Get your



EsmeSalon Recipes

Get access to 1000+ homemade tried and tested recipes by home chefs

By subscribing, I agree to receive a newsletter, exclusive content and free gifts, and declare that I have read the privacy policy and terms and conditions.

South African Style Pickled Fish

Please Spread the love, Sharing is Caring!

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Please note that EsmeSalon may have a financial relationship with some of the vendors we mention in this post which means we may get compensated financially or in kind, at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through any link in this post. Please refer to our Affiliate Disclosure and Privacy Policy should you require any additional information.

South African style Pickled Fish. Original recipe by my friend, Arina. Some changes were made by me.

Despite its association with Easter, pickled fish is not explicitly linked to the Christian holiday. It is thought to have originated from Cape Malay cooking as a way to preserve fresh fish at the early Cape colony.


South African Style Pickled Fish

South African Style Pickled Fish with onions and curry sauce

Despite its association with Easter, pickled fish is not explicitly linked to the Christian holiday. It is thought to have originated from Cape Malay cooking as a way to preserve fresh fish at the early Cape colony.

  • Prep Time: 1 hours
  • Additional Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 12 hours
  • Total Time: 13 hours
  • Yield: Serves 8


Units Scale
  • 1kg solid whitefish, cut into portions – I used halibut
  • 250ml flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for shallow frying
  • 2 large onions, cut into rings
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed – I only used 2
  • 10ml ground coriander
  • 10ml ground cumin – I only used 5ml
  • 15ml masala – I did not have masala. I used curry powder
  • 7ml turmeric
  • 250ml white vinegar
  • 125ml water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 whole allspice grains – I could not get whole allspice. I used some ground allspice instead.
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • Sugar to taste


  1. Dry the fish with a paper towel.
  2. Season the flour with salt and pepper and lightly dust the fish with it.
  3. Shake off any excess flour.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the fish over medium heat, until cooked.
  5. Remove from oil and set aside.
  6. Fry the onions and garlic in the same pan, over low heat, until soft but not browned.
  7. Add the coriander, cumin, masala, and turmeric, and fry for a few seconds.
  8. Add the vinegar, water, bay leaves, allspice, cloves, and peppercorns, and bring to a boil.
  9. Simmer lightly until the onions are completely soft and translucent.
  10. Season the sauce to taste with sugar and pour over the fish.
  11. Allow to cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  12. Serve with bread and butter.
  13. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
  14. Serves eight.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 343
  • Sugar: 2
  • Sodium: 133
  • Fat: 12
  • Saturated Fat: 2
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 20
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 36
  • Cholesterol: 103

Keywords: how to make pickled fish south african style

Tried this recipe?

Give us a shout at _esmesalon on Instagram

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

Who invented pickled fish?

The history of pickled fish is still very vague and unclear. It presumably started with the Cape Malay cuisine that originated from a history of intermingling cultures brought together by the 17th-century slave trade.

Is pickled fish an Easter tradition?

Cape Malay-style pickled fish is a traditional Easter food from Cape Town. It’s usually served with hot cross buns or freshly baked bread. It’s believed that eating fish pickled in vinegar on Good Friday symbolizes Jesus being offered vinegar to drink at his crucifixion

The serving of pickled fish on Good Friday is a uniquely South African tradition with a history that’s as mysterious as the sea itself.

You can read more here – Sunday Times

Copyright © 2024 – All rights reserved.

  • Make tomorrow more amazing than today!
  • Just believe in yourself and dream big.
  • Do not give up on your hopes. Take care always.


I, Esme Slabbert, am the author and creator of this site, EsmeSalon. It is unlawful to re-use any content from this blog, without my written permission. Please contact me should you wish to discuss it further.


My goal is to provide the best homemade recipes that are healthy for all families to enjoy. I also endeavor to showcase and share other bloggers and promote them on my Blog. You will also find Resources and Courses and Services for Bloggers which I promote from time to time.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star