Fish Buying Guide For South Africa

Words: Jess Spiro

Being that we’re surrounded by water, it’s only natural that seafood options in are abundant and of the highest quality but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to tell Hake from Yellowtail. That’s why we’re here – to help with your fish identification so that you can become a fish expert without having to catch it yourself. This seasonal fish buying guide to fish will help you to remember what to cook and how.

fish buying guide

Fish Buying Guide for South Africa


Description: Dry, firm flesh with a delicate sweet flavour.
Area: West Coast and South Coast.
Listing: Green
RecipeTry this Angelfish with Grilled Asparagus recipe

Carpenter (Silverfish, Silvers)

Description: Firm white flesh.
Season: All year.
Area: Between Cape Aghulus and Kei Mouth.
Listing: Green if line fished only. Orange if caught by inshore demersal trawl.
Recipe: Try this recipe for Whole Baked Thai Style Fish

Deep-Sea Cape Hake

Description: A firm white-fleshed fish, with a flaky texture and a mild flavour.
Season: All year, most prominent in autumn and winter.
Area: Northern Western Cape bordering Namibia.
Listing: Green
Recipe: Try this recipe for Nut & Seed Crusted Hake With Gnocchi

Dorado (Mahi Mahi)

Description: Lean flesh with a mild, sweet flavour profile, moderately firm texture and large, moist flakes.
Season: All year
Area: Cape Point
Listing: Green

Dusky Kob (Kabeljou)

Description: Succulent, firm with large flakes. Few bones and very tasty.
Area: Found along the West Coast.
Listing: Green if farmed (recirculating aquaculture systems – RAS), Red if caught by trawling – ask your fish vendor to be sure.
Recipe: Try this recipe for Dusky Kob Meuniere with Lyonnaise Potatoes

Hottentot (Kaapse Galjoen, Black Bream)

Description: Lends itself well to roasting whole, bbq, and all the usual cooking methods. It’s mild in flavour and texture.
Season: Winter
Area: Rooikrans
Listing: Green


Description: Similar to Hake, Kingklip is a firm, white-fleshed fish having a much sweeter, meaty flavour.
Season: Winter
Area: Western Cape
Listing: Green if caught by demersal longline, orange if caught as a result of trawling.
Recipe: Try this recipe for Curried Kingklip with Sorghum Salad and Tumeric Latte Cream

Mackerel (Atlantic)

Description: Oily, dark-fleshed fish.
Area: Northeastern waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Listing: Green
RecipeTry this recipe for Mackerel with Wilted Baby Gem Lettuce and Charred Potato

Mackerel (Cape, Maasbanker, Horse)

Description: Firm flesh.
Area: Southern Angola to the Wild Coast.
Listing: Orange
Recipe: Try this recipe for Watermelon & Maasbanker Bokkom Salad


Description: Tight, meaty, white-fleshed fish with a delicate flavour. Has been compared to the flavour and texture of rock lobster.
Area: West Coast as well as South Coast.
Listing: Green
Recipe: Try this recipe for Seared Langoustine Saffron Monkfish Squid Ink Tagliatelle

Rainbow Trout

Description: A tender-fleshed fish, with a pinky/orange hue. The flavour is rather sweet, almost nutty in some instances.
Area: Farmed in freshwater cages in South Africa.
Listing: Green
Recipe: Try this recipe for Whole Roasted Franschoek Trout

Skipjack Tuna (Katunkel or Bonito)

Description: Mild flavour and good firm texture.
Season: All year.
Area: Where cold and warm water meet; Cape Point, False Bay.
Listing: Green if pole and line caught in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. Orange if pole and line caught in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean.
Recipe: Try this recipe for Wonton Cups with Tuna Tartare, Avo and Wasabi Mayo


Description: an oily, boney, flaky fish with a distinctly fishy flavour.
Season: April – July.
Area: All along the Western Cape, heading up to Namibia.
Listing: Green
Recipe: Try this recipe for Braaied Whole Snoek with Apricot Basting

Yellowfin Tuna

Description: Firm textured fish, with a meaty flavour.
Season: Mostly summer.
Area: Mostly found in the Indian Ocean.
Listing: Green if caught from pole and line, orange if pelagic longline. Ask your fishmonger to verify its origins.
Recipe: Try this recipe for Tuna Tartare with Avocado


Description: A firm-fleshed, oily fish with a substantial texture and flavour
Season: Spring, summer and autumn.
Area: Yellowtail is migratory and can be found anywhere along the South African coastline
Listing: Green
Recipe: Try this recipe for Yellowtail Darnes with a Herby Mascarpone Butter

Cape Dory

Description: Delicate white flesh, with a firm texture.
Area: West Coast as well as the South Coast.
Listing: Orange

East Coast Sole

Description: Oily fish with a flaky texture.
Area: Eastern Cape
Listing: Orange


Description: Firm, flaky textured fish with an oceanic flavour.
Area: Western Cape
Listing: Orange – caught by trawling so can result in a lot of by-catch.

Bronze Bream

Description: Meaty, game fish.
Area: Western Cape
Listing: RED – DO NOT BUY

Cape Salmon/ Geelbek

Description: Robust meaty fish.
Area: from False Bay up to the Eastern Cape.
Listing: RED – DO NOT BUY


Description: A meaty, firm-fleshed fish.
Area: Most of the South African coastline.
Listing: RED – DO NOT BUY


Description: Firm, meaty game fish.
Area: Southern Cape to Kwa Zulu Natal.
Listing: RED – DO NOT BUY


Description: Firm-fleshed, meaty game fish.
Area: West Coast
Listing: RED – DO NOT BUY

Stumpnose (Cape, Natal, Red and White)

Description: Firm, white-fleshed fish.
Area: KZN and Eastern Cape Coast.
Listing: RED – DO NOT BUY

Westcoast Steenbras

Description: Delicate, white-fleshed fish.
Area: All of South Africa, but can be found as far north as Angola.
Listing: RED – DO NOT BUY

For more information on what fish to purchase, take a look at the WWFSASSI list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>