Pickled fish is a South African classic that is packed with traditional spices and bursts with flavor. This No Bake Cape Malay Pickled Fish is a staple that is an absolute must for the pickled fish lovers. It is made unique with spices from the Malay Quarter of Cape Town, South Africa, and is a great example of the homestyle and cultural cuisine of the district.
The Meaning of Cape Malay
The name Cape Malay (meaning Muslims of the Cape) originates from the Cape Malay Quarter in Cape Town South Africa, namely the Bo Kaap- home to a community of some of the first Muslim settlers in Cape Town after they were exiled from the Dutch East Indies. The Cape Malays are known for their traditional cooking style, with many staple dishes hailing from their culture, such as traditional samoosas, bobotie, a minced meat dish with a cooked egg-topping, and Cape Malay koeksisters, a sweet and spicy fried dough dessert with syrup and coconut flakes. These foods are loaded with traditional spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, aniseed, ginger, and turmeric, and offer an intense explosion of flavor for anyone lucky enough to eat them!
Guaranteed To Burst with Flavor
There are so many flavors in this dish. The fish itself is spiced with fish masala and a seafood rub, while the pickling marinade consists of bay leaves, sugar, cumin, fennel, and coriander seeds, peppercorns, cloves, allspice, fish masala, and turmeric. It is truly a delight for the tastebuds!
This dish is a hearty meal on its own that will be loved by many and devoured in minutes!
- 500 g firm-fleshed white fish fillets, skinless
- 5 ml sea salt use more as needed
- 80 ml fish masala use more as needed
- 40 ml seafood rub
- 80 ml sunflower or vegetable oil use more as needed
Blanched onion rings
- 400 g onion rings, 5mm slices approximately approximately 2 large brown onions
- 15 ml sea salt
- 6 cups water 1500 ml
- 2 cups white grape vinegar 500 ml
- 1 cup water 250 ml
- ⅔ cup fine granulated sugar 160 ml, taste the sauce then adjust to personal taste
- 5 ml sea salt adjust to personal taste
- 3 bay leaves
- 8 ml cumin seeds dry roasted
- 8 ml coriander seeds dry roasted
- 5 ml fennel seeds dry roasted
- 6 peppercorns dry roasted
- 6 cloves dry roasted
- 6 allspice berries dry roasted
- 2 ml ml turmeric powder
- 8 ml fish masala
- Coriander lettuce and thyme
Masala fish: If using frozen fish, defrost completely
- Cut the fish into desired squares, wipe dry with a kitchen towel, you should have 12 pieces.
- Place a sheet of foil or parchment on a baking tray and arrange the fish pieces then sprinkle over half the salt and fish masala spice and seafood rub.
- Flip the fish pieces over and sprinkle the other side with the remaining salt and fish masala and seafood rub.
- Cover the dish with cling wrap and refrigerate until ready to fry when the pickling mix goes onto the stove.
- Heat a frying pan on medium-high and add enough oil to cover the base. Fry the fish on both sides until cooked through, put the fried fish onto a tray lined with foil.
Blanching the onions
- Slice the onions into 5 mm wide rings and sprinkle over 15 ml sea salt.
- Rub the salt into the onions and let sit until required.
- Bring the 1500 ml water to a boil in a medium-sized pot and blanch half of the onion rings for 10 seconds then remove to a colander.
- Repeat with the rest of the onion rings, discard the onion water and rinse the pot then put it back on the stove.
- To the pot on the stove add the vinegar, water, sugar, and spices and allow to simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors of the spices to permeate the pickling marinade.
- Remove from the heat and add the onion rings to the pickling marinade.
Layering the Cape Malay pickled fish
- Lay half the fried fish into a glass casserole dish then cover with half the onion rings.
- Repeat with the rest of the fish and cover with the remaining onion rings, pour over all the juices and oil left on the foil.
- Pour over the hot pickling marinade and allow to cool at room temperature then cover with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate, allow the marinade to infuse the pickled fish overnight before eating (The longer it is refrigerated the more delicious it gets).
- Garnish and serve with fresh bread and butter, or minnie flat bread.