Cape Pickled Fish

Because pickled fish should be marinated in the fridge for two days, it is a great dish to make in advance for a long weekend, or any other day that you won’t have time for cooking.

There are many recipes for this flavoursome dish, most of which tend to use lots of vinegar and curry. In this recipe, Marietjie reduced the vinegar and curry. The result is milder, but it’s still got lots of zing.


  • 500 gram firm, white fish fillets (see notes below)
  • 1 large onion (or 2 small onions), sliced
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 bay or lemon leaves
  • 1/3 cup wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons corn flour
  • Salt and black pepper to season


  1. Lightly season the fish with salt before baking for 15 to 20 minutes at 180°C, until cooked through.
  2. Cut the fish fillets into smaller portions.
  3. Heat a little oil in a pan or saucepan, add onion and fry until they start to soften.
  4. Add curry powder, turmeric, ginger and coriander and stir through.
  5. Add vinegar and water and bring to a simmer. Add sugar and stir until dissolved
  6. Season with ground pepper and salt to taste.
  7. Combine the cornflour with a little water into a paste and stir into sauce. Allow the sauce to simmer gently, while stirring, until it has thickened.
  8. Let the sauce cool down.
  9. Pack the fish fillets in layers in an airtight container, covering each layer with sauce.
  10. Cover and allow to marinade in the fridge for at least 48 hours before eating.

Serve with freshly baked wholemeal bread and green salad.


What fish to use: it should be firm and white. In South Africa that would be geelbek, kabeljou or yellow tail (geelstert), or in New Zealand, tarakihi or hoki.

If you would like to try the full-strength recipe: increase the vinegar and water from 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup each.


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