Naturally, many places with Pacific beaches take advantage of the abundant seafood and offer countless varieties of fresh fish. How fresh? Right off the boat in most cases, and sometimes even raw. From Japan’s sushi, to the ceviche enjoyed all along coastal Latin America to poke in Hawaii, fish often is celebrated in its purest, cleanest form. Not only does Tahiti partake as well, but the island has made today’s entry, Poisson Cru, its own signature dish.
The Spruce Eats features today’s preparation on its website. Tahitians call the dish ia ota, and the French, who still administer the island as part of French Polynesia, refer to it as Poisson Cru, or “raw fish.” Of course, as one of the locals observes, “the only French thing about it is its name.”
Fair enough, and the fish, pineapple, coconut and limes sweetly evoke a soft sea breeze rustling a palm tree. Still, the cucumber, shallots. pepper and tomatoes have to come from somewhere, don’t they? That “somewhere” is the larger world, and ia ota incorporates the outside’s culinary influences as beautifully as Tahiti has adopted visitors’ habits.
Though today’s effort includes tuna, which is the most common choice, other versions enjoyed in the islands use shellfish, including lobster, shrimp, crab and others. Honestly, shellfish would have done the dish more than justice, as its cleaner taste better suits the citrus and coconut. The tuna was good, certainly, as sushi-grade ahi was chosen, though shellfish would have been even better, and been just as true to the dish’s island home.
The fish’s briny freshness is carried ashore on a wave, crashing on a beach lined with a thousand shades of green, each more deeply vibrant than the one before. Here you’ll find coconuts, pineapples and limes. Here you’ll find Tahiti.
- 28 ounces sushi-grade tuna (*1)
- 1/2 cucumber, halved then sliced thinly
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 bell pepper. chopped
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced (*2)
- 8 limes, juiced
- 1 cup pineapple pieces, optional
- 1 can of coconut milk
- salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
Dice the fish into 1-inch cubes, rinse them in cold water and drain them in a colander. Place the fish in a large salad bowl.
Pour the lime juice over the fish and mix well. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes. (*3)
Drain most of the lime juice and mix with the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Add the coconut milk and toss to coat. Let salad sit for five minutes to allow the ingredients to “marry.” Serve alongside coconut rice. (*4)
1 – As noted above, shellfish likely would have been an even better choice. Lobster is an intriguing option, though, sadly, it exceeds my budget, as it might yours. In descending order of expense, crab, scallops or shrimp would be great ingredients too.
2 – Or two medium shallots, of course.
3 – The fish isn’t quite “raw,” actually, as the lime juice cooks it, much in the same way it does in ceviche. In fact, you don’t want to let the fish remain in the citrus juice too long, or it will become tough. Still, let it stay just long enough to pick up the delightful taste.
4 – The recipe for this appears in May 2019’s rice entry.