Curried Pickled Fish, Old Traditional South African Recipe

Recipe by Zurie
READY IN: 1hr 30mins


  • 8
    lbs fish, firm-fleshed, weighed after filleting and frying (see instructions)
  • 8
    onions, very large, sliced thinly
  • oil (for frying, or use lard, which is nicer)
  • 4
    tablespoons curry powder (use good quality)
  • 8
    cups vinegar (do not use spirit vinegar!)
  • 12
    cup sugar
  • 2 -3
    hot peppers, fresh, sliced open (optional)
  • 1
    tablespoon salt
  • 1
    tablespoon white peppercorns (or you can use black)
  • 4 -6
    tablespoons apricot preserves (jam)


  • First fry the fish in a LARGE pan or skillet in the oil or lard, without seasoning. Remove fish to cool, but leave the pan on the stove.
  • Fry the onions, stirring, in the same pan, without browning them. Add more oil/butter/lard if necessary. Remove onions with a slotted spoon to a bowl to cool.
  • Add all the remaining ingredients. Decide how hot you'd like it: those hot peppers, or chillies, went into the mixture seeds and all! Leave them out if you like.
  • Mix well and boil furiously for 6 minutes.
  • Allow the mixture to cool.
  • Using a deep dish OR clean canning jars, put some of the liquid in the bottom.
  • Place a layer of fried fish on the sauce, and cover with more sauce and a layer of onions.
  • Repeat layers until used up, trying to finish with a layer of onions.
  • Cover and leave in fridge for 2 - 3 days before tasting. If in jars, close the jars tightly.
  • Believe me -- in days of old this fish was not refrigerated. It can be kept for a long, long time, and therefore travels well! It is DELICIOUS, eaten cold with bread and sweet, milky tea!
  • Some cooks added lemon or orange leaves to the final layering for a delicate extra flavour.