Pickled Fish

By ABALOBI’s ‘Fish With A Story’

by Tia

Serves 6–8, dependent on fish size

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Pickling time: 1-3 days, optional

Works well with: Carpenter, Yellowtail, any seasonally available Fish With A Story


  • whole Carpenter (Silvers) or any Fish With A Story
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon pickled fish spice 
  • 1 bay leaf, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons medium curry powder
  • 200ml brown vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 medium onions, sliced
  • oil for frying


  1. Sauté onions in oil at low heat. Add water occasionally so the onions don’t stick.
  2. Salt the fish, dust in flour and shallow fry in oil.
  3. Mix the spices into the sugar. Add vinegar. Add to the onions.
  4. Cook for around 10 minutes to release the flavours.
  5. In a large non-metal dish, layer the sauce and fried fish.
  6. Pickled fish can be enjoyed hot immediately after preparation, or cover and refrigerate.
  7. The flavour intensifies after a couple days of pickling in the fridge. The fish will keep for 2-6 months in the fridge.
  8. Serve in a butter roti or wrap with sour cream, sauteed onions and your choice of greens

Traditional fisherwomen Aunty Miemie is famed for her delectable rendition of pickled fish with a story which she prepares with seasonally available line fish. Fish was traditionally pickled as a means of preservation, and now holds great cultural significance for fisherfolk, particularly at Easter time. The pickled fish is served here in butter roti, but it is equally delicious on rice or in wraps. 

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