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The secret to pickled fish

Pickled fish is an Easter staple. Picture supplied

Pickled fish is an Easter staple. Picture supplied

Published Apr 13, 2019


Pickled fish is an Easter staple and can be enjoyed as a meal on its own or with easily prepared sides. 

The simplest and most convenient sides are usually fresh bread or rolls, a light salad or hot cross buns - another Easter time favourite.

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Home cooks (and fish-lovers) will know that the best way to get the most out of your pickled fish, is to prepare it at least two days in advance and allow it to soak in the sauce.

Too much vinegar will leave you with a sour dish and too much spice will overpower the tangy flavour that makes for a great dish.

A good way to taste if your sauce is ready is by dipping a slice of dry bread into your sauce and doing a simple taste test.

It’s also important not to overcook, or under-cook, your onions. 

The onions are as important as the rest of the dish for the added flavour and for adding texture.

Most people prefer to use snoek, angelfish or kingklip because it holds well and does not break easily when dishing the fish.

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Whatever the reason (or excuse), chances are there is one person around the table who doesn’t eat pickled fish.

A piece of fish on the braai is a great alternative at this time of the year.

Show the non-pickled fish eater that you’ve made an effort by preparing a marinade that you’ve stored in the fridge a few days before Good Friday to use on the fish.

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Essential ingredients for any marinade are soy sauce, oil (preferably sesame seed oil) a touch of ginger, but be creative.

Pickled Fish with Spicy Malay Butter Roti



- 2 Tbsp. olive oil

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- 4 large onions, sliced

- 1 x 5cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated

- 6 cloves garlic, crushed

- 1 ½ Tbsp Garam masala powder 

- 2 tsp freshly grated turmeric or ground turmeric

- 2 sprigs fresh bay leaves or lemon leaves

- 1 tsp allspice powder

- 1 tsp ground coriander 

- 1 tsp ground cumin

- 750ml white vinegar

- 2 cups water

- 250 g brown sugar

- 2 kg kingklip fillets, cut into large cubes

- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

- Seasoned flour, for dusting

- 2 cups canola oil, for frying

- 1 Tbsp. Cape Malay spice mix

- 100g salted butter

- 8 rotis, toasted in a pan

- 2 green apples, sliced

- 2 chillies, sliced

- Pickled cabbage or sauerkraut, to serve

- Micro coriander leaves, to serve


- Heat olive oil in a Le Creuset 22cm Signature Round Casserole over a medium heat and soften the onions. Add the ginger, garlic and spices and fry until fragrant.

- Stir in the vinegar, water and sugar, and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes over a low heat. Meanwhile, dust the fish with the seasoned flour and fry in batches in another casserole with hot canola oil, until lightly browned and tender.

- Add the fish to the reduced pickling sauce. Make sure the fish is covered by the sauce and leave to marinate and pickle for a day or two. Make a Malay spice butter by toasting 1 Tbsp. Cape Malay spice mix in a dry pan, then add 100g of butter to melt into the spices.

- Serve the pickled fish with Cape Malay butter wrapped in a warm roti with plain yoghurt, pickled chilli, red cabbage and sliced crunchy apples with micro greens to garnish.

Recipe by Le Creuset

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