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Raw fish the Melanesian way
  |  First Published: December 2014



Pronounced kokonda, but spelt as kokoda, without the ‘n’ as Fijians sometimes do this accompanying photo sequence is the Fijian version of the dish ceviche (coconut fish salad).

There are many variations of the ingredients including using peeled prawns instead of fish cubes. Called Ota ‘ika or the variation ‘poisson cru’ in Tahiti they’ll use raw tuna as the fish hero of the dish. The Catalan version, Esqueixada, uses black olives. Other regional variations may include the use of a popular local herb, such as basil. The Hawaiian ‘poke’ uses oils and soy sauce. Tonga’s ‘ota ika’, the Cook Islands’ ‘ita mata’ and the Easter Islands’ ceviche de pescado are all local variations.

This dish is also known as numus, especially when prepared with trevally. Central and South Americans also call it ceviche and may even serve it on tostadas in Mexico.

Spanish Mackerel (walu) is the preference species of many Fijians for kokoda. Plenty of countries use wahoo and mahi mahi as options. The fish is marinated overnight in lemon/lime juice; a minimum marinading time is generally considered to be about three hours. The citrus denatures the fish and turns it white.

An alternative is to soak the fish overnight in a mix of white vinegar and water; rinse the vinegar off of the fish cubes after the marination is completed. Some don’t like the effect on the fish of vinegar, if it is too strong it can make the fish rubbery, hence the idea of watering it down. My advice is to stick to the bush lemon or lime option for your first attempt; you can experiment after that.

Steps

1

The ingredients: cubed marinated raw fish in the large tray, chopped chili, salt (optional) and diced tomato, white onion (or red or brown onion), green spring onion (shallots) and chopped green capsicum. You can use either green or yellow capsicum as well as or instead of the red capsicum. And coconut cream squeezed from the brown coconut – it takes a lot of coconuts to make a sufficient quantity of cream (about 10 coconuts)

2

Add the ingredients one by one across the top of the marinated fish cubes.

3

Pour the coconut cream over all of the ingredients.

4

Mix all the ingredients together.

5

Add chilli and salt to suit your taste.

6

Kokoda ready to serve.

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