An Easter staple, little beats traditional South African pickled fish, especially when it’s made using sustainably caught Cape hake. This recipe embraces fragrant Cape Malay spices to create a zingy pickle that’s delicious as part of an al fresco lunch. 

MSC-certified Cape hake is ideal for making this dish, as its firm flesh and subtle taste hold up well to pickling. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and a great source of lean protein, Cape hake is as good for you as it is simple to work with, and I’ve provided options to make my pickled fish recipe using both fresh and frozen hake. 

Serve the pickled fish cold from the refrigerator with diced cucumber, fresh green chilli, crusty bread, and butter.


Pickled Fish

Prep time: 30 mins /Pickling time: minimum 3 days /Serves: 8

You will need:

  • 2kg hake, cleaned and cut into sections
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced into rings
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 125ml water
  • 75ml white sugar
  • 3 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 10ml ground turmeric
  • 10ml cumin seeds
  • 10ml garam masala powder
  • 10ml coriander seeds
  • 10ml black peppercorns
  • 1 heaped tablespoon cake flour
  • 10ml salt

Fry the hake sections in olive oil until just cooked through. Season the fish with salt and pepper and set aside.

Fry the onions in a little olive oil until just cooked – you want them to still have a crunch.

In a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, bay leaves, spices, salt and peppercorns and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. Use a little of the sauce combined with the flour to make a roux. Thicken the sauce and add in the fried onions.

Use boiling water to sterilize a few jars or one large container. Place the hake sections into the jars and spoon over the onions and sauce, taking care to entirely cover each piece of fish. Refrigerate the pickled fish and serve after a minimum of three days. The fish will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 6 months. 

Cook’s Tip: use ready-filleted frozen Cape hake fillets or medallions and cook from frozen. Alternatively, should you want to use fresh hake but avoid bones, use hake fillets. 

By choosing MSC certified Cape hake, you’re assisting in the protection of our oceans, ensuring an ongoing livelihood for fishers and the longevity of the seafood we all love to eat. 

To learn more about seafood certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, visit their website  or @mscinafrica #ChooseTheBlueFish

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