Easter in Mzansi is all about those yummy chocolates, hot cross buns and our champion, pickled fish. While it is easy to go overboard at your planned Easter feast, it is all about finding balance, says registered dietitian Eunice Mpehlo from Gqeberha.
Antoinette Itebogeng from Pretoria says that while she will be missing her late grandmother Martha’s pickled fish, she mostly looks forward to the Easter Egg hunt with her nieces and nephews. “I am a very competitive aunt. My family is big on the Easter Egg hunt and every year my dad will go above and beyond to stock on those Easter sweets,” she says.
In the household of award-winning chef Chad January though, pickled fish is the star of Easter luncheons. “Even today there is just something that excites me about making my own pickled fish. And always (I cannot stress this enough), always, giving it enough time to pickle or lê as my Gran would say in Afrikaans (at least a week),” he says.
Indulging too much?
You are allowed to have those gooey chocolatey Easter eggs but remember to have your treats in moderation, says Mpehlo. “Choose your favourite Easter treat, enjoy it, savour it, and then after the satisfaction and enjoyment of the treat, move on and continue to live free in eating healthy. All foods in moderation, right,” she says.
It is possible to have a healthy Easter, adds Mpehlo. “Chocolate doesn’t only exist in this season,” she says. “With the time off, spend it going on walks, going on that hike you have been wanting to do and spend quality time with family,” she advises.
Can pickled fish be healthy?
Pickled fish is an essential food over Easter that carries deep historical roots and is a tradition that dates back many years. “Eating this traditional food one-yearly can be enjoyed freely, and plated with nutritious side dishes (salads and vegetable sides).”
When it comes to our health though, homemade is always best, Mpehlo explains. “There is no such thing as a ‘bad food,” says Mpehlo. “Foods are less nutritious or more nutritious than other foods; and that is what should be the guiding compass of our daily food choices.”
Also hydrate babes, just because it’s the long weekend, it doesn’t mean that your healthy habits must fly out of the window. “Keep well hydrated on clean, safe water and choose additional drinks wisely,” says Mpehlo.
Do not go overboard with that lunch plate. “Be mindful on your portion sizes of meals,” advises Mpehlo. “If you feel your meal is too large, save the rest for your next meal, and also avoid going up for seconds unnecessarily. If you are still hungry, first dish more salad and vegetables.”
Bathong, pick your struggle!
“There is no better time than the present” is applicable in so many different aspects of life, says Mpehlo. But this stays just as true to choosing a healthy you and healthy life choices. “You do not need to wait until Monday or wait until after Easter to start making a change and implementing some of the goals you set at the start of the year.”
Her quick tips for sticking to your goals over Easter holidays:
Choose to make one change at a time: Once you get going with your goal and start feeling the difference it is making in you, you will start feeling more motivated to take on the goals that are a bit less comfortable to make.
Don’t stop trying: “Don’t completely stop trying to stick to achieving your set goals if you have a misstep once in a while. Just regroup yourself, and keep on killing the game,” she says.
Buddy up: Find a friend to achieve health goals with you. Do it together and keep each other accountable and motivated and encourage one another on the harder days – this will help you persist in becoming a healthier you.
Cape Malay pickled fish
- 1.5kg firm white fish (hake, kingklip and yellowtail works best), cut into chunks
- Salt and milled pepper
- 1 tbsp (15ml) fish masala
- 2 cups (500ml) cake flour
- 2 cups (500ml) milk
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 bottle (750ml) white spirit vinegar
- 5 cups (1.25ml) water
- Handful fresh or dried bay leaves
- Handful curry leaves, optional
- Few slices of fresh turmeric
- 2 tbsp (30ml) fish masala
- 2 tbsp (30ml) medium curry powder
- 2 tbsp (30ml) black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp (30ml) coriander seeds
- 2 cups (500ml) light brown sugar
- 1½ cups (375ml) apricot jam
- 3 tbsp (45ml) cornflour
- 8 – 10 onions, sliced into rings
- Season fish generously with salt, pepper and fish masala.
- Whisk together flour and milk to create a thick batter and season well.
- Dip fish chunks into batter to coat evenly and deep fry in batches in hot oil until crispy and golden. Drain on paper towel and set aside.
- Place all the sauce ingredients –except the sugar, jam, cornflour and onions –into a large pot. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Whisk in brown sugar and apricot jam and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Ladle spoonfuls of the sauce into a separate bowl and whisk in cornflour until smooth.
- Pour mixture back into the pot and simmer for 8 –10 minutes or until slightly thickened.
- Add onions, simmer for 5 –8 minutes until soft and season generously. Remove from the heat.
- Place fried fish into a large container and pour over slightly cooled sauce. Cover with a lid and refrigerate for at least 1 week before serving.
- Serve with warm, toasted and buttered hot cross buns or crusty bread to mop up all of that sauce.