This is one of those strange dishes….unless you know what it is and unless it’s been in your orbit, it probably looks a little odd. Am I right? Well, who would have thought to pickle fish? I know the Scandinavian countries do it, but not quite like this.
This is the pickled fish I grew up with in South Africa – bright yellow in colour (from the turmeric), spicy, vinegar-y, with a hint of curry and ginger. Great for any meal, any time of year. Best served cold with some farmers bread, a green salad and a glass of cold beer.
Here is the recipe (adapted from Evita Bezuidenhout’s book ‘Kossie Sikelela‘)
Pickled Fish (serves 4):
1.5 pounds / 800 grams firm white fish
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
tsp salt and tsp black pepper
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 large onions, sliced
1 green chillie, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
2 bay leaves (fresh if possible, otherwise dried)
1/2 cup white grape vinegar
3/4 cup water
2 tsp sugar
Pour flour onto a large plate, season with salt and pepper and dredge fillets until nicely coated on both sides.
Heat up a non stick pan on a medium high heat with 2 tblspns vegetable oil.
Place the mustard seeds into the pan and allow to heat up.
They will begin to pop. When they do this, add the fish and fry until cooked, about 5 minutes each side.
Remove fish from the pan and arrange in a deep dish.
For the sauce:
In the same pan, saute the onions in a tablespoon of oil until soft – about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the chillie, garlic, turmeric, curry powder, ginger and bay leaves and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Add the sugar, vinegar and water and bring to a boil.
Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Take off the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the cooked fish and once it has cooled, refrigerate for a day or 2 to allow flavours to develop.