Cape Malay Pickled Fish Recipe -
Cape Malay Pickled Fish Recipe
  • READY IN 1+ days

Cape Malay Pickled Fish

Recipe by  

"This recipe is a traditional Easter time classic in Cape Town, South Africa. It is served mainly with hot cross buns or freshly baked bread."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 6 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    30 mins
  • COOK

    1 hr

    1 day 1 hr 30 mins


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and place in the skillet. Fry on both sides until fish is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  2. Fry the onions and garlic in the same skillet over medium heat until translucent. Add the peppercorns, allspice berries, bay leaves, and red chile pepper. Pour in the vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. Season with curry powder, turmeric, cumin and coriander. Taste and adjust the sweetness if desired.
  3. Layer pieces of fish and the pickling mixture in a serving dish. Pour the liquid over until the top layer is covered. Allow to cool then cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
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Reviews More Reviews

Feb 09, 2009

I really loved this recipe! I only made a couple of changes; added few extra bay leaves (dried), extra peppercorns and added a teaspoon of fennel seeds in place of the coriander. I changed the proportion of vinegar:sugar a little, cutting back on the vinegar - and thought it was a little too sweet at first, but found that the vinegar seemed more pronounced the next day. A friend made the same recipe & put in the whole amount of vinegar, finding it a little too acidic, so it might be an idea to just add 1 & 1/2 cups. On a whole, there was so much flavour in this! All you need is soft bread to soak up the marinade - it's so good.

Dec 09, 2009

My husband is from Cape Town and loves pickled fish! Perfect lunch with bread and green salad. I've made this 2x -- first time exactly as written and 2nd time with a few changes. It seems to me that in the Cape, pickled fish is lightly battered and fried. I wanted to cut down on the oil and fat so rather than frying the fish, I grilled it under the broiler until just cooked. I like the sauce as written, except I agree that the vinegar was a bit much. I used 1 1/2 cups and thought that was still a bit strong. I think I should have upped the brown sugar a bit to balance the flavor.


5 Ratings

Jan 27, 2015

I grew up in Cape Town and so Cape Malay Pickled Curry is a dish that I am well acquainted with and I expect it to be "just right"... this recipe did it! It tasted even better on the second day once the sugar and vinegar had a chance to work their pickling magic.

Jul 08, 2015

Excellent recipe. Tip: if you need it same day, fry the fish 2 minutes each side, set aside and pour the curry/pickle sauce* in the pan and bring to a light simmer and place the fish back in, spooning sauce over the fish. Let it all low poach for 5 minutes. * a dash or two of Peri Peri or Tabasco sauce works well if you don't have a red chile pepper.


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  • Calories
  • 337 kcal
  • 17%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 32.7 g
  • 11%
  • Cholesterol
  • 97 mg
  • 32%
  • Fat
  • 4.1 g
  • 6%
  • Fiber
  • 2.6 g
  • 11%
  • Protein
  • 41.9 g
  • 84%
  • Sodium
  • 150 mg
  • 6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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