03 September 2012

Ota 'ika

Raw fish.  Initial thoughts that spring to mind is of old-school farce, slapping someone across the face with a fish, rather than of delicacies from the deep.  But, when you give it a second thought, you realise just how prevalent raw fish is in the diet of many cultures, and increasingly in our own - cerviche, sashimi, some sushi, an veritable plethora of dishes using raw salmon. 

We've recently returned from holidaying in Tonga, swimming with humpback whales around the Vava'u Islands, where we were seriously spoilt for choice of good restaurants and cafes - thanks Tropicana, Ovava, Aquarium, Mango and Marina (and there are many more, but there's only so much eating one can do before one (a) runs out of holiday and/or (b) risks being mistaken for the whales we were swimming with)!  One of the local dishes we stumbled upon was ota 'ika.  Ota 'ika (literally 'raw fish') is basically diced fish that been marinated in lemon or lime juice until the surface becomes opaque, then mixed with coconut milk (much like cerviche).  From there seemed to be many alterations, depending on availability of produce and the whim of the person making it.  Most of the ota 'ika I saw used a lot of dill, but I'd be inclined to go for coriander and mint myself.  It's quite rich, so as an entree is perfect. 

Small portion per person fish, diced - snapper, gurnard, tuna etc - or mahi mahi if you're in the islands!
coconut milk (about 1 tin per 2 fillets)
lemon or lime juice
salt and pepper
fresh herbs, roughly chopped
veges - capsicum, tomato, spring onion, maybe a little cucumber

NB: There are no exact measurements because, frankly, how much of everything you put in will depend on personal taste, the look you are going for (chunky and full of bits and pieces, or more simple with just herbs and fish) and the type of fish you're using.  Trial and error - it'll taste fab no matter what!  Furthermore, don't feel that you have to just use fish - if you have mussels, scallops, pipis, squid or crab use those.  Yum!!

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