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Proudly South African Seafood Potjiekos

Posted on November 28, 2011 by in seafood

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Seafood Potjiekos is as South African as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Table Mountain and I am convinced if all the politicians in South Africa would join me for a delicious Seafood Potjiekos, maybe on top of Table Mountain, we could solve a few issues right there and then.

Potjiekos, literally translated “small pot of food”, is meant to bring people together around simple, rustic food, a principle that is very near and dear to my heart.
Basically potjiekos is a stew that is cooked on the open fire in a round three-legged cast iron pot and was originally made by the Voortrekkers from the game that they hunted throughout the day. These days potjiekos is made with chicken, beef, lamb and although the original idea was to add just simple vegetables, these days recipes include, seafood, pasta, fruit, creams and a variety of sauces.
While growing up, we used to always camp out this time of the year and because it was holiday our eating routine changed and mom would always treat us with well, holiday food…..hamburgers, hotdogs etc, but by about the 4th day, my father would say: ” Lovey, I think it is time for some proper food, otherwise we might die of scurvy ( a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C)! After this friendly reprimand of dad, mom would always haul out the pot to make potjiekos…. Mom’s pot would then have lamb, lots of carrots(to fight off the evil scurvy), potatoes, and onions. Lots of black pepper, yum!! The greatest part of eating a potjiekos was always the good times we had around the fire, singing, joking and just bonding as a family so when my hubs and I got married someone gave us our first cast iron pot as a wedding gift and till this day, we are trying to keep the tradition going.

This past weekend we had a Potjie kos Cookoff at our church and because there were so many interesting pots such an as Paprika Chicken, Kudu with Fruit, Oxtail and Lamb Curry , I knew I had to be really inventive to nail this competition. I decided to go with my Proudly South African Seafood Potjiekos! Nothing fancy, just a fragrant tomato base with all sorts of seafood and if you want good seafood in Cape Town, Julie from Ocean Jewels is just a phone call away. Julie says: I sell only the freshest seafood caught in and around the False Bay coast line. I am a SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) participant and consider sustainability an essential.” So I was up at the crack of dawn Saturday morning to fetch my fresh seafood from Julie at the Biscuit Mill where she trades on Saturday mornings. So if you are in Cape Town, here are a few places where you can get your supplies, else you can find her on her blog Ocean Jewels Fresh Fish.

Neighbourgoods market – Saturday 9am – 2pm
I trade every Saturday at the Neighbourgoods market, The Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock.
An email is sent on Friday with details of fresh fish available at the market
Fresh fish can be booked for collection at the market.

Starlings cafe – Wednesday 4pm – 6pm
I trade every Wednesday at Starlings cafe, 97 Belvedere road, Claremont
The fish selection will also be mailed to you.
Fresh fish can be booked for collection at the market.

Weekly deliveries
Deliveries take place at least once a week, dependent on availability of fresh fish.
Details of fish available and prices will be emailed to you.
Please order via email or cell. 083 5820829.
Delivery cost is R10.00.

The Foodshed
You may also order your fish online at the The Foodshed.
Orders are for delivery or collection.

By now you must be dying to see the recipe, right?  Before I start, I just need to remind you, that potjiekos takes time and patience and when making a tough meat like Oxtail, a pot can easily simmer for 3-4 hours. Now you all know that seafood cooked that long will disintegrate to nothing, so take your time with the tomato base, it really is the success to this pot!

South African Seafood Potjiekos
feeds about 12 hungry souls


For the tomato base
3 cans chopped tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 large onions – chopped
2-3 cloves garlic – chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp fry ground fennel
2 heaped tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp dry ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp dry oregano
about 1 liter chicken stock
juice and zest of two lemons
2 tbsp sugar

Fresh fish
400gr yellow tail – green on SASSI list
800gr hake – green on SASSI list
2 kg mussels – green on SASSI list
1 medium crab 
2 kg prawns – orange on SASSI list
Proudly South African Seafood Potjiekos
Start to get your fire going with charcoal and when you have a few coals, place your pot over the fire and when the pot is hot, add the oil, onion, garlic and all the spices. Stir with a wooden spoon until your onions are soft lightly caramelized. Add the all the other sauce ingredients and bring to a light simmer. Place the lid of the pot back on and relax while the sauce is cooking. Feed your fire with thin wood so that the sauce just bubbles. When the sauce is thick and wants to start catching at the bottom, add more hot water and keep reducing the sauce. Remember the longer it cooks, the better it gets.Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning to your taste.
When you are happy, I was after about 1 hour, add the seafood and some salt and place the lid back on. Once all the mussels are open (discard the ones that don’t), the prawns are cooked, the legs of the mussels comes off easily when pulled and the fish is flaking, your pot is ready. Place the pot on the table with heaps of crusty bread and a lemon aioli. Enjoy!
Ready for judging
More South African Classics

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12 Responses to “Proudly South African Seafood Potjiekos”

  1. bellini 28 November 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    Wow it looks amazing Nina. I love dishes with a history behind them.

  2. That Girl 28 November 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    This totally reminds me of Southern low country boils that I grew up with!

  3. Linda Harding 28 November 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    Nina, this post has me drooling over here! The descriptions, the pictures, the ingredients… wow!

  4. PinkPOlkaDot 29 November 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    The potjie looks fab, Nins!!! Your pictures are beyond beauiful!!

  5. Anonymous 4 December 2011 at 10:05 am #

    I'm trying this out tonight in an Australian camp oven instead of a potjie. I'm expecting great things!

  6. Capie 23 October 2012 at 9:31 am #

    As a Capetonian now living in Durban I watched a read this with tears in my eyes! Nothing like fresh fish to remind me off home!

    • nerinatimm 24 October 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      Ai shame, I think you need to get here so I can cook up a feast for you!

  7. Krista 28 October 2013 at 12:39 am #

    My husband and I had an amazing visit to the Cape provinces, and since our return I’ve been trying different recipes to try to recapture the potjie we had. I had to adapt to cook on my gas stove in my little city apartment, but your recipe is the best I’ve found by a mile. Thank you for helping us revisit some really excellent memories of a wonderful trip.

    Krista & Colin
    Boston, Ma, USA

  8. Michele De Azevedo 25 November 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    I stumbled upon this recipe whilst Googling for a Seafood Potjie recipe and chose this 1 out of 3 great sounding ones. I’m so glad I did! The combination of spices in this dish are unreal! I would never have thought of them myself. And while I only managed to reduce the tomato once (we cooked on a gas burner not the braai so not sure if that’s why it didn’t reduce as much) and couldn’t find crab or closed mussels, the 2 times I already made this dish were insanely yummy! I can’t recommend this dish enough! I look forward to making it over and over again this coming summer!

  9. Alan 19 August 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    Hi Nina.
    This recipe sounds very good and I will definitely be testing it out I pride myself on cooking in what ever style weather over gas or on a stove or on a open fire as this is my passion and that is the reason for me replying to you, but of cause as a cook I will always want to be better that I was yesterday and sorry to say but I think I have the ultimate seafood potjie so if u are willing to have a cook off please let me know when you will be having a potjie comp and I’ll be there.If you’re up to it there is a comp in Bothaig on the 5th of September and I will be entering and would be honoured if you would join us and c how I fair.
    Kind regards

    • nerinatimm 21 August 2015 at 12:48 pm #

      Hello Alan, sounds most exciting. Please email me the details of the competition and I will see if I can get there. I have a suspicion that I am in JHB at that time, but let’s hope!


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