At home, or even on a camping trip, you will most likely serve curry with rice, or roti (if you’re making a particular effort), or even both. This is not the case for a picnic braai though. Making rice out in nature is beyond the level of effort I am willing to make on an excursion that by definition should be relaxing. On a beautiful spring day a few years ago, this led to the Fish Curry Burger.
Situated right next to the ocean on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard, between Clifton and Camps Bay, with a backdrop of the Twelve Apostles, Maiden’s Cove is not only arguably, but factually, one of South Africa’s most beautiful public picnic and braai areas. The soundtrack of crashing waves made me feel like fish. And as is the case with perfect spring days, there was still a nip in the air, which warranted a flavour profile with a bit of heat.
The curry sauce is pretty straightforward and you do that in your potjie or fireproof pan. Add the fish fillets and poach them until done. For this magic trick, you reduce the sauce a little beyond the point at which you would have done to serve it with rice, as the sauce needs a bit more body to hold up in your vessel of choice – a soft oversized supermarket hamburger roll. I specify hake portions in the recipe because in South African supermarkets, high-quality, frozen hake fillet packs are widely available – but obviously other suitable fresh options like yellowtail and cob will also work.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 4 portions hake fillets (fresh or frozen)
- 4 burger rolls
- 1 tot olive oil
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 bell pepper (seeded, and chopped or sliced)
- 1 tot curry spice (medium)
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 tub (200 g) feta cheese
- 2 tomatoes (sliced)
- fresh coriander
- Place your potjie or fireproof pan on the fire, add the olive oil, onion and pepper, and fry until soft.
- Add the curry spice and toss around to release the flavours. Before things get out of hand and burn, add the tin of tomatoes and mix well.
- Add the fish fillets, season with salt and pepper and let this cook in the sauce for about 4 minutes. Gently turn the fillets around, season the other side and continue to cook until the fish is cooked and you are happy with the consistency of the sauce for burger purposes. In the unlikely event that the sauce is reduced before the fish is cooked, add a dash of water or other suitable liquid. Other suitable liquids you might have on hand include juice, wine and beer. Stock would also be suitable but it’s unlikely you will have that on hand at a picnic.
- For the final 2 minutes, as the music reaches a crescendo, crumble the feta over everything.
- Assemble the burger: roll, fresh tomato slices, fish fillet (be gentle, it might flake and break), sauce from the pan or potjie, fresh coriander, roll.
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