Slaphakskeentjies (sweet-and-sour onions)

Slaphakskeentjies (sweet-and-sour onions)

You must be logged in to favorite a recipe.Login

Thanks for your rating!

You must be logged in to rate a recipe. Login

  • 6 as a side dish
  • Easy
  • Dairy free
  • 30 minutes
  • 55 minutes

Why this dish should be called ‘weak heels’ is lost in the mists of time, but it is a quintessential Cape dish on the South African table.


  • 24 small pickling onions or shallots
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 3 T white sugar
  • 3 T white grape vinegar
  • 3 T T water
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 t yellow mustard powder
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • parsley, chopped, to garnish

Cooking Instructions

1. Place the onions in a large bowl and pour over boiling water to cover them. Allow to cool then, when you are able to, slip the onions out of their skins, keeping them whole and the root intact. Use a sharp knife to clean up the root.

2. Boil the onions in lots of salted water until tender. Drain in a colander and set aside to cool in a salad bowl.

3. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs well and pour into the top of a doubleboiler over gently simmering water. Add the sugar, vinegar, water, lemon zest and mustard powder and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened like a custard. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the hot sauce over the onions. Cover and allow to cool. Garnish with parsley before serving.

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.

Find more allium recipes here. 

Photograph: Mike Robinson 
Illustrations: Roelien Immelman

Michael Olivier Recipe by: Michael Olivier
View all recipes

Michael Olivier is a well-known South African Wine commentator. Trained at the Cordon Bleu school of Cookery in London, he ran some of the Cape’s most popular restaurants. Michael was a Chef on the Expresso Breakfast TV show for a number of years. He has published five books, including Friends. Food. Flavour.

Social Media

Related Recipes