Few Cape homes would not have their own recipe for “kerrievis” as pickling was a popular way of preserving fish in the days before refrigerators.. Often served as a first course, pickled fish is served as a main course with a salad of potato and accompanied by some dressed lettuce leaves.
You’ll need: 2kg fillet of fish, all bones removed and cut into squares of about 6cm, seasoned flour, 125ml vegetable oil.
For the pickle: 4 large onions, peeled, cut in half and then into thick slices, 70ml vegetable oil, 3 Tbs aromatic mild curry powder, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 Tbs whole allspice, 125g natural sugar, 1 Tbs peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger root, 1 Tbs finely chopped chilis, seeds removed, 3 bay leaves cut in strips with scissors, 2 tsp sea salt, 500ml white wine vinegar, 250ml water, 3 fresh bay or lemon leaves.
Method: Cook the fish two days ahead of requiring the dish. Pat the fish dry and dip into the seasoned flour. Fry in the hot oil for about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. As the fillets are cooked, remove and drain on kitchen towels and allow to cool. If desired, the fish can be brushed with oil and baked for about 25 minutes in an oven heated to 180°C. Prepare the pickle. Fry the onions gently in the vegetable oil until they are transparent but have not lost their crunch. Add the curry powder, turmeric, paprika and coriander. Fry over gentle heat for a short while to release the aromatic oils from the spices. Add the remaining ingredients [except vinegar, water and fresh bay or lemon leaves] and cook gently for 2 minutes. Pour over the vinegar and water gently to prevent splashing. Over high heat bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer the pickle for ten minutes. Construct the dish by pouring a bit of the pickle into a glass or china dish. Place a single layer of the fish on top and cover that with pickle. Build up layers of fish and pickle ending with a layer of pickle on top. Place the fresh bay or lemon leaves on top. Cover loosely and allow to cool completely. When cold, cover with clingwrap and refrigerate for two days. Serve the pickled fish with the marinated onions and a little bit of the sauce.
Serves 6 as a main course or 10 as a first course