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Pickled Fish by Fatima Sydow

4 March 2021 / Posted in Dinner

A staple in many homes across South Africa over the Easter period is pickled fish. This video and recipe is by Cape Town local cooking celebrity Fatima Sydow. It’s easy to follow and definitely worth trying at home!


1 cup (250 ml) of flour
10 ml turmeric 10 pieces of hake medallions, 1.5 - 2kg
vegetable oil for frying

1 cup (250 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) vinegar
½ cup (125 ml) sugar, or to taste
5 bay leaves
2 allspice (optional)
10 ml black peppercorns
10 ml coriander seeds
7.5 ml salt
10 ml turmeric
20 - 30 ml masala of choice (see tips)
1 kg onions, peeled and sliced in rings
30 ml (2 tbsp) apricot jam (optional)
5 - 15 ml cornflour, mixed with water (optional, if need to thicken sauce)


  1. Mix turmeric with flour. Dip fish in seasoned flour and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat an AMC 28 cm Chef’s Pan over a medium heat until the visiotherm reaches the first red area.Add oil to pan to coat the base. Fry fish on all sides - about 3 to 4 minutes per side depending on thickness of fish. Remove from pan and place on carlton roll to drain.
  3. Pour water and vinegar into an AMC 30 cm Fry Pan or Roaster. Add sugar, bay leaves and remaining spices.Bring to a simmer over a medium temperature. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Add onions to the sauce and cook over a medium to low heat for 8 - 10 minutes. If you prefer softer onions, cook longer. If preferred, add some apricot jam at this stage. And if your sauce is too thin, add the cornflour mix and let it simmer briefly.
  5. Once cooked, spoon onions into a large bowl or jar. Layer fish and onions and pour remaining sauce over. Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight or for a few days before eating.


  • You can pickle your fish up to 2 weeks in advance, but one week is best.
  • Use pickled fish masala, your favourite masala mix or curry powder of your choice.