Pickled fish. Picture: Steve Lawrence
Pickled fish. Picture: Steve Lawrence

RECIPE: Get cooking, it's time for pickled fish

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Apr 8, 2020

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Easter weekend is almost here, and what better way to celebrate than indulging in a delicious pickled fish dish? 

Pickled fish is an all-time South African favourite, and it is a wonderful reflection of the mixed heritage of the Cape, as it is a Malaysian-inspired dish that became synonymous with the Christian celebration of Good Friday.

According to 'Cape Malay Cooking Delights', pickled fish dates back to when there were no refrigerators and different means were used to preserve food. They say that any firm-fleshed fish can be used to make this delectable dish, and that yellowtail and snoek are the most common fish used when making pickled fish.

Here is a recipe that you can try at home this Easter holiday by Angela Day.

Pickled fish. Picture: Steve Lawrence

Serves: 8


125ml flour

Salt and white pepper

1.5kg firm white fish fillets, sliced into serving portions

Oil for frying


1kg onions, sliced into thick rings

375ml water

30ml curry powder

125ml brown sugar

1cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

3 bay or lemon leaves

5ml ground coriander

6 black peppercorns

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

500ml good-quality vinegar

15ml cornflour mixed with 30ml water


Season flour with salt and pepper. Dip fish fillets into seasoned flour, coating both sides.

Preheat oil and fry fish on both sides until golden brown and cooked. Place on absorbent paper to cool.

For the sauce, boil onion rings in water for 3 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients except cornflour. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Mix cornflour with water and add to onion and curry mixture.

Simmer, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes. Arrange fish and onion-curry sauce in layers in a large dish.

Marinate covered in the refrigerator for 3 days before serving.

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