Traditional Pickled fish is a classic dish in Cape Town, especially around Easter time.  Of course, it’s an aromatic and delicious meal that can be enjoyed with hotcross buns or freshly baked bread any time of the year.

Originally conceived by Cape Malay fishermen who wanted to preserve their catch, pickled fish has stood the test of time and is a firm favourite in households across the Cape. Our executive chef Stèfan Meintjes shares his take on the classic so you can whip up your very own tangy pickled fish.


Traditional Pickled Fish Recipe



  • 5kg Hake (3cm cubes)
  • 400g Plain seasoned flour
  • 10 Eggs
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 50ml Oil
  • 1 Onion (large – diced)
  • 6 Onions (large – sliced)
  • 4 tsp Garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tbsp Curry mix
  • 1l White wine vinegar
  • 250g Brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Apricot Jam
  • 5l Water



  1. In a large saucepan, fry the diced onions and garlic in the butter and olive oil till translucent.
  2. Add the curry mix and dry fry for 10min on low heat.  Add the vinegar to the pot and remove any particles from the bottom of the pot.
  3. Introduce the sugar, apricot jam and water.  Cook for 45min and blend.
  4. Put the pot back on the heat and add the sliced onions and cook for another 15 minutes. Add more water, if necessary.
  5. Remove from heat and season well.
  6. Dust the hake in the flour and then drench in the egg mixture.  Deep fry until golden brown and drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Sterilise your containers.  Add sauce to the bottom of the container and then a layer of fish.  Repeat this and pour the remaining sauce on top.
  8. Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least two days.


Serving suggestion

It is a delicious meal served with salads or just on its own with some crusty bread. Enjoy!


Be sure to check out the delicious seafood and traditional South African cuisine we serve at Damhuis Restaurant on our Menu.