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Cleaning and cooking sheep head

A sheep head meal

May 4, 2021 2 min read

2 min read

BOTHA-BOTHE - Sheep head, popularly known as skopo or smiley is a common street food in Lesotho also favoured by most African men. The term also refers to the head of a cow or goat.

Liphaphang Foko of Botha-Bothe, is one of many people who are crazy about smiley.

In fact, people who consume his sheep head dishes affectionately call him, "Ntate mohlare oa nku" (Mr Sheep-jaw). 

He is hailed as the champion of cooking smiley meals in Botha-Bothe.

The former taxi driver says what makes the best smiley-eating experience is the soft meat and the adventure is in looking for it. 
One might not necessarily appreciate the beauty of eating smiley in the streets, but many claim it is good for getting rid of a debilitating hangover. Some love its ears, tongues and especially the brain, while others just enjoy the skin.  

According to Foko who has been preparing and selling sheep heads in the developing town of Botha-Bothe for the past 10 years, the best smiley meat is cooked on an open fire and tastes even better when served cold with some warm papa.

The four steps he takes to perfect his craft in the kitchen as he prepares his extra-ordinary sheep are as follow:

Step 1: Scorching

Using a paraffin burner, he burns the head and removes the fur. The head is first shaved with a sharp instrument like a razor to remove the skin and other unwanted parts. There should be no traces of hair on the smiley after the scorching. 

Step 2: Cleaning

He then cleans the head using a pot scrubber and uses a clean cloth in-between to remove the grime.

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After the scraping and wiping, he washes it thoroughly with soap and water to remove all the remaining grease and dirt.
Step 3:  Cutting and Cooking
He then cuts up the thoroughly cleaned head into four pieces using a medal saw.

The cooking process begins and it is done outside in a big cast iron pot. The smiley is cooked in boiling water and only salt is added to it.  

The head is cooked until it is nice and tender then it is allowed to cool off. It is then well covered to protect it from flies.

Step 4:  Adding Flavour

This stage is optional as the customer is normally asked whether or not they want to add some spice to the cold meat.

The smiley is then served, and at Ntate mohlare oa nku's kitchen, it is wrapped in clean newspapers.

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