This South African seafood dish is traditionally eaten at Easter with hot cross buns. Fillets of white flesh fish are dipped in batter, fried until flaky and tender, then topped with pickled onions and left overnight to marinate. Start the recipe a day ahead.
- 1 kg firm, white-fleshed fish fillets, such as ling, cod or gemfish, pin-boned
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- plain flour, to dust
- vegetable oil, to fry
- 4 large onions, sliced into thick rings
- 6 bay leaves, torn in half
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp ground turmeric
- 750 ml (3 cups) brown vinegar
- 110 g (½ cup) brown sugar
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp plain flour
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time overnight
Cut fish into 12 pieces and season with salt and pepper. Place eggs and flour in separate shallow bowls. Dip fish in eggs, then dust in flour, shaking off excess. Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Place a large frying pan over high heat and fill with 3 cm oil. Cook fish for 4 minutes each side or until golden brown and just cooked. Remove fish with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Reserve pan with oil.
To make pickled onions, place reserved pan over medium heat and cook onions for 3 minutes or until softened; don’t allow to brown. Add bay leaves, curry powder, turmeric and 2 tsp salt, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in vinegar, sugar and peppercorns, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Combine flour and 60 ml water in a small bowl, then slowly stir into onion mixture until slightly thickened.
Spread one-third of the pickled onions over a large baking dish and layer half the fish on top. Spoon over half of the remaining onions and layer remaining fish on top. Top with remaining onions. Allow to cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Photography by Christopher Ireland.