We have already seen evidence of the migration of the people of South-East Asia, towards the east, through the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Samoa.
This exodus didn’t reach Tahiti until somewhere between five-hundred and one thousand years after the first settlers arrived in Samoa. For many centuries, the people of this group of islands, we now know as French Polynesia, remained isolated from outside influences. As with the other islands, the cuisine became a product of what was available locally. Fish and fruit dominated, along with crops such as sweet potato.
It wasn’t until the mid-eighteenth century,the Europeans arrived in Tahiti, with both the British and the French claiming sovereignty.
Although the Europeans and other nations have influenced the cuisine, traditional recipes and methods remain in daily use to this day.
One of the most famous of the traditional dishes from Tahiti is Poisson Cru, literally translating as ‘raw fish.’
This recipe uses acid from the limes to cook the fish. The scientific process by which meat and fish are cooked by acids (denaturation), is the same as that which occurs in an oven, although the texture is considerably different when things are cooked by this method.
What you need:
- 500g fresh tuna
- 2 carrots
- 2 tomatoes
- 8 limes
- 3 small green onions (spring onions)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 small cucumber,
- Cream of one grated coconut
WHAT TO DO:
- Cut the tuna in cubes and rinse with salted water.
- Add enough salted water to cover the tuna cubes and add the crushed garlic.
- Allow to soak for half an hour in the refrigerator.
- Grate coarsely or chop the vegetables.
- Drain the tuna, then cover with the juice of the limes, allowing the fish to ‘cook’ for about five minutes in the lime juice.
- Drain and discard the lime juice.
- Add the vegetables and the coconut cream and mix well.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled.
- Makes an excellent starter.
- To make coconut cream, boil 1 part water with 4 parts shredded coconut. Allow to cool then refrigerate before using.