Easy South African Pickled Fish Recipe

In South African cuisine, pickled fish recipes hold a special place. People love them for their tangy flavor and tender texture. Imagine the delightful taste of fish that’s been soaked in a tangy vinegar mixture, ready to tantalize your taste buds. Today, we’ll explore the easy recipe South African Pickled Fish and how you can easily make it at home.

Pickled fish is a traditional dish enjoyed during Easter and other festive occasions in South Africa. It’s a dish that brings people together, celebrating the richness of flavors and the joy of sharing a meal with loved ones.

Easy South African Pickled Fish Recipe

To make South African pickled fish, you can use various types of fish such as mackerel, herring, or snoek. These fish are known for their firm texture, which holds up well to the pickling process. The combination of vinegar, spices, and fish creates a mouthwatering dish that’s both tangy and satisfying.

So, if you’re ready to embark on a culinary adventure and experience the flavors of South Africa, join us as we dive into the easy recipe South African pickled fish. 

Ingredients For Easy Recipe South African Pickled Fish

Ingredients For Easy Recipe South African Pickled Fish

Now that we’re all set to explore the delicious world of South African Pickled Fish, let’s dive into the simple and tasty recipe. Gather your ingredients, and let’s get started!

Below are the Ingredients for South African pickled fish:

  • Fish Fillets: Start with fresh fish fillets. You can use your favorite type of fish.
  • White Vinegar: This ingredient adds a tangy flavor to the pickled fish. It’s like the secret sauce!
  • Onions: Grab some onions – they will bring a nice crunch and flavor to your pickled fish.
  • Carrots: Don’t forget the carrots! They add color and a hint of sweetness.
  • Bay Leaves: These little leaves bring a unique aroma to your dish. Just a few will do the trick.
  • Peppercorns: For a bit of peppery goodness. It adds a tiny kick to your pickled fish.
  • Salt: A pinch of salt enhances the flavors. Just the right amount will do.
  • Water: To bring it all together, a splash of water keeps things balanced.

Read also: What To Know About Smeg Appliances South Africa

Prepare the Pickling Liquid

 Easy Recipe South African Pickled Fish

To make the pickling liquid, gather your ingredients: vinegar, water, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves.

1. Combining the Ingredients:

  • In a pot, mix 2 cups of vinegar with 1 cup of water.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of salt for a savory taste.
  • Toss in a handful of peppercorns for a little kick.
  • Don’t forget 2 or 3 bay leaves to add a special flavor.

2. Bringing it to a Boil:

  • Place the pot on the stove and turn up the heat until it starts to boil.
  • Let the mixture bubble away for a few minutes to make sure everything combines well.

3. Allow it to Cool:

  • Turn off the stove and let your pickling liquid cool down.
  • This step is important because it helps the flavors come together.

4. Be Patient:

  • While waiting, think about the tasty fish that will soon soak up all these delicious flavors.

By preparing this pickling liquid, you’re setting the stage for the mouthwatering South African Pickled Fish. Stay tuned for the next steps in creating this easy and delightful dish!

Prepare the Fish

To start, make sure your fish is clean. Rinse it well under cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel. Then, cut the fish into serving portions. You can choose your preferred size based on your serving preferences.

Next, find a suitable container for pickling. A glass or plastic container works best for this recipe. Arrange the fish portions evenly in the container, making sure they fit snugly.

Pickle the Fish

Once the fish is in place, it’s time to pickle it. Begin by layering slices of onion and carrot over the fish. These vegetables will add extra flavor and texture to the dish.

In a separate pot, prepare the brine. The brine is made by combining vinegar, sugar, and spices like turmeric and mustard seeds. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, then allow it to cool completely.

Once the brine is cooled, carefully pour it over the fish in the container. Make sure all the fish pieces are fully submerged in the brine. This will ensure that they pickle evenly and absorb all the delicious flavors.

Now, cover the container tightly with a lid or plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator and let it pickle for at least 12 to 24 hours. This allows the flavors to develop and intensify, resulting in a mouthwatering dish.

Serving Suggestions

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When it’s time to serve the pickled fish, there are a few delicious options to consider. One classic choice is to enjoy it with freshly baked bread or steamed rice. The soft texture of the bread or rice complements the tangy flavor of the pickled fish perfectly.

For an extra burst of flavor, consider adding some sliced peppers, tomatoes, or olives to your serving platter. These colorful additions not only enhance the visual appeal of the dish but also add depth to its taste profile.   

Read also: Are Chefs in Demand in South Africa?


After you’ve prepared your South African pickled fish, it’s important to know how to store it properly.

1. Refrigeration is Key:

Once your pickled fish is made, store it in the refrigerator right away. This helps to keep it fresh and safe to eat.

2. Use Airtight Containers:

Put your pickled fish in airtight containers. This keeps the flavors in and prevents other smells from getting in.

3. Keep it Cold:

Make sure your refrigerator is set to a cold temperature. This helps the pickled fish last longer.

4. Shelf Life:

Your pickled fish will be tasty for about 4 to 6 weeks if it’s kept in the fridge. After that, it might not taste as good, so it’s best to enjoy it within this time frame.

5. Avoid Freezing:

Pickled fish doesn’t like the freezer. It can change the texture and taste, so it’s better to keep it in the fridge.

Conclusion on Easy Recipe South African Pickled Fish

In conclusion, making tangy pickled fish is a straightforward process that anyone can try at home. By following the easy recipe outlined above, you can create a dish that bursts with flavor and tradition. Pickled fish holds a special place in South African cuisine, cherished for its tangy taste and cultural significance. 

It’s not just a meal but a representation of heritage and community. As you embark on your culinary journey, remember that pickled fish is more than just food – it’s a symbol of togetherness and celebration. So gather your ingredients, embrace the flavors, and enjoy a taste of South Africa right in your own kitchen.

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