Cape Malay fish

Photo: Supplied

Cape Malay curry fish: A traditional South African dish

It’s time to celebrate your heritage with some Cape Malay curry fish on some freshly baked bread, shared with your family.

Cape Malay fish

Photo: Supplied

If you’re along the South African coast, you’ll find the best seafood but also some of the most aromatic and flavourful curry dishes out there. Whether you’ve been cooking traditional dishes for ages or new to the experience, this Cape Malay curry fish dish is going to blow you away. Made with layers of flavours and tender fish fillets, you’ll have the perfect lunch or dinner meal ready in a short amount of time with maximum taste.

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Cape Malay curry fish suggestions

Your local butcher or fish monger might have fillets ready for you or you can de-bone the fish yourself which can be a bit painstaking. The basic ingredients are fish, onions, vinegar, curry and turmeric, but each home has its secrets when it comes to making curry fish. The secret is that the fish should be firm, the curry slightly sweet and the onions not cooked. The dish is at its best with a nice thick slice of coarse bread with butter and delicious fresh lettuce.

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It’s time to celebrate your heritage with some Cape Malay curry fish on some freshly baked bread, shared with your family.

Last updated on 17 August 2023

Cape Malay curry fish recipe

3 from 17 votes
Recipe by Irene Muller Course: MainDifficulty: Easy
Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • 0.75-1 kg 0.75-1 fresh hake or yellowtail (a firm fish)

  • flour to sprinkle on the fish that you must fry lightly 

  • 2 large 2 onions, cut into rings

  • 375 ml 375 white vinegar

  • 250 ml 250 water

  • 375 g 375 sugar (sweetener to taste, optional)

  • 15 ml 15 curry powder (I use much more, as we like it hot, and I experiment with different curry mixes)

  • 5 ml 5 turmeric

  • 5 ml 5 salt

  • 8 8 black peppercorns 

  • 2 ml 2 fine ginger (you can use fresh ginger finely chopped)

  • 4 4 bay leaves

  • 10 10 coriander seeds

  • 1 1 chopped chilli (optional)

  • 30 ml 30 cornflour

  • 30 ml 30 water to make a paste with the flour

  • Olive oil


  • Start by filleting the fish and sprinkling lightly with salt and pepper and fish spice, (fish rub, optional)  
  • Preheat the oven to 1809190°C.
  • Sprinkle the fish with flour, shake off excess flour, then fry slightly in oil until light brown, place in oven glass dish
  • Pour all the ingredients for the sauce, except the cornflour paste, into a stainless-steel pot and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the cornflour and bring to a boil.
  • Now add the sauce to the fish in glass bowl.
  • Bake for 30 minutes in pre-heated oven.


  • The longer you keep it in the fridge, the yummier it gets! 
  • The fish I used in the image above was 1,3 kilograms King Mackerel, and I doubled the sauce so that I can make another batch!

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