Ika Mata (Raw Fish)

Fe'ena Syme-Buchanan
Photography By
Fe'ena Syme-Buchanan

Ever wanted to know the secret to one of our best fish dishes in a little paradise? Well today is your lucky day! We recently celebrated Tourism week here in the Cook Islands and chef-extraordinaire Ngametua (Tua) Ngaro Tariau, was there with an ika mata demonstration for spectators at Maire Nui Park in Avarua.

If you were feeling slightly peckish on Friday afternoon of Cook Islands Tourism Week, Maire Nui Park in Avarua was where you should have been! 

The demonstration was conducted by Ngametua (Tua) Ngaro Tariau, a local chef from Manuia Resort and member of Les Chaînes des Rôtisseurs - an international association of gastronomy. He put on a thorough show for the visitors as he began the process of making ika mata from the very beginning – husking the coconut. 

Following was, of course, grating the coconut and squeezing the cream. Visitors were astonished watching how fresh coconut cream is made, and not bought in a packet. They learnt the names of the different stages for a coconut, clarifying lots of confusion.

Then came the chopping, cutting and squeezing. Tua cut the fish into bite size cubes and marinated it in lime and salt. He then chopped up the veggies; tomato, red onion, capsicum, spring onion, ginger and coriander bringing lots of flavour and colour to the classic Cook Island dish. A few minutes had passed so the fish was mixed with the veggies, tossed for a bit before the fresh coconut cream was poured. 

The visitors could hardly wait before they lined up for tasters. They sat together and enjoyed the delectable dish, many returning for seconds and thirds!