Easter Pickled Fish

Traditionally South Africans eat pickled fish (or in Afrikaans, kerrievis) during Easter with spicy hot cross buns or, if you happen to live on a wine farm, mosbolletjies. 

The recipe originates from the Cape Malay, all the way from the seventeen hundreds.  Firm-fleshed yellowtail is favoured to make the best pickled fish although hake is also common to use.  The traditional way of serving is in a deep plate or small bowl to soak up the sauce with fresh hot cross buns.  Enjoy with Ernst Gouws & Co Unwooded Chardonnay.


2,5 – 3 kg filleted fish (preferably Yellowtail) 

Vegetable oil

6 large white onions thinly sliced into rings

750 ml white grape vinegar

250 ml white sugar

2 t (30ml) apricot jam 

2 t (30 ml) turmeric

4 t (45 ml) curry powder (Cape Malay Seafood Marsala, Leaf Marsala or any mild curry)

7 ml salt

15 ml black peppercorns or 2,5ml fine black pepper

 5 ml fine coriander

5 ml aniseed

5 ml ginger powder

6 bay or lemon leaves

Cake flour to dust fish portions

2 eggs

Vegetable oil to fry onions and fish


Braise onion until cooked but not browned.  It should still be slightly crunchy.  Mix the vinegar, water, sugar, apricot jam, coriander, aniseed, ginger and bay/lemon leaves together and cook together with onion for 10 – 15 minutes.  Thicken sauce slightly with flour paste. (2 t flour mixed into 2 t cold water)

Cut the fish into 6cm portions or as preferred.   Dip fish portions into mixed eggs and dust with cake flour.  Fry in hot oil until cooked.

Layer fish and curry onion sauce in non-metal dish and refrigerate for 2 – 3 days before serving.  It can be enjoyed once cold but is always better after couple of days.  Firm fish can keep for up to 4 months in refrigerator. 

Best served cold as light summer dish with spicy Easter buns, mosbolletjies or any fresh white bread and butter or warmed with white rice.  

Utterly delicious with chilled unwooded Chardonnay.

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