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Aug 16, 2009 12:45 AM

Need fish for South African Pickled Fish

I have a good friend who is originally from South Africa. He has been trying to make a favorite recipe for pickled fish which is apparently a classic South African dish. He has managed to make the sauce (which includes curry powder, vinegar, onions and a few other ingredients) but he can't seem to get the fish to work. The fish suggested in the recipe is kabeljou. We live in Northern California and I was wondering if anyone knows an American fish that can be substituted for kabeljou. Thanks.

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  1. Kabeljou (also known as cob here in SA) is one of my favourite fish - firm white flesh, large, soft flakes. but it's also on the yellow SASSI list (i.e. often fished using unsustainable methods) so I rarely buy it unless I know how it was caught.

    My mother-in-law makes this every year with hake as her fish of preference (pickled fish is traditionally an Easter recipe, especially in the Cape Coloured community, when it is eaten - believe it or not - on a hot cross bun, like a sandwich).

    The finished dish is basically a tomatoey sweet-sour sauce, so really, any firm white fish should be fine.

    1. Mackerel might work. I remember a wonderful pickeled mackerel dish at a one-star rest. in Paris about 30 years ago.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Joebob

        I think it would work well, but the OP wants something close to kabeljou, which is a firm white fish, not smoked or oily.

      2. Kabeljou is in the drum family, so any other drum should do. Perhaps Mahi Mahi or Sea Bass would substitute

        2 Replies
        1. re: KiltedCook

          Thanks so much. I'll pass these replies off to my friend.

          1. re: Javagirl

            I have not made pickled fish outside South African borders but usually when I am trying to mimic a SA fish dish I use either cod or rock fish (bass family) or any other fish from the bass family as they all appear to be mild in taste. I find myself using rock fish more often though as that's what my husband catches in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. When he's fishing its free - cod is expensive in our area.