cook’s story should beat deliciousness.”

Pumpkin Buttermilk Rusks

Pumpkin buttermilk rusks. (Photo: Hanfred Rauch)

Time: 1.5 hours + drying overnight | Makes: about 36 pieces

For the pumpkin purée:

500g diced pumpkin

For the rusks:

1kg (1,800ml) self-raising flour

5ml Kalahari salt

500g (540ml) butter, cut into cubes

400g (500ml) sugar

250ml buttermilk

250ml pumpkin purée

2 eggs

pumpkin seeds

For the pumpkin purée:

Steam or boil the pumpkin until soft. Place into a food processor and blend to a smooth purée. Measure off 250ml of the purée and freeze the rest for your next batch of rusks. 

For the rusks:

Heat the oven to 180°C. Line the base of a 40x30cm baking tray with baking paper. Spray the tray with edible non-stick food spray. You can alternatively use two 18x12cm bread tins.

Place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. 

Add the sugar and mix. 

In a separate bowl, beat the buttermilk, pumpkin purée and eggs together. Add this to the flour mixture and mix well. Spoon into your prepared baking tray. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top. Place into the oven and bake for 30–40 minutes if you are using a baking tray. If you are using bread tins, your rusks will need to bake for 1 hour. Test with a cake tester to make sure your rusks are cooked in the centre. Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the baking tray or bread tin for about 15 minutes before turning out. Leave to cool completely before cutting into blocks. 

Heat your oven to 100°C. Place the soft rusks onto baking trays and place in the oven overnight. Place a wooden spoon in the door to keep it slightly open. Once the rusks have dried out, store them in an airtight container. 

Salmon in a Herb Garden

Salmon in a herb garden. (Photo: Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen)

Time: 30 minutes | Serves: 6


3 portions salmon fillet

sea salt and ground pepper

15ml extra virgin olive oil

200ml coconut milk

1 avocado

Juice of 3 limes

15ml white balsamic vinegar (optional)

10ml fish sauce

5ml granulated sugar

3ml green Tabasco sauce

1 bunch each fresh coriander, mint, chives and dill

100ml cream cheese

10ml wasabi paste

1 Granny Smith apple, sliced with a mandoline into very thin circles or into thin “sticks”

1 bulb fresh fennel, sliced very thinly with a mandoline

50g fish eggs or caviar (optional)


Cut the salmon into portions small enough for a starter or larger if doing a main course. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized nonstick pan and sear the salmon quickly, 10-15 seconds per side. It must still be pink in the centre. Dry on paper towels and place in a container in the fridge until needed. 

In a blender, combine coconut milk, avocado, lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, Tabasco sauce and herbs. Blend until the mixture is smooth and the herbs are blended in. Season with salt and pepper and adjust flavour. Refrigerate until needed. 

In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese and wasabi together and season to taste. 

To serve, pour some coconut herb sauce in the centre of each plate and top with a portion of the salmon. Arrange freshly picked herbs in and around the salmon. Garnish with the apple and fennel slices and add a dollop of wasabi cream topped with fish eggs. 

My Mother’s Chocolate Mousse

Jan Hendrik’s mom’s chocolate mousse. (Photo: Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen)

Time: 15 minutes + 3 hours setting time in the fridge | Serves: 4


200g dark chocolate

300g pink and white marshmallows

2 x 425ml cans evaporated milk, 1 can chilled


Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a large glass bowl with the marshmallows. Pour 1 can of evaporated milk over the mixture and microwave on medium heat, stirring every 2–3 minutes so the chocolate does not burn. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the chilled can of evaporated milk until frothy and stiff. 

Using a metal spoon, fold the melted chocolate and marshmallow mixture into the beaten evaporated milk. Be sure not to overmix as it needs to stay light and fluffy. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving. DM

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido. Order his book, foodSTUFF, here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.


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