Finger-Lickin’ Fish isn’t only for Friday nights anymore! People love the Aruban version of “fish-n-chips” so much that Sweet Peppers has decided to offer it any day you like, as long as you make a reservation. To serve a fried fish and seafood platter at a moment’s notice takes a special level of dedication. It begins with an early-morning trip to the docks to hand-select the fish and other seafood that will be featured later that day. It’s a ritual that Sweet Peppers owners Harold and Anky Paesch have come to love. As Harold puts it, “There’s something exciting and immensely pleasing when you meet the fishermen at the docks and look everything over and pick out what is going to be served to your customers later that same day. I never get tired of doing it, and you never know for sure what you’re going to find!”
Finger-Lickin’ Fish at Sweet Peppers is a great way to enjoy super-fresh, locally-caught fish and other ocean delicacies. What will be on your platter? Since it’s based on what’s available that morning at the docks, we can never say for sure, but Sweet Peppers has been doing this long enough to know you’ll get the “catch of the day,” which is often grouper, red snapper, or wahoo. You can also expect to find some lobster, shrimp, and calamari.
The deep-fried seafood is always lightly seasoned and spritzed with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. It’s also best enjoyed with the three dipping sauces that accompany your large basket of ocean goodness – a creamy garlic sauce, a tasty tartar sauce, and a very special creole sauce based on a secret recipe from Harold’s mother. You’ll also enjoy a serving of pickled spicy onions that pairs well with the seafood and sauces.
Of course you can have French fries with your fish, but to experience Aruban culture at its authentic best, you’ll want to have it with Pan bati and Funchi. Since you might not know what these are, let us explain:
The literal translation of Pan bati would be “smashed bread.” It’s called this because it’s very flat. It’s made with flour, corn meal, milk and eggs mixed together with a little salt, sugar and vanilla into a batter. From there it’s cooked on a griddle in the same way pancakes are cooked, but you don’t want it to come out “fluffy” like some people think of when making pancakes, so the flipping involves a kind of slapping technique that keeps it nice and flat with a slightly sponge-like consistency.
Funchi also has corn meal in it. Some people call it corn meal mush, but that’s not a very attractive name. What it’s most similar to is Italian polenta. When the corn meal is boiled in water until it forms a thick paste, then it can be cooled and sliced for frying in butter. Corn or maize is a very traditional aspect of Aruban cuisine, so when you have Pan bati and Funchi with your basket of seafood, you’re having the way Aruban natives would eat!
If you find yourself on the “One Happy Island” of Aruba wondering what to eat, look no further than Sweet Peppers and its Finger-Lickin’ Fish! Reservations are always recommended, and if you come before 3pm for Finger-Lickin’ Fish, you’ll get a FREE glass of wine!
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