Cape Malay Pickled Fish

Cape Malay Pickled Fish

This South African dish keeps well in the refrigerator for up to a week. The fish is cooked first, and then pickled. It's served cold with a green salad and crisp rolls.

Important Recipe Information

Prep time: 30min
Cooking time: 60min
Ready in: 90min
Difficulty: Easy
Serves 4


  • 900g yellowtail fish fillets, scaled and filleted, skin left on
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 large onions, sliced in rings
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon masala (curry powder)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • oil, as needed for frying


Firm up the flesh of the fish by sprinkling salt on both sides of the filet and letting it stand in a glass bowl for 20 to 25 minutes.

Thoroughly rinse the salt off the filet under running water. Pat it dry with a paper towel. Cut the fish into serving portions leaving the skin attached.

Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the fish until cooked through. (Do not coat the fish with flour or batter.).

Place the rest of the ingredients in a large pot, and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and make sure it does not burn on the bottom of the pot. Simmer for approximately 8 minutes until the onions are cooked but still crisp.

Layer the pieces of fish and the sauce and onions alternately in a ceramic or glass serving-dish. The last layer of fish should be covered with sauce.

Can be refrigerated for up to a week. Best to make at least 6 hours before serving.

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