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October 21, 2020

Pickled Fish Salad – just in time for Easter!

Posted on April 14, 2014 by in seafood

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pickled fish

Pickled fish is such a tradition here in the Cape this time of the year or around Easter and if you travel through the streets there is always an aromatic cloud of curry flavors hanging in the air! I love it!

Pickled fish is also known as Curry Fish (kerrievis) here in South Africa and it is definitely not pickled like herring or roll mops for instance. It is a curry dish with rich flavors or turmeric, masala, ginger, coriander and most of all a sweet-sour vinegar flavor. 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.

pickled fish

Today it is  a very popular Cape Malay dish that is made by cooks around the world. It is recorded that Lady Anne Barnard, after eating pickled fish on the farm, Meerlust  in 1798 wrote: “I had fish from the nature of God, pickled with Turmeric.” Pickling the fish was also a way of preserving the fish in the days before fridges were around.

In my family certainly there is also  pickled fish tradition although I have not mustered up the courage to tackle a whole big fish on my own!  I do remember as a child whenever we went on holiday to Kleinmond, my father would fish if the tide was right. If it meant in the middle of the night, he had to get up and go fishing, he did. First you are woken by the smell of the coffee brewing, then you hear my father stir his coffee and then I very distinctively remember the smell of the sourdough rusks as he dipped it in his coffee, before he left for his fishing trip. What I do remember very vividly, is that whenever my father went fishing, my mom would have the onions, spices and pots ready to make pickled fish in case he came home with some fish. In the days before sustainable fish and fishing laws, Cape Salmon was always the fish of choice for the pickled fish, because it has a lovely firm texture. If my father returned home empty-handed, there would be no regrets, no accusations, because that was what Mother Nature had on offer for the day and was sacred! There was always a “Next Time!”

pickled fish

As I’ve said, I like to keep thinks simple, so I wanted to make a quick Pickled fish salad. I wanted the flavor and idea of eating pickled fish without the schlep of slicing 10kg onions and filleting fish! I bought yellow fin tuna a while back and thought it would be perfect for my pickled fish Salad. This is my lighter version of this Easter Classic

pickled fish

Pickled Fish

serves 4


4 x 200 g tuna steaks
4 big onions – chopped
100 ml Safari Golden Sultanas or Raisins
15 ml curry powder
10 ml turmeric
10 ml apple cyder vinegar
10 ml sugar or sweetener
45 ml olive oil
salt and pepper
2 red chillies

To serve

100 ml Greek yogurt
fresh coriander
lettuce of your choice – I prefer the peppery taste of rocket or watercress


Place the tuna in a ziploc bag, add 30 ml of the oil, 10 ml of the curry powder and allow to marinade. In the meantime, Add the other 15 ml oil to a pan with the curry powder. Add the onions and saute until soft. Add the vinegar, sultanas and sugar/sweetener and cook for about 5 minutes. Keep the onion until needed. Clean your pan and then heat it again. Place the marinated tuna in the hot pan and cook to your liking. Season with salt and pepper. When you are ready to serve, place some lettuce leaves in a plate, place the tuna steak on the salad leaves and then top with  a dollop of yogurt, some of the onion relish and fresh coriander on top and serve as a light lunch or starter.

Cook’s Notes – For a more traditional approach on making Pickled Fish, do tune into RSG tomorrow morning just after 9 when Errieda Du Toit digs into the origin of this iconic dish!

More Easter Recipes


Roast Lamb on the Weber


Chocolate and Fig Tarts

easter baking

 Fruit and Nuts Easter Roll

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3 Responses to “Pickled Fish Salad – just in time for Easter!”

  1. Hester 18 April 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    Very good.

  2. ROSEMARY DESMET 17 March 2018 at 3:29 pm #



  1. Potted Salmon - My Easy Cooking - April 9, 2020

    […] today to enjoy over the Easter weekend. Before we go any further, I have to confess. I do not like Pickled fish. I cannot tell you why, I just don’t. Sadly I live in Cape Town and it is literally the […]

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