“Mama, it would be a really nice day to go to the Cook Islands” suggests a random Raffles as we look across the shimmering water of Sydney Harbour on a beautiful blue sky day. All our recent Cook Islands reminiscing has my little man hungry to retrace our steps to Rarotonga and Aitutaki… the logistics of which not entering into any of his equations.
“Then let’s go,” I suggest. Inspired, and hungry, I figure we can cook up a little taste of the Cook Islands at home. After a dash to the market for supplies Raffles grabs his coconut shell ukulele for a spot of musical mood enhancement. It would be fair to say he’s not exactly a virtuoso so I suggest we instead let the stereo supply the soundtrack. As the Hoodoo Guru’s Leilani pumps out loudly, the kids get a little “bottom dancing” in and the scene is set. Well almost…
My kooky little man rushes off and comes back wearing his goggles and snorkel, as you do when you’re about to start cooking.
“Mama, now I LOOK like I’m in the Cook Islands” he declares with confidence. Is there a kind way to break it to him that he just looks mental? Together, my be-goggled one and I hit the kitchen to rustle up a mouth-watering meal that will transport us back to our heavenly holiday. Of course, there has to be Ika Mata, the Cook Island’s addictive coconutty take on ceviche.
Raffles also insists on fish and chips, his fave holiday food, and something which he practically lived on during our visit. In the spirit of keeping it island style we’re using yellow fin tuna, as they did in Raro and we’re replacing traditional batter with a coconut beer batter to give it a taste of the tropics.
In honour of the abundance of coconuts in the Cook’s, our dessert is a sticky sweet concoction of sugar banana fritters with store bought coconut sorbet and crispy roasted coconut chips. Luscious.
I dice and slice, Raffles mixes it together. He batters, I fry. I scoop, he sprinkles. We make quite the team my boy and I. We enjoy our meal by the water with some fresh drinking coconuts (all right, so mine may have a little rum in it too, but don’t tell!) and reminisce. Our bellies, once again being the key to reigniting happy memories of far flung places. THE RECIPES Ika Mata Ingredients: 300g Yellow Fin Tuna ½ cup fresh lemon juice ½ red onion, finely diced 1 large tomato, diced 1 small cucumber peeled, seeded and diced 1 tbsp green capsicum diced 1 tbsp finely diced spring onion 1/2 red chilli finely chopped 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander 200ml coconut cream Salt and pepper to taste. Method:
- Cut the Tuna into 1cm pieces
- Toss tuna and lemon juice in a glass bowl toss then cover and place in the fridge for half to one hour to marinate.
- Drain then add red onion, tomato, cucumber, capsicum, spring onion, chilli, fresh coriander and coconut cream and combine gently.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Raro Fish’n’Chips Ingredients: Yellow Fin Tuna fillets 1 cup plain flour 1 cup beer ½ cup of coconut milk 1 litre of coconut oil Extra plain flour for dusting Method:
- Sift flour into medium bowl, gradually stirring in beer until smooth.
- Add coconut milk.
- Heat oil.
- Dust fish in extra flour, shake away excess.
- Dip fish into beer batter then deep-fry in hot oil until crisp and golden brown.
- Drain on absorbent paper.
- Serve with chips and tartare sauce.