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Chakalaka with Salmon


Chakalaka is as South African as biltong, droëwors or peppadews, and (almost) always finds its way into my menus. As we approach the warmer months, my answer to this old fave is a Mediterranean twist, with colours as vibrant and flavours as zesty as the Côte d’Azur. Although usually paired with red meat and pap, I’ve opted for a lighter crispy-skinned salmon.


for the chakalaka

15 ml caper berries

4 sundried tomatoes

5 ml pitted green olives

5 ml pitted black olives

5 ml green peppercorns

5 piquanté peppers

2 grilled red peppers, sliced into small blocks

5 ml fresh thyme leaves

30 ml soya sauce

60 ml white wine vinegar

60 ml olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

for the crispy skin salmon

4 x 180 g salmon portions


20 ml canola oil

100 g (110 ml) butter, cut into blocks

sprig of fresh thyme

for the garnish

fresh basil leaves

4 lemon cheeks



for the chakalaka

Remove the stems from the caper berries. Finely chop the caper berries, tomatoes, green olives, black olives, peppercorns, piquanté peppers and grilled peppers.

Place in a bowl and add the lemon zest. Mix the soya sauce, vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Add to chopped ingredients and mix well.

for the crispy skin salmon

Dry the salmon very well with paper towels. Water is the enemy of a good crisp sear.

Use an uncoated pan for searing fish – you get a better result for crispy skin.

Preheat the skillet for about 3 minutes. Once it is heated and you are ready to cook, dab one last time for any excess moisture on the skin.

Season the fish skin with a good pinch of salt – no pepper on the skin, it will burn.

Add the oil to coat the bottom of the pan, the oil should be simmering, not smoking violently. If it’s smoking, turn the heat down.

Take a piece of fish and test it by touching the very end of it to the pan. If it makes that hissing sizzling noise, that means the pan is sufficiently hot.

Carefully lay the fish skin-side down in the pan so that the oil doesn’t splash.

Cook skin side down for 5 minutes, flip it over and add the butter and thyme. Let it cook for another 2 minutes and keep basting with the melted butter.

to serve

Spoon chakalaka in the centre of the plate and place the salmon on top. Scatter fresh basil leaves on top and serve with a lemon cheek.

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