Cook Islands Ika Mata

Fresh drinking coconut

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.

ika mata recipe

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.

"Raro" inspired fish'n'chips

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.

banana fritters and coconut sorbet

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.

19 Comments on Cook Islands Ika Mata

  1. LaVagabonde
    March 25, 2013 at 6:46 pm (11 years ago)

    That’s one thing I really miss about living in the South Pacific…Ika Mata. Or as they call it in New Caledonia – Salade Tahitienne.

      March 25, 2013 at 6:54 pm (11 years ago)

      Every Pacific Island seems to have their version. All delicious… This recipe is seriously simple. You should toss some together and bring back the memories. 🙂

      • LaVagabonde
        March 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm (11 years ago)

        I would, but I live in Hungary now. The tuna, if you can even find it, isn’t exactly fresh or good quality. I don’t even eat the sushi here. It’s just not good.

    March 25, 2013 at 7:05 pm (11 years ago)

    What a shame. I would miss good fish but, on the bright side, Hungary does have some fairly tasty sausages and cold cuts, no?

  3. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    March 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm (11 years ago)

    We ate so much of the coconut fish when we were on our honeymoon. I still enjoy it and love the flavour! 😀

  4. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen
    March 26, 2013 at 11:42 am (11 years ago)

    Coconut and seafood, the perfect combination! My husband does a mean coconut beer batter, perfect on big fat prawns.
    Haven’t heard from the Gurus for ages 🙂
    Gorgeous post x

      March 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm (11 years ago)

      Thanks Lisa, Prawns and coconut beer batter sounds fab! Must try next time the kids want an island style feast. x

  5. Cooker and a Looker
    March 26, 2013 at 2:16 pm (11 years ago)

    I tried ika mata for the first time last year at the auditions for a *cough* reality TV cooking show. It was fabulous and I’ve been raving about it since. Thanks for the recipe – I’ll finally be able to show everyone what all the fuss is about!

      March 26, 2013 at 7:29 pm (11 years ago)

      Hope you enjoy it as much as we do. 🙂

  6. Trish MLDB
    March 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm (11 years ago)

    Sounds delicious. my cousin moved to the Cook Islands for a few months but didn’t stay. Her hubby’s family was born there.

      March 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm (11 years ago)

      It is delicious. I’m sure your cousin would have a few great island recipes 🙂

  7. Have a laugh on me
    March 26, 2013 at 10:58 pm (11 years ago)

    I want to visit there one day with the kids, have to save a few bikkies first! Great and yummy looking food x

  8. Shelley
    March 27, 2013 at 4:45 pm (11 years ago)

    Oh that Ika Mata sounds just divine. Any ideas for alternate fish if yellowtail is not available?

      March 27, 2013 at 7:23 pm (11 years ago)

      Hey Shelley, The yellow fin is lovely but I think it would work fairly well with something like red snapper (like would be used in a ceviche) 🙂

  9. EssentiallyJess
    March 27, 2013 at 9:11 pm (11 years ago)

    Oh what a great mum you are to do that!!! I’ve got a huge hankering for a banana fritter now.

  10. Rachel
    April 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm (11 years ago)

    That dessert is sending me places. Thank you for linking up with my Eat. Pray Love linky party, don’t forget to do it again this Tuesday!

  11. Gaynor
    April 11, 2013 at 3:16 pm (11 years ago)

    Want to try some delicious Ika Mata? Or win your own trip to the gorgeous Cook Islands? Come along to the Cook Islands Cultural Showcase – free and fun, at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney Saturday 4 May 11am-4pm

      April 11, 2013 at 3:17 pm (11 years ago)

      The Eats Worlds will be there for sure!


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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