Step by Step Guide to Cleaning and Cooking Skopo (Sheep’s Head) at Home

A friend of mine, Thabo, is crazy about Skopo, infact he calls himself a connoisseur Skoposseur.   He knows all the Skopo joints in Cape Town and in Joburg.  In his opinion what makes the best Skopo eating experience is meat that is soft and the adventure is in having to look for it.   In other words, uyaskhendla yena iSkopo ~ he tears it apart.  One would not understand the Skopo craze but in the townships it is loved and some refer to it as babalaas (hangover) food.  Some love the ears, tongue etc.  I just love the crunchiness of the ears.  My brother broke one of my knives trying to get to the brain.

So I asked Thabo, the self proclaimed Skoposseur to take me to the best Skopo joint in Cape Town.  According to him, the best Skopo is cooked and sold by a group of guys in Khayelitsha.  We drove to the joint, it is situated on the side of the street.  The guys were still setting up when we got there.   But hey, I was rolling with a Skoppsseur, we drove to a joint in Kraaifontein.  They don’t make the best Skopo, but if the craving has spoken one can give them a go.  The ladies at the Kraaifontein were kind enough to give us a breakdown of their process and they let me take pictures.  For some reason they were amused by the whole experience.

Step 1: Scorching

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Scorch it to no decimal point.  The ladies are currently using a paraffin burner which they fill up and scotch about ten heads until the next refill.  They put the head on a wooden log, turn the head around with one hand while the other hand is holding the scorcher.

There should be no traces of hair on the Skopo after scotching.  They need to look somewhat like this…

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Step 2: Cleaning

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They are cleaned using a “pot skryver”.  Once again, the wooden log is used to support  the Skopo.  A cloth is used in-between to remove some of the grime.

After the scraping and wiping, the Skopo looks like in the picture below.  They are then washed to remove all the grease and dirt.

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Step 3:  Cutting and Cooking

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The cleaned up Skopo is then cut into half lengthwise using an axe.  The cooking process begins and it is done outside in big cast iron pots.  The ladies have at least one guy allocated to this task.  He tends to the fire and oversees the cooking process.  Skopo is cooked in boiling water and only salt is added to it.   It is then cooked until tender then set aside.  The ladies cover up the cooked Skopo to protect it from flies.


Step 4:  Adding Flavour

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In Xhosa we say “hamba uzobona” which means go somewhere or travel and you’ll see something new.   That’s the case when it comes to this step.  The ladies at the Kraaifontein Skopo Joint apply an orange looking spice to the cooked Skopo.  However, this stage is optional as the customers are asked whether they would like to have it or not.   The Skopo is then served, but in this case it was wrapped in newspapers.

Get more flavoursome Skopo recipes here and here.

Now I would like to hear from you….Do you know anyone who is a Skoposseur? Do you have a favourite Skopo Joint in your area?  What is your favourite part to eat in a Skopo?

About Author


Thuli Gogela is a Food Technologist with 8 years of experience developing products in food manufacturing. She is dedicated to discovering wholesome traditional dishes and recipes with a distinctive taste from different parts of the African continent. Thuli is well known for her food blog, Mzansi Style Cuisine which was established in 2010. She saw a gap in the traditional food market that people were hungry for. From there, it didn’t take long to build her brand. In 2013, she started writing a recipe column for the Cape Times for and has collaborated with some of the biggest brands in South Africa namely, Knorr, Nedeburg Wines, First Choice and Spekko rice. Not only does Thuli feature traditional African dishes, she’s also open to developing recipes, food consultations and brand collaborations.

Comment ( 1 )

  • Makhosonke

    Thank you hope I can invite you to my food chillas one of the good days so you can have me on your articles.

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