African Fish With Gourmet Smoortjie Recipe

A traditional South African seafood dish topped with a tomato and onion sauce. Serve with other African favourites for a Zwanzaa dinner.

5-6 pieces (750-900 g) fish (such as cape salmon, yellowtail, kingklip, butterfish)
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch dried origanum

1 kg baby onions, peeled
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 kg small tomatoes (a cherry/yellow/plum mix)
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1-2 fresh bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 handful basil leaves or chopped parsley


Step 1: Par grill the fish in a pan: cook for 3 minutes on each side. Season with salt, pepper and origanum.

Step 2: Place the onions in a dish, pour olive oil over and sprinkle with thyme. Roast until soft (about 25 minutes in a hot oven). Sprinkle sugar and 4 tbsp olive oil over the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes to the oven 10 minutes after the onions have been roasting, in a separate dish. Do not prick them (let them pop). Cook for 15-20 minutes. Keep tossing the onions, do not allow them to dry out. You will know the tomatoes and onions are ready when they look caramelized.

Step 3: Toss onions and tomatoes in a flattish, ovenproof dish with 1 tbsp olive oil, balsamic vinegar and bay leaves. Season well with salt and pepper. Arrange the fish in the smoortjie and bake at 350°F for another 20 minutes. Spoon some of the cooking juice liquid from the onions and tomatoes over the fish and sprinkle with basil or chopped parsley.

Reprinted with permission from Lehla Eldridge’s The South African Illustrated Cookbook (2010 Allison & Busby). The South African Illustrated Cookbook is available through Chapters and Indigo Books + Music and Amazon.

Photo Book South African Illustrated Cookbook

© Parshina