Cape Malay Pickled Fish


This recipe for pickled fish is traditionally served with hot cross buns or freshly baked bread for Easter in Cape Town, South Africa.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
25 mins
Additional Time:
1 day 30 mins
Total Time:
1 day 1 hrs 25 mins


  • ½ cup vegetable oil for frying

  • 3 pounds cod fillets, cut into 2 to 3 ounce portions

  • salt to taste

  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced into rings

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 red chile pepper, seeded and sliced lengthwise

  • 3 large bay leaves

  • 8 whole black peppercorns

  • 4 whole allspice berries

  • 2 cups red wine vinegar

  • ½ cup water

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar, or to taste

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season fish with salt and fry in the hot skillet until fish is browned and flakes easily with a fork, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

  2. Add onions and garlic to the skillet and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add chile pepper, bay leaves, peppercorns, and allspice berries, then pour in vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Season with curry powder, cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Taste and add brown sugar if desired.

  3. Arrange layers of fish and pickling mixture in a serving dish. Pour in pickling liquid to cover the top layer. Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

238 Calories
10g Fat
16g Carbs
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 238
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 49mg 16%
Sodium 67mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 3mg 17%
Calcium 44mg 3%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 590mg 13%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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