Skip to content

3 easy pickled fish recipes

Pickled fish, also known as as curry fish (kerrievis) around Easter in SA

Bookmark article to read later

By Lutho Pasiya | March 31, 2021 | Recipes

Pickled fish is a tradition in the Cape around Good Friday and Easter, and if you travel through the streets there is always an aromatic cloud of curry flavours hanging in the air.

Pickled fish is also known as curry fish (kerrievis) here in South Africa and it is not pickled like herring or rollmops for instance.

It is a curry dish with rich flavours of turmeric, masala, ginger, coriander, and most of all a sweet-sour vinegar flavour. Some of the pickled fish eaters even have their own secret fish masala recipe and will literally go to their graves with the recipe.

Apparently, this Easter tradition was brought to the Cape from the East during the slave trade era.

Below are three quick and easy pickled fish recipes to try.

Pickled Cape bream


1kg Cape bream, cut into portions

350g sugar

500ml white vinegar

5ml whole cumin

5ml coriander seeds, toasted & crushed

10ml fish spice

3 x bay leaves

5ml turmeric

5ml mild curry powder

3 x crushed garlic cloves

5ml grated ginger

3 x chopped onions

10ml cornflour

2 tbsp sunflower oil for frying

Flour, for dusting

Salt and black pepper


In a pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp oil and gently sauté the onion until translucent.

Add the ginger, garlic, and spices and fry gently for a few minutes, until fragrant.

Add the vinegar and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved, simmer for 20 minutes.

Thicken with cornflour to a nice coating consistency and season to taste.

Dust the fish with the seasoned flour and pat off any excess.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a heavy-based frying pan and, when hot, fry the fish until golden.

Place a layer of fish in a deep sterile glass or non-metallic container and pour a little of the hot sauce over it, to cover. Continue layering fish and sauce until all the fish is covered. Cool, then chill until ready to serve.

Note: Best made at least 24 hours in advance, and paired with a glass or two of Steenberg Semillon.

Recipe by Steenberg executive chef Kerry Kilpin.

Pickled fish tacos


6-8 Old El Paso hard taco shells or soft tacos

125ml Old El Paso ready-made chunky salsa

1 tub pickled fish

250g shredded white cabbage

15ml coarse chilli flakes

30g grated cheddar cheese

3-4 limes, cut into wedges

For the guacamole:

2 ripe avocados

A squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and pepper, to season

For the fresh salsa:

2 tomatoes, diced

½ onion, chopped finely

20ml coriander, chopped


For the guacamole:

Mash avocados with a fork. Squeeze lemon juice over and season to taste.

For the fresh salsa:

Mix all the ingredients together.

To assemble:

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat the tacos up for about 2-3 minutes.

Place taco shells on a plate, fill with cabbage, Old El Paso chunky tomato salsa, fresh guacamole, and pickled fish. Top with cheddar cheese and fresh tomato salsa. Serve and enjoy!

Tip: For extra creaminess, mix full-fat yoghurt with some finely chopped cucumber and torn mint and serve with the tacos.

Recipe by Food Lovers Market.

Last-minute pickled fish


2kg yellowtail, cut into pieces

Sunflower oil

6 onions

5 cloves

6 garlic cloves

1 cup vinegar

1tbs brown sugar

4tbs Cartwright’s curry powder (medium)

2 tsp borrie (turmeric)

Salt to taste

6 bay leaves


Wash fish and pat dry.

Season fish and fry in sunflower oil until golden brown.

Place on a paper towel to drain oil.

Cut onions into rings and fry in a little oil.

Add remaining ingredients (except bay leaves) into the pot.

When the mixture boils, remove it from the stove and pour it over the fish.

Add bay leaves, cover the dish and let it stand for a few days.


Related Tags