Cape Malay Pickled Fish Recipe


Pickled fish predates refrigeration, when people had to find ways to preserve food. Popular in South Africa, in the Cape it’s often referred to as “Kaapse Kerrievis” (Cape Curried Fish). Pickled fish is a great dish to make in advance when you don’t have time for cooking. Many Capetonians eat pickled fish at Easter time although the origin of this tradition is unknown.


Recipe by: GOLD Restaurant
Serves: 8 – 10
Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes (plus chilling time)



  • 1,7 – 2 kg filleted, preferably firm, white fish (2,5 – 3 kg if on the bone)
  • Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Pickling Sauce

  • 750ml white wine vinegar
  • 250ml water
  • 200ml sugar
  • 10ml turmeric
  • 10ml roasted masala or curry powder
  • 7ml salt
  • 15ml black peppercorns
  • 15ml coriander seeds
  • 4 onions, finely sliced
  • 6 lemon leaves or bay leaves
  • 2 green or red chilies, sliced and seeded
  • 6 slices green ginger
  • 30 ml corn flour
  • 125 ml water



  1. With the skin still on, cut the filleted fish into cubes or slices.
  2. Heat the oil on high in a large frying pan and shallow fry the fish until cooked through but still succulent.
  3. Drain on kitchen paper and remove the skin.

Pickling Sauce

  1. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, turmeric, masala or curry powder, salt, peppercorns and coriander in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. Add the onions, lemon or bay leaves, chilies and ginger. Cover and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes. The onion should be soft but still a little crunchy.
  3. Mix together the corn flour and water and stir into the boiling sauce. Stir gently until the sauce thickens slightly.
  4. Layer the fish, sultanas and onions in a large non-metal dish (glass or ceramic), pour over the sauce, cover, let it cool, and refrigerate.
  5. Pickled fish can be eaten immediately but the flavour is more intense after a couple of days.

Tip: Firm fish keeps for longer. If your fish is more delicate you can firm up the filleted flesh by sprinkling coarse salt on both sides and letting it stand in a glass or ceramic dish for 20 minutes./>

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