Nothing describes a summer in the sun more than a succulent fish braai under the blue African sky! Served with lashings of salads, new potatoes, and braai broodjies, the fish braai is the perfect conclusion to a hot day spent splashing in the pool or sea. However, for those Saffas based abroad, this time of year has a very different outlook. Theirs is a world of blizzards, perpetual rain, and copious amounts of mud.
While winter may have set in on the other side of the world, true braai masters will be donning their shorts and veldskoene, dragging on their coats, and firing up the fish braai regardless! After all, there’s nothing like a fish braai to remind you of home!
Origins of the fish braai
Few people realise that our South African heritage is interspersed with a healthy dose of fish. Since the time of the early settlers in Cape Town, Malay fishermen have relied on fish as their main source of income. Stories of Dutch and Polish settlers arriving and sharing their fish smoking and preserving techniques are interlaced within many of our traditional foods and customs. These recipes have been shared around the braai or Ouma’s large kitchen table for centuries proving fish has played an equally important role in our history as biltong and boerewors.
Fish braai ideas
Fish braais may be an odd concept considering most braais are heavily laden with red meat. But the truth is fish is equally tasty cooked over the coals. In South Africa, we have access to many types of delicious fish, but two are definite braai favourites, Kabeljou (kob) and Snoek. Both are saltwater fish and are exceptional when cooked over the coals. As a result, there are many fish braai recipes to choose from, too many to list in this article, but we will certainly try!
Preparing fish for the braai
Whether you use snoek or kabeljou for your next braai, follow these basic preparation guidelines for the tastiest fish braai in town.
- Ensure your fish is fresh; purchasing from a reputable wholesaler is advised.
- Most fish are sold without the head and tail and fully gutted. However, you can request this when purchasing your fish.
- Wash the fish under cold running water, pat dry, or air dry before cooking.
- Score the skin to allow marinades and spices to infuse into the flesh.
- The fish should stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before braai-ing.
Now that your fish is clean and ready to be cooked grab the braai tongs and fire up the coals! You are about to dive into the wonderful world of fish braai ideas!
Snoek on the braai
Found along the Cape coast, this predatory fish is available in most supermarkets in South Africa. Eaten either smoked, dried, or salted, this fish is also superb when grilled over the coals. Snoek is so versatile and can be stuffed or slathered with apricot jam and grilled to perfection in puddles of butter! So, let’s land some gorgeous snoek recipes for your next fish braai.
Snoek braai with apricot glaze
This fish braai idea is a twist on the traditional recipe for snoek braai with apricot jam.
What you need
- 1 kg snoek (scaled & gutted)
- 2 tbsp salted butter
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 50 g dried apricots
- 2 lemons juiced
- 4 tbsp fresh water
- Salt & pepper to season
What to do
- Combine the butter, honey, garlic, lemon juice, apricots, and water in a small pot over low heat. Allow the mixture to cook until caramelised.
- Then lightly season the snoek with salt and pepper
- Place the snoek on the braai grid over medium coals, cook for approximately ten minutes on the skin side and four minutes on the flesh side. Turn regularly to avoid burning the fish.
- Use the caramelized apricot mixture to baste the fish each time it is turned when cooking.
Now that you have the perfect snoek braai recipe, you can serve it with some of these delicious snoek braai side dishes:
- Green Ceasar salad with baby potatoes in garlic
- Orange, pear, and sweet potato bake
- Cucumber, avo, and vine tomato salad
- Beetroot quinoa salad with butternut, feta, and fresh rocket leaves.
Alternatively, try this super easy stuffed snoek braai recipe! Simply stuff the fish with cheddar, mozzarella, onions, and peppers. Then top with melted garlic butter, wrap in foil, and braai for twenty minutes. Turn the fish halfway. Then remove the foil and braai for a further ten minutes a side until golden brown.
Kabeljou fish braai recipe
Because we love the versatility of the fish braai so much, we’ve added another recipe. Here is a recipe for those who prefer to braai the delicious kabeljou (kob) over the coals.
What you need
- 1.8 kg fresh kabeljou (scaled and gutted)
- Salt & pepper for seasoning
- Olive oil
- 1 fresh lemon sliced
- Fresh parsley
- 2 garlic cloves minced
What to do
- Baste the fish with olive oil using a basting brush.
- Then season the fish with salt and pepper
- Now stuff the fish with the sliced lemon, garlic, and parsley
- Brush olive oil onto the braai grid to prevent the fish from sticking during the cooking time.
- Grill the kabeljou over medium coals for ten minutes on each side until charred slightly.
Serve with fresh greens or salad and a chilled glass of white Sauvignon Blanc!
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