Traditional Cape Malay Pickled Fish

If there’s one dish that’s synonymous with the Easter holidays, it’s traditional Cape Malay pickled fish. The serving of this dish on Easter Friday is a uniquely South African tradition, dating back centuries. 

Serves 8

55 min

Traditional Cape Malay Pickled Fish

If there’s one dish that’s synonymous with the Easter holidays, it’s traditional Cape Malay pickled fish. The serving of this dish on Easter Friday is a uniquely South African tradition, dating back centuries. 

Serves 8

55 min

Traditional Cape Malay Pickled Fish

If there’s one dish that’s synonymous with the Easter holidays, it’s traditional Cape Malay pickled fish. The serving of this dish on Easter Friday is a uniquely South African tradition, dating back centuries. 

Serves 8

55 min


The origin of this custom is a bit of a mystery, but one theory is that Western Cape fishing boats did not go out over Easter weekend, making the preserving of fish a necessity in the days before electricity — and fridges.

The perfect Easter recipe

Whatever the original reason for making this dish, the recipe has spread from its Cape Malay roots to become popular amongst all cultural groups across the country. In fact, for many families, it’s hard to imagine the Easter holidays without traditional pickled fish. And although pickled fish lasts up to six weeks when refrigerated, it seldomly lasts past the first day or two. In fact, some families even have to put a limit on servings in one sitting or hide some it at the back of the fridge for the rest of the weekend.

Easy to make at home

Traditionally, Cape Malay pickled fish is served with hot cross buns and fresh bread, but it goes down well with just about any side. Many high-end restaurants have even incorporated this once humble dish into their gourmet menus. But if you ask ordinary South Africans where you’ll find the best pickled fish in the world, the answer is pretty unanimous: at home in the family kitchen. And although most families have their regular resident pickled fish expert, there’s no reason why someone else can’t also try their hand. You might even want to introduce the dish to your family and friends, if for some inexplicable reason, they’re not already familiar with it.

Feeling inspired to give it a go? Our quick and easy traditional pickled fish recipe will enable you to prepare this winning dish and be the guaranteed hero of the household.


Ingredients

5                      Onions
 
4 Cloves of garlic  
1 5cm Piece of ginger  
5 tbsp. Curry powder  
2 tbsp. Tumeric  
6 Bay leaves  
1 tbsp. All spice  
1 tbsp. Coriander powder  
1 tbsp. Cumin powder
 
1L White vinegar  
2kg Kingklip  
300g Sugar  
  Black Pepper  
Served with a basic salad & rice:  
   
1          Bag of lettuce  
1 Punnet of cherry tomatoes  
1 Cucumber  
1 Tub of feta cheese  
1 Small bag of rice  

Method

  1. In a stainless steel saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. oil and, when hot, gently sauté the onion until translucent.
  2.  
  3. Add the ginger, garlic and spices and fry gently for a few minutes, or until fragrant.
  4.  
  5. Add the vinegar and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  6.  
  7. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a heavy-based frying pan and when hot, fry the fish until golden, but still succulent.
  8.  
  9. Place a layer of fish in a deep sterile glass or non-metallic container and pour a little of the hot sauce over it to cover. Continue layering fish and sauce until all the fish is covered.
  10.  
  11. Put into console glass jars for easy servings.
  12.  
  13. Refrigerate 2 days for that delicious pickled flavour.
  14.  
  15. Enjoy.