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Dean Dickinson’s Picked Fish Recipe

Credit: Dean Dickinson

Notes by Dean: When searching recipes for pickling fish on the net most recipes are for small portions and most anglers will be looking to pickle at least 3kg plus of fish at any one time.  When you catch a big Kob or Garick, pickling it becomes a good & tasty option.

I have worked out an easy method for bulk pickling as I often use it for catering for large numbers in my catering company throughout the year.

Most recipes are far too sour and the balance of the sauce is completely overpowering.

When preparing food in bulk it is very important to get the correct balance or you can ruin large amounts of food at one time and the last thing you want to do is pickle 10kg of fish and you can’t eat it because it is too sour.

It is normally tradition to pickle fish around Easter and when the time comes this recipe will come in handy.

Some prefer to grill fish and pour over the pickling sauce and others prefer to fry the fish in batter first. This recipe can be used for either.

If using the grilled version just omit the deep frying part of the recipe.

Check our more of Deans recipes and cooking on Pinterest.


For the sauce

  • 100ml vegetable oil to fry the onions and carrots
  • 5 tbls mazina
  • 3 pkts Knorr white onion soup
  • 100g fish masala or I use Packo curry powder or a wet masala from any good spice shop Gorima’s in Durban . (Use more if you prefer it hotter or add some freshly chopped chili.)
  • 2 tbls fennel seeds
  • 1 tbls cumin seeds
  • 1 tbls ground cinnamon or a few blades of cassia bark
  • 1 tbls ground coriander
  • 5tbls ground turmeric
  • 5 Star anise
  • 4 fresh lemon leaves or curry leaves
  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 3.5 liters of water
  • 5 large onions sliced
  • 100g seedless sultanas / optional
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 2 tbls diced ginger
  • 2 tbls freshly chopped garlic

To make the pickling sauce.

  • Slice the onions and grate the carrot and fry them in the heated oil in a heavy based pot.
  • Add all the masala, ground spices, garlic, ginger and lemon leaf to the onions and lightly fry for 2 minutes then add the brown sugar water and vinegar, salt and bring to the boil.
  • Mix the white onion soup and mazina in a cup of cold water till it have made a smooth paste and stir into the pot of boiling water whilst stirring to avoid lumps forming.
  • Simmer till the sauce thickens.
  • Once it has thickened it is ready to pour over the fish.


To marinate the fish before frying

  • 3kg of firm filleted fish Garick, white cracker, steenbrass, grunter or Kob.
  • 3 tbls masala for the vinegar mixture to marinate the fish
  • 3tbls Robertson’s fish spice or the lemon spice works even better
  • 250 White vinegar
  • 200g Brown sugar



  • Mix the sugar salt and vinegar together till the sugar dissolves with the salt add the masala and pour over the fish that has been cut into 40g bite size pieces
  • Place the fish in the fridge to marinate for 30min whilst making the sauce
  • 1tbls Himalayan pink salt or regular salt if you don’t have pink salt.


Ingredients for the batter

  • 400g flour to dust the fish
  • 800g Flour for the batter
  • 2 tbls fish spice
  • 3 tbls masala
  • 900ml ice water for batter
  • 2ltrs Canola or Sunflower oil to fry the fish

Method to fry the fish.

  • Drain off the vinegar marinade.
  • Mix the masala and fish spice with the dry flour and dust the fish with the seasoned flour and place in a tray or plate ready to dip into the batter.
  • Mix the water flour and fish spice with the masala and whisk gently to form the batter.
  • Once the batter is ready dip the dusted fish into the flour and
  • Place in the pre heated oil set at 180c till nicely browned. Remove the cooked fish from the oil and drain off the excess oil.
  • Once the fish is all cooked place it in a tray and cover it with the sauce.
  • Let it cool before storing it in the fridge for at least a day to absorb the flavours.

Chefs tip: When frying fish in a deep fryer as soon as the fish floats it is cooked just make sure it is not stuck to the bottom of the pan or frying basket.

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