Learn How To Make Pickled Fish + 2 RECIPES

Words: Jess Spiro

There is nothing more dear to Capetonians than pickled fish. It’s associated with Easter more than any other time of the year, so this is the perfect time to shine some light on one of our favourite local delicacies. But how do you make a pickled fish that tickles you pink? Well, you’re in the right place, because we have a couple of tips to ensure your next pickled fish is your best one yet.

easter traditional food

Balance Your Flavours

Yes, it’s a pickle and a pickle is a vinegar-based dish, but that doesn’t mean your fish needs to be sharp and overly acidic. When you’ve added your vinegar to your aromatic spices and sugar, be sure to taste your pickle. Ideally you want your pickle to be balanced and satisfyingly tangy, so if the vinegar is overpowering, add a little sugar to reel that pickled fish flavour in.

Thicken That Sauce

A runny sauce is never a good look, so once you’ve got your flavours spot on, add the tiniest bit of slaked cornflour (add water to make a thin paste) to thicken it up. You want a little body to your sauce, so that it holds together nicely on your accompanying crusty bread.

Set Up a Production Line

Create an assembly line to get your fish frying-ready. First up, dust the fish in the seasoned flour and then the egg, fry until golden, then remove and drain any excess oil on a paper towel. While your fish is frying, start flouring the next batch of fish, and so on…

Soak Your Fish With Warm Sauce

Once your fish is fried and drained, place it in a jar that allows it to sit snugly. Pour over your (warm) pickled onions and sauce and seal it tightly. Leave to cool at room temperature, before placing it in the fridge. To make sure your pickle has maximum flavour, leave it in the fridge overnight so your fish can absorb the pickle flavour.

Get Creative With Your Serving

The great thing about traditions is that we can honour them, yet make them our own. There’s no rule-book that says you have to  serve it just like your ‘tannie’ used to — have a little fun with it. We like putting pickled fish into tacos with avo and sliced lettuce, or try it in a salad or even blended into a pate. The ultimate Easter tradition is to serve it with a side of fresh hot cross buns.

Chef Rudi Liebenberg, of the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, shares his recipe for Pickled Fish. Looking for a paleo/banting version try this recipe for LCHF Pickled Fish.

pickled fish recipe
Pickled fish

Inspired? Check out more delicious fish recipes.

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