1kg kingklip, Cape or Norwegian Salmon, Hake or Yellowtail fish (filleted, skin intact)
4 medium to large onions sliced or ringed
2 fresh red cayenne chillies finely chopped (optional)
1-2 tsp garlic paste
Juice of 2 fresh lemons
masala or spices of choice to marinate the fish ( I used chilli, coriander, cumin and turmeric powders)
8 black pepper corns
4 all spice berries
2-3 bay leaves
2 tsp turmeric powder
3-5 cloves of fresh garlic
2 pieces fresh ginger root finely chopped
125g desiccated coconut
4-6 tblsp apricot and date paste* or 2 tbslp date paste
375ml chicken or fish stock (preservative and sugar free)
4 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil (half to fry the fish and half for the sauce)
1-2 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
1-2 tablespoon arrowroot powder or tapioca flour, mixed in cold water, to thicken the sauce
*To make the Apricot and Date paste
- Soak the apricots and dates (I used 80g apricots and 40g dates) with enough water to cover for about 8 hours, preferably overnight.
- Remove the fruit from the water and set the water aside.
- Puree the fruit in a blender or food processor.
- Add a few tablespoons of the soaking water to the puree and continue to blend.
- Blend until a creamy paste forms.
- Add more of the soaking water if required.
- Store in an airtight contain in the refrigerator. You may freeze this paste for up to 3 months.
- Date paste without the apricots is made using this method.
- Firm up the fish by sprinkling Himalayan or Sea salt on both sides of the fillet and allowing it to stand in a glass bowl refrigerated, for about half an hour
- Rinse the salt off thoroughly
- Pat dry with kitchen paper towel
- Cut the fish into serving sized portions, leaving the skin attached.
- If preferred, make a marinade with the lemon juice, freshly minced garlic, and spices and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours
- Add olive oil to the pan and fry the fish until lightly browned and tender. You may fry the fish without spice but with garlic and lemon juice if you prefer, and / or lightly spice with freshly ground black pepper, fresh or dried dill, and salt.
- Transfer the fried fish to a casserole dish and keep aside
- Boil the stock in a pot, thereafter pour it over the desiccated coconut in a bowl and allow to stand for 30 minutes
- Strain through a wire strainer and reserve the liquid
- Roughly chop the garlic and ginger, or you may use the garlic and ginger paste
- Peel and slice the onions, preferably into rings
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion, ginger, garlic and chillies until soft – about 5-8 minutes
- Add the apricot-date paste, the liquid from the coconut, the turmeric powder, the all spice berries, the cloves, the peppercorns, bay leaves and salt to taste and simmer over low heat for about 20-30 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken and the flavours to blend.
- There should be no need to add the arrow root powder or tapioca flour to thicken as the sauce reduces well simmering on low heat.
- Pour the sauce mixture over the fish in the casserole dish, you may opt to have single layers or use a smaller casserole dish and do more layers, ending with a sauce layer.
- Cover with cling-wrap when cooled, then store in the refrigerator.
- Chilled pickled fish will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, provided that it is kept airtight.
- Served cold, this traditional Easter dish improves as the sauce melds with the fish. This is a dish that is not only enjoyed over Easter, but may be prepared in the hot summer months if you prefer a cold meal.
- The cloves and black peppercorns along with the chilli add heat to this dish and may be halved or omitted, depending on preference.
- The yellow colour of the sauce is created by the addition of the turmeric. you may add a touch of coriander powder and chilli powder to change the colouring if you prefer. This addition produces a darker hue but does add pungency to the taste of the sauce.
- The desiccated coconut and stock combined with the date and apricot paste, produces an amazing sweet-sour sauce that will rival the vinegar and sugar or vinegar and apricot jam combination!