A pickle of curried fish

Preparing for Easter comfort food.

Every year during Easter we have a big family holiday centred around wine, food and fun. It is also our tradition to eat freshly prepared pickled fish with hot cross buns during this time. And so it has become tradition for my mom to climb onto an aeroplane with about 2 Kilograms of pickled fish in her hand luggage. Apart from fooling the 100ml scanners somehow, the greatest trick is of course hoping that the trustworthy Tupperware doesn’t give in and flood the flight with an aroma of fish… Honestly, if I were one of those unfortunate passengers, I wouldn’t mind, I love the dish. Cold, curried fish served with copious amounts of bread and butter. To me that tart, spicy meal is the taste of love and happiness. And so this recipe is dedicated to that taste, and I can feel it already tickling my senses as Easter is drawing near.


The tradition of pickled fish originates hundreds of years ago from the Cape Malay communities around Cape Town. A melting pot of Asian, African, Indian and Indonesian migrants under Dutch and French influence caused this dish to come into existence creating the sweetest, tartest, spicy and fresh recipe I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. As I said, this dish is traditionally eaten during Easter, but then again, I’ve never been much of a traditionalist. As it does take quite a lot of effort to prepare, do it for a special occasion. Personally I’d say this is the perfect dish for a starter/entrée to a delicious feast as it is light and the taste will wake up every tastebud.


Olive oil

5 onions, cut into rings

1 x 3 cm piece fresh ginger, grated

4 cloves garlic, crushed

5 Teaspoons mild curry powder

2 Teaspoons turmeric

6 bay leaves

1 Teaspoon allspice

1 Teaspoon coriander seeds

1 Teaspoon whole cumin or cumin powder

1 Teaspoon cinnamon

Half teaspoon aniseed

1 litre white vinegar

300 g sugar

2 kg Yellowtail, butterflied (Any white flesh fish will do the trick)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Flour, for dusting



Over a medium heat sauté the onion until soft in a saucepan. Add ginger, garlic and spices and fry. Add the vinegar and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes. Dust the fish lightly in flour . In a heavy-based frying pan, heat about 1 mm olive oil and fry the fish until a caramel gold. Place a layer of fish in a deep sterile glass plastic container and pour a little of the hot sauce over it, until covered. Continue layering fish and sauce until all the fish is covered. Place in fridge and let it stew in its own juice for about a day or two before serving. Serve with fresh coriander and hot bread.

Happy eating! 😉

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Setting time: 1 day

17 thoughts on “A pickle of curried fish

  1. hveagar says:

    Excellent recipe. Looks delish! I’ve followed you as your page is very inspiring. I hope you do the same, as you may find mine the same, I practice naked cooking like jamie oliver, I’m conducting the half-blood princess project.


  2. AutumnPTW says:

    The bread looks amazing! I have never tried pickled fish, will add it to my recipe bucket list! I love trying new things! Thank you for the like on my blog, stopped by to check your blog out and return the favor. See you again Autumn


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