Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pickled Fish

I had no idea, until moving to Cape Town, just what a big deal Pickled Fish is. It is available in every house in Holy Week - and eaten by Muslim and Christian on Good Friday. My parents migrated from Cape Town to Johannesburg, where I grew up, and I remember my mother cooking this dish for Good Friday every year. Thinking back, it was a tradition she had brought with her to Johannesburg - because no-one else I knew did it.

Pickled Fish

1 bottle brown vinegar (spirit is ok, but I prefer wine)
2 cups brown sugar ( to taste – sauce should be quite sweet)
2 T pickling spice
2 T Turmeric
1 t (possibly more) salt
2 large onions
1 heaped tablespoon hot curry powder
1 packet frozen Whiting – or of course, fresh fish is best (I like Gurnard. I find game fish, such as yellowtail is a bit too strong. Go for the milder varieties, hake, Cape Whiting, Silver etc Fresh Snoek does well, but remember the bones!).


2 eggs
1 Cup flour
1 t white pepper
Salt and pepper
1 t Corn Flour

If you are using frozen fish – no need to defrost, turn fish in seasoned (salt and peppered) flour – then dip in beaten egg and fry in oil. (Don’t make the oil too hot and cook the fish slowly). When nicely brown, drain on absorbent paper and cool.


Place in a saucepan the bottle of vinegar, sugar, pickling spice, turmeric, curry powder salt and sugar as well as onions cut across the bulb into circles. Bring to the boil and allow to cook until the onions are just tender – with still a bit of crunch in them. When the sauce is ready mix the Corn Flour with a little cold vinegar and then mix into the sauce to thicken.

Arrange the fish in a large glass dish with a lid, and pour over the sauce. Stand for at least a day and then refrigerate.

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