Zesty raw fish dish has many names
Kokoda, pronounced koh-kon-da, is a Fijian raw fish dish marinated in lime juice then combined with a variety of fresh herbs, onions, chillies and coconut milk or cream. There are many varieties of this dish throughout the South Pacific. On MasterChef in Samoa, we created Oka, a similar dish to Kokoda, which actually won us the challenge. In the Cook Islands it’s known as Ika Mata, in Tahiti it’s Poisson Cru and in Tonga it’s known as Ota Ika. If you are still a little unsure of the nature of this dish, it is comparable to the infamous dish from Peru called Cerviche, with the addition of coconut.
The fish in Kakoda is essentially ‘cooked’ in lime juice. Lime juice has a similar affect to the protein in the fish as heat does. It ‘denatures’ the protein, causing the molecules to unravel and reconnect changing both the texture and appearance of the fish.
The majority of those who have visited the South Pacific would have come across or tried this delicious, refreshing dish, as it is a fixture on the majority of menus throughout the region. The closest thing I can find in the Wakatipu Basin to this is the divine cerviche at La Rumbla in Arrowtown. Chef Sam Gruar never fails to impress with this dish. It is is a gem amongst gems in this clever and dynamic tapas menu.
I amlucky enough to have just spent five days up in Fiji, at Paradise Cove, and sampled this dish prepared the local way. It was simply delicious and so suitable for the hot, humid climates. The dish below is as close as I can get to the real thing. I have added a little fish sauce, clearly not traditional of this region, but I think it adds a little more ‘punch’. You can leave this out and still have a sumptuous creation.
I enjoyed this dish so much so that I am going to demonstrate the ease of making it at the upcoming New Zealand Women’s Lifestyle Expo in Dunedin (March 14-15) and Invercargill (March 21-22). In addition, I will be sharing a secret dessert recipe that will hopefully impress due to its simplicity and sophistication. There may even be some dumpling demos too.
I will be performing demonstrations at 12pm and 2.30pm each day. Hope to see you there.
Kokoda-Fijian Marinated Raw Fish Ingredients
800g firm white fish such as snapper or blue cod 5 Limes juiced (use all lime instead of lemons if affordable) 5 lemons juiced 1 red onion diced finely 2 good handfuls of coriander chopped 1 punnet cherry tomatoes cut into quarters 750ml coconut milk 2 tablespoons fish sauce 2 chillies, deseeded and finely chopped 4 spring onions finely sliced
1 handful chopped coriander 2 limes cut into wedges
1. Slice fish into 1cm pieces. Pour over lime and lemon juice and marinade in fridge for 2-4 hours. 2. Drain the fish and pour in coconut milk. Mix through the onion, coriander, tomatoes, fish sauce, chillies and spring onions. 3. Set aside again in fridge till ready to serve. I like to let this mixture sit for at least 30 mins before serving to ensure flavours have dispersed through the dish. 4. Serve in little bowls and garnish with coriander and lime wedges. Serves 6-8 entre´e size
South Pacific flavour: Kokoda – Fijian marinated raw fish.