South African Seafood Dishes To Try During Your Visit

With such a diversity of cultures within our country, it should not be surprising that we have such a wide variety of truly authentic dishes located within our borders. However, we thought we could help narrow those options and provide you with a list on seafood you need to try out when you visit.

  1. The Classic South Africa Snoek Braai with Apricot Jam

Snoek is one of Cape Town’s most popular exports and grows up to 2 meters in size. While this fish is a delight to buy fresh, it freezes well and is available all year round. Snoek can be enjoyed a variety of ways, it can be baked, poached, fried or smoked, but the traditional way to serve it is grilled over the coals with boiled sweet potatoes.

However, here a way we make the classic snoek braai with Apricot jam by Jan Braai.


  • 1 fresh snoek
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 150 ml apricot jam
  • 100 ml butter or olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 25ml soy sauce (optional)
  • 50 – 100 ml white wine (optional)
  • Dash of chilli sauce (optional)


Simply mix together all ingredients until combined.

Basting the snoek should happen when the flesh side is up while on the grill. Use a brush or simply drip it onto the fish with a spoon. You can baste as often as you wish until all the basting is used.


Recipe via

  1. Seafood Potjiekos

The phrase Potjiekos, is directly translated to meaning “small pot of food”, that truly is a hearty meal that can involve the entire family in its making process. It truly is a great meal to share for any family occasion, from birthday parties to family reunions.

In South Africa, potjiekos is a stew that is cooked on the open fire in a round three-legged cast iron pot and was originally made by the Voortrekkers from the game that they hunted throughout the day. These days, potjiekos is made with chicken, beef, lamb and although the original idea was to add just simple vegetables, these days recipes include, seafood, pasta, fruit, creams and a variety of sauces.

Keep in mind that a potjie takes time and can take up to 3 – 4 hours to makes so patience is key but worth it. Here is a recipe for you experience that South Africa cuisine.


  • Serves 12.
  • For the tomato base
  • 3 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 large onions – chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp fry ground fennel
  • 2 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dry ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dry oregano
  • about 1 liter chicken stock
  • juice and zest of two lemons
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Fresh fish

  • 400gr yellow tail – green on SASSI list
  • 800gr hake – green on SASSI list
  • 2 kg mussels – green on SASSI list
  • 1 medium crab
  • 2 kg prawns – orange on SASSI list


  1. Start to get your fire going with charcoal and when you have a few coals, place your pot over the fire and when the pot is hot, add the oil, onion, garlic and all the spices.
  2. Stir with a wooden spoon until your onions are soft lightly caramelized. Add the all the other sauce ingredients and bring to a light simmer.
  3. Place the lid of the pot back on and relax while the sauce is cooking.
  4. Feed your fire with thin wood so that the sauce just bubbles.
  5. When the sauce is thick and wants to start catching at the bottom, add more hot water and keep reducing the sauce.
  6. Remember the longer it cooks, the better it gets. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning to your taste.
  7. After about ± 1 hour, add the seafood and some salt and place the lid back on.
  8. Once all the mussels are open (discard the ones that don’t), the prawns are cooked, the legs of the mussels come off easily when pulled and the fish is flaking, your pot is ready.
  9. Place the pot on the table with heaps of crusty bread and a lemon aioli.
  10. Enjoy!


  1. Perlemoen

Perlemoen, also commonly called abalone (a-buh-LOH-nee), it is greatly sought after as a delicacy and is available canned or fresh.

The edible part of the perlemoen is the large muscular “foot” with which it clings to rocks. This muscle contracts tightly as soon as the animal is removed from it anchorage and careful handling is vital if the meat is to relax and therefore become tender.

Abalone-diving has been a recreational activity for many years, but stocks are severely threatened by illegal commercial harvesting. In South Africa, all persons harvesting this shellfish need permits that are issued annually, and no abalone may be harvested using scuba gear.

Perlemoen can be prepared a variety of ways

Crumbed and Fried Perlemoen

  • Slice perlemoen into strips against the grain.
  • Pound with a meat mallet until soft and limp.
  • Coat with egg and breadcrumbs or flour, and fry very quickly in hot oil or butter until golden.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve with lemon wedges.

Crisp-fried Perlemoen in Batter

  • Slice approximately 4 perlemoen thinly.
  • Dip in batter and fry in heated cooking oil until golden-brown.
  • Drain on paper towel and serve immediately.

Fried Perlemoen

  • Thinly slice perlemoen and dredge in cake flour.
  • Heat equal amounts of butter and cooking oil in a frying pan.
  • As soon as the mixture browns, fry the perlemoen rapidly for 1–2 minutes (not longer, otherwise it will be tough.)
  • When all the perlemoen has been fried, add a little heated dry white wine, chopped parsley and 1 clove finely chopped garlic to the pan.
  • Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  • Bring to the boil, pour over the perlemoen and serve immediately on cooked rice.


  1. Cape Malay Style Fish Breyani

This dish is a popular Indian dish that got its own South Africa twist by Cape Muslims and is usually served at religious festivals. It is best prepared in advance, as the flavours improve as the longer it sits.

Serves 6 – 8


  • 60ml sunflower oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 10ml coarse salt
  • 20ml crushed ginger and garlic
  • 40ml red chilli powder
  • 4 large over-ripe blanched and chopped tomatoes or 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 10ml ground cumin
  • 10ml ground coriander
  • 5ml garam masala
  • 2,5ml turmeric
  • 125ml fresh cream
  • 4 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1,5kg fresh hake steaks
  • 3 potatoes, peeled sliced and fried
  • 400g tinned lentils, drained
  • 4 cups cooked basmati rice (measured after cooking)
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced and fried until golden
  • 60g butter 125ml boiled water
  • 5ml egg yellow
  • 6 – 8 hard boiled eggs
  • 30ml Magic Masala, optional or 5ml fragrant garam masala
  • Fresh coriander, to garnish


  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a 30cm AMC pot. Fry the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Add the chopped onion and salt. Saute until the onions are golden brown.
  2. Add the crushed ginger and garlic. Fry for a few seconds until the moisture evaporates, then add the red chilli powder. Heat the chilli through for 3 seconds, taking care not to burn the spices.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and the ground cumin, coriander, garam masala and turmeric. Simmer the tomatoes using the back of a wooden spoon to break down the lumps.
  4. Stir in the fresh cream and add the curry leaves then add the hake and spoon the sauce over the steaks to cook.
  5. Place a layer of par-cooked fried potatoes over the fish, then add half the drained lentils.
  6. Layer the basmati rice over the lentils – the rice must be cold to prevent it from becoming sticky.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining lentils over the rice and top with crispy fried brown onion.
  8. Dot the rice with butter and pour over the boiled water.
  9. Drop the egg yellow over the rice and arrange the sliced boiled eggs on top.
  10. Sprinkle with the Magic Masala or an extra teaspoon of garam masala.
  11. Reduce the heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  12. Steam the breyani on a low heat for 10 – 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the steaks.


  1. Crayfish

South African Crayfish (Spiny Lobster) can be used in any recipe needing lobster. The meat can be found in the tail and is sweet and is firm-textured and very white when cooked.

The two commercially available varieties in South Africa are the West Coast Rock Lobster (Jasus lalandii) found in the colder west coast waters and the East Coast Rock Lobster (Panulirus homarus).

Allow ½ large or 1 small crayfish per serving. They may be bought live, ready cooked and frozen, or as crayfish tails. When buying fresh crayfish, make certain the tail is tightly curled into the body and snaps back when straightened, and that the crayfish is heavy for its size. The smell should be sweet and fresh. A 1–1.5 kg crayfish is ideal; larger ones tend to be rather tough so are best avoided.

Cooking Crayfish in Liquid

  • It is important not to overcook this delicacy. Weigh the crayfish. Cooking time should be 6 minutes for every 450 grams.
  • Fill a large saucepan with enough salted water to completely cover the crayfish. Or, make a court bouillon, better still, if you are enjoying your fresh catch on the beach, use sea water.
  • Bring the water to a fast boil, add the crayfish and allow the water to reach the boiling point again.
  • Time the cooking from this moment onwards. The water should simmer gently, not boil until the crayfish is done. An average-sized crayfish takes about 12 minutes to cook.
  • Once cooked, remove the crayfish which will now have a brilliant, orange-red shell, drain and cool right side up.
  • Open the shell and degut crayfish.
  • Crayfish cooked in the liquid is best eaten hot in the shell with lemon butter or cold with a mild seafood mayonnaise.


Grilling Crayfish

  • Even with a preheated grill, you’ll find grilling tends to singe the outside of the crayfish before the inside is properly cooked.
  • A more satisfactory result is obtained by preheating the whole oven to 200°C (390°F) and only then turning the grill on full and starting the cooking process.
  • The heat from the bottom of the oven reduces the cooking time so that the top flesh does not char badly and the edges of the shell still look neat.
  • Frequent basting is essential to ensure that the flesh stays succulent. It is worth taking the trouble to clarify the butter to obtain an even browning and avoid unsightly scorching.

Fisherman’s Steamed Crayfish

  • This old method attributed to Cape Malay fishermen is perhaps the best method of cooking fresh crayfish. The live crayfish is wrapped in a sack or thick newspaper soaked with sea water.
  • The sack is fitted into a paraffin tin which is placed on the coals.
  • The crayfish is then dry steamed.
  • Check whether it is cooked after about 15 minutes.

When the whole crayfish are served, finger bowls of warm water and sliced lemon should always be provided.


Time to eat

South Africans may be well known for our love of meat due to our a love affair with braai but that doesn’t mean we’re not opposed to other types of dishes. Our coastline offers us the opportunity to enjoy some of the most amazing seafood dishes that simply cannot be missed, esepcially when paired with a great local wine. 

If you love seafood then these dishes will be perfect for you and you will have no problem deciding what’s to try our first when you visit our sunny shores.

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