Ika Mata – Raw Fish Salad

This recipe appears in the latest release from Freerange Press, Kai and culture: Food stories from Aotearoa. This book of essays, profiles and recipes explores Aotearoa’s food culture and identity, as well as some of the issues involved in the growing and making of our food.

Recipe by Robert Oliver. Photography Kai Pasifika

Sitting somewhere between traditional Samoan ‘poke’ (which contains no citrus or coconut cream), and Fijian ‘kokoda’ (which is marinated in lime juice for two to three hours), is the Cook Islands’ ika mata, which is prepared ‘medium rare’. Contrary to Victor Bergeron’s belief that traditional cuisine across the South Pacific is ‘same-same’ (this erroneous belief was yet another reason why he felt compelled to create his signature tiki cuisine), each of these marinated fish dishes differs based on the variety of fish preferred, the type of citrus used for marinating, the length of time the fish is ‘cooked’ in the marinade, the type and amount of other ingredients that may be added. Kai Pasifika has shared their interpretation of ika mata for inclusion in this book – simple to prepare, yet elegant in presentation, with not a chunk of tinned pineapple in sight.

Kai and culture: Food stories from Aotearoa, Freerange Press, $50. For more information and to order online now, click here. 

Serves: 6. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 10–15 minutes

Ingredients for the miti (coconut dressing)

1 cup coconut cream
1–2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons finely minced spring onion
2 tablespoons lime juice and zest of 2 limes
1 teaspoon sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients for the fish and salad

80g thinly sliced sashimi grade tuna (other fish such as snapper or trevally can be used)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Sea salt
2 tablespoons finely diced
firm mango (substitute apple if mango is unavailable)
1 tablespoon minced spring onions
1 tablespoon finely diced green capsicum
1 tablespoon finely diced red capsicum
1 tablespoon grated fresh coconut

Minced red chilli and micro-coriander for garnish (optional)


Mix the dressing ingredients together. (The dressing will keep overnight, but coconut cream tends to go rancid once the spring onion has been added, so add this just prior to serving.)

Lay the fish slices on a serving plate. Brush the fish slices with the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle the mango, spring onions, capsicum and grated coconut over the fish slices.

Pour the dressing over the fish and garnish with minced chilli and coriander, if using. Enjoy!

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