CLASSIC: Pickled fish

by Kyla Van Heerden

Serves 6

An Easter delicacy, known in the Cape as ‘Kaapse kerrievis’. Although I was only 11 when I ate it for the first time, I can still remember my taste buds tingling and the beautiful flavours lingering on my tongue. Enjoy it with fresh bread, a salad or as a side to your ‘seven colours’ meal. 

Tip: it needs to be prepared a few days in advance to let the flavours infuse.


• 6 frozen hake fillets, defrosted in the fridge overnight 

• ½ cup cake flour

• 1 teaspoon salt

• ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper 

• 1 teaspoon garlic powder 

• ¼ cup sunflower or canola oil

Pickling sauce:

• 2 onions, sliced

• 4 cloves garlic, sliced

• 2 red chillies, chopped (optional)

• 1 teaspoon dried thyme

• 1 tablespoon turmeric powder

• 1 tablespoon curry powder

• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds

• 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

• 5 bay leaves 

• 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

• 2 cups white or brown vinegar

• ½ cup water

• 3 tablespoons white sugar

• oil


1. Cut the fish into smaller chunks and pat dry with a paper towel.

2. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

3. Toss the fish pieces in the seasoned flour to coat.

4. Heat the oil in a large pan on medium-high heat and fry the fish for 5 minutes on each side, until golden. 

5. Place fried fish in a bowl lined with paper towels.

6. In a clean pan, heat a little oil on medium heat and sauté the onion for 2 minutes.

7. Add the garlic, chilli, dried thyme, turmeric, curry powder, coriander seeds, peppercorns, bay leaves and grated ginger, and sauté for 2 minutes until the spices are fragrant. 

8. Add the vinegar, water and sugar and bring to a simmer.

9. Once the pickle starts to simmer, turn off the heat, add the fish pieces and coat them in the pickle.

10. Transfer the fish into a bowl or jar and pour over the pickle sauce, making sure the fish is completely covered. 

11. Cover tightly with clingwrap or the jar’s lid and leave to pickle in the fridge for up to one week.

12. Serve cold or warm. 

You can use any firm white fish such as snoek, geelbek (Cape salmon), kabeljou (Cape cob), kingklip or yellowtail. If using fresh fish, debone it but leave the skin on.

You may also like

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!