Ota Ika is a delicious Tongan raw fish salad that is somewhat similar to ceviche. The major difference is it has the addition of coconut milk. It is a lovely recipe that is super simple to put together and akin to poisson cru.
Ota Ika is the national dish of Tonga. It translated literally means raw fish. It is not a surprise really, being a Pacific Island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, it has an abundance of fish.
What type of fish to use for your Ota 'Ika is a good question? Preferably a white fish like blue cod, snapper, mahi mahi or tuna. I used a cod for mine and it was wonderful. The main thing is that it is super fresh fish fillets. The filet is then cut up into small bite-sized pieces in small cubes.
I adore raw fish, I have always preferred it raw over cooked. Anytime I can get my hands on super fresh sashimi grade fish, I am a happy girl. I love it as sushi, sashimi, carpaccio and ceviche.
Although they call it a raw salad, I must say that if you add acid like this salad does with the use of either lemon juice or lime juice, it is technically considered cooked.
Part of the charm of Island life in Tonga is the ability to go out catch your own fish. Cut it up along with a fresh coconut you picked from a tree for the fresh coconut milk and adding what you have for a lovely light lunch.
Just like that after you pour juice from the fresh citrus in a shallow bowl that can also be a serving bowl you have Tongan ceviche.
Sometimes, in Tonga, they even use a touch of sea water in the salad for a bit of added saltiness.
Common ingredients used in Ota 'Ika aside from the fish and coconut milk is spring onions, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers. If you like it spicy you could always add additional chillies of whatever heat level you love.
Please note it is important to use coconut milk, fresh is best, but coconut cream is way too heavy for this light and delicious salad.
You can use limes or lemons whichever is your preference or a combination of the two is fine also.
In Tonga, food is the way hospitality is shared, you will never go hungry in Tonga. They make an abundance as it is considered a direct reflection of the family.
Looking for more recipes to enjoy with your Ota ika Tongan Raw fish salad?
If you would like to learn more about the bucolic country of Tonga, its traditions, food and culture be sure to check out “Our Journey to Tonga” there you will also find more authentic and ancestral recipes like this popular raw fish salad.
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Ota Ika A Tongan Raw Fish Salad
- 1 1b. Tuna loin Any fresh white firm fleshed fish filet. ie. snapper, cod etc. cut into bite size pieces
- 1 small green chili finely diced
- 2 small tomatoes, firm diced
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 1 small red chili finely diced and de-seeded
- 4 limes or lemons, juice of You can use either one or a combination of the two whatever you prefer.
- 1 15 oz coconut milk fresh is best but a can will do.
- salt to taste
- Put the cut up fish in a bowl with the juice of the lemons or lime make sure to cover the fish and put in refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.
- Remove from the refrigerator and drain the liquid retaining a bit to mix with the coconut milk.
- Add the other ingredients to the bowl and mix well.
- Add salt to taste and put back in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or longer for the flavors to meld together.
- Stir gently and serve.