Prep 15 mins
Cooking 50 mins
Serves 8

South Africa has a few Easter traditions such as the buying of Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns. Then there are fun traditions such as Easter Egg hunts for the little ones. Many people celebrate this holiday by spending time in church commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Having lived in Cape Town for almost two decades, I came to love Pickled Fish, a delicacy enjoyed mostly during Easter. This dish is a labour of love and patience. While it doesn’t take too long to cook, you have to give the fish time to infuse the flavours that actually make the “pickled” in Pickled Fish. This takes about 2-3 days. So be sure to make it ahead if you wish to enjoy this dish over the Easter Long Weekend.  


  • 1kg Hake – cut into large pieces
  • 5 - 6 large onions – sliced into medium sized rings
  • ½ cup flour – for dusting the fish
  • 1 ⅓ cup white grape vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger – grated
  • 2 Tbsp Cape Herb & Spice CAPE MALAY CURRY
  • 1 tsp each of fennel and coriander seeds – crushed
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsps. crushed garlic
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup water
  • Cape Herb & Spice Sea Salt and TALL BLACK PEPPERCORNS GRINDER
  • 4 curry leaves


Satrt off by placing the hake pieces in the flour one-by-one and dust all excess flour off. Place the hake on a rack.

Add half the oil to a non-stick pan and heat it. Then fry the hake pieces for about 3-4 minutes on each side until slightly browned and cooked through. Make sure the fish does not overcook and dry out. Place the fried fish on a paper towel to drain the oil and set aside.

In a pot with a large base, heat the rest of the oil then add the onions. Sauté them on high heat until soft and they’ve reduced in size. This should be about 5 minutes.

Using a pestle and mortar, crush the cardamom pods, fennel and coriander seeds. Remove and discard the cardamom shells then add the mix to the onions. Reduce to medium heat.

Then add salt, pepper, curry leaves, bay leaves, turmeric powder, onion powder, garlic, coriander powder, Cape Herb & Spice Cape Malay Spice, ginger and sauté for a further 5 minutes until flavours infuse.

Add the sugar, vinegar and water to the onion mix and cook covered for a further 10-12 minutes until the liquid has reduced to form a thickish mix.

In a sealable dish with a large base, layer the fried hake alternately with the onion mix. You need to make sure that all the fish pieces are fully submerged under the onion mix so that all the fish “pickles” and catches flavour.

Leave to cool then refrigerate for 48-72 hours.


Recipe concept & photography by Ichumile Mpumlwana 

Follow her on Instagram: @ because_i_like_nice_things and Visit her Website: