“Pickled fish is often served with a little salad as a first course, but when served as a main course it is accompanied by a salad of potato and some dressed lettuce leaves.”
- 2 kg filleted fish, all bones removed and cut into squares of about 6 cm
- 120 g seasoned flour
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- For the pickle:
- 4 large onions, halved and thickly sliced
- 5 T vegetable oil
- 3 T aromatic mild curry powder
- 1 t ground turmeric
- 1 t paprika
- 1 t ground coriander
- 1 T whole allspice
- 125 g light brown sugar
- 1 T fresh ginger or galangal, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 T chilli, seeded and finely chopped
- 3 bay leaves, cut into strips with scissors
- 2 t sea salt
- 2 cups white wine vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 3 fresh bay or lemon leaves
1. Cook the fish two days before requiring the dish. Pat dry and dip into the seasoned flour. Fry in batches in the hot oil for about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. As the fillets are cooked, remove and drain on kitchen paper and allow to cool. If desired, the fish can be brushed with oil and baked in an oven preheated to 180°C for about 25 minutes.
2. To prepare the pickle, gently fry the onions in the vegetable oil until they’re transparent but have not lost their crunch. Add the curry powder, turmeric, paprika and coriander. Fry over a gentle heat for a short while to release the aromatic oils from the spices.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the vinegar, water and fresh bay or lemon leaves, and cook gently for 2 minutes. Pour over the vinegar and water gently to prevent splashing. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer the pickle for 10 minutes.
4. Assemble the dish by pouring a little of the pickle into a glass or ceramic dish. Place a single layer of the fish on top and cover with pickle. Build up layers of fish and pickle, ending with a layer of pickle. Place the fresh bay or lemon leaves on top. Cover loosely and allow to cool completely. When cold, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days. Serve the pickled fish with the onions and a bit of the sauce.
This is an extract with permission from Michael Olivier’s book Friends. Food. Flavour. Great South African Recipes. It is published by Penguin Random House South Africa and retails for R400.
Photograph: Mike Robinson
Illustrations: Roelien Immelman