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Scabechi (Aruban Pickled Fish)

Scabechi is an Aruban dish of pickled fish. Unlike seviche, which is raw pickled fish, scabechi is made with fish that has been seared and cooked through. Scabechi should be made ahead and refrigerated for at least 24 hours before use to allow the fish to pick up the flavors from the marinade. This is the perfect dish to prepare ahead of time for a hot summer day picnic

Scabechi (Aruban Pickled Fish)

Recipe by Michael SalmonCourse: Salad, AppetizerCuisine: CaribbeanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 pounds white fish fillets (cod, halibut, haddock, etc.), boneless and skinless 

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 small yellow onions, sliced thin

  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar

  • 3 small carrots, julienne 

  • 1 habanero chili, minced without seeds

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

  • 12 black peppercorns, whole

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 Tablespoon capers

  • 8 pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced

  • 6 ounces baby spinach

  • Papaya Seed Dressing
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar

  • 1 Tablespoon papaya seeds

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup canola oil

  • 1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion

  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard


  • Cut the fish into 4-ounce pieces.
  • Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. When hot, add the butter and sauté the fish until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Place fish in a casserole dish.  
  • For the marinade, heat a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and sauté the onions in the oil for 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the capers and olives) and bring to a boil.  
  • Pour the marinade over the fish in the casserole dish and add the capers and olives. Let stand, refrigerated, for at least 24 hours.  
  • Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving to warm slightly. Accompany with a small portion of baby spinach tossed with some of the Papaya seed dressing.  
  • For the Papaya dressing – Combine all the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.  

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