Passport for Your Palate-The South Pacific’s Poisson

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I have a taste for travel. That is to say when I travel I like to taste. One of my favorite things to do is try the local food no matter which destination I land in. For me, slipping into the culture and habits of the people makes the trip all the more fascinating. Often a destinations food can be it’s true definer.

What is South Pacific Poisson?

While visiting French Polynesian’s Islands of Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and Le Taha’a, I couldn’t have been more excited to discover that their famed delicacy is Poisson Cru. Poisson Cru literally means raw fish. Being a major fish lover, especially for raw fish, I was delighted when told I must try their Poisson Cru.

Poisson Cru is a famous Tahitian dish

similar to Latin Ceviche, Hawaiian Poke or Kokoda. It consists of raw fish marinated in coconut milk and citrus juice. The coconut milk gives it a softer texture. One try of this dish and you will be craving it! For me, finding out that it was available on nearly every menu, meant I could have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I did!

The dish is fairly easy to replicate at home, but won’t taste nearly as good as having it in the island backdrops of the South Pacific. Using simple ingredients (the fresher the better) with minimal preparation time you are going to want to try this dish at home.

Here is a recipe from I have found and made.

Poisson Cru

Takes: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
1¾ pounds of fresh tuna (sushi grade)
½ cucumber (3½ ounces)
1 tomato (1¾ ounces)
1 green pepper
1 large onion
8 limes (juiced)
1 glass coconut milk
Salt and pepper
Dice the fish into ½-inch cubes, rinse with fresh water, drain and place in a large bowl.
Squeeze the limes and pour the juice over the fish, mix well and chill 20 minutes in refrigerator.
Cut onion and green pepper into thin slices, cut tomato into small cubes, remove seeds from cucumber and cut into thin half-moons.
Drain some of the lime juice, add the vegetables and season with salt and pepper.
Add the coconut milk five minutes before serving.
Serve chilled. Present on a bed of lettuce, in a coconut shell or your prettiest bowl.

For another fabulous poisson dish try Kokoda.

It is a similar recipe to Poisson Cru (Marinated fish in Coconut Cream) that I received from Melissa Watt with Travel2 after our trip to French Polynesia in December 2014. Kokoda is a refreshing dish from Fiji. This recipe uses coconut cream instead of milk, white fish and less vegetables.

1kg Fish Fillet (White Fleshed Fish)
Half cup lime juice (fresh)
1 coconut crème
1 Tbsp Red capscium finely chopped
1 Tbsp Green capsicum finely chopped
1 Tbsp Red onion finely chopped
1 Chili finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut fish into small cubes
Place fish pieces in a bowl and marinate 100ml of lemon juice and a little salt
Store marinated fish in refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours (best overnight)
Wash fish and drain the water out
Mix with coconut crème, capsicum, onion, chili, remaining lemon juice, salt and pepper
Serve chilled immediately & garnish with twisted slice of lime


Updated 8/30/2020

Lisa Rossmeissl is the owner of Boomerang Escapes, a home-based agency located in Old Bridge, New Jersey with agents in TN, MS, and WI. 

She has been a professional travel consultant since 2008 and specializes in Australia and the South Pacific. Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Fiji, and Cook Islands are among the specialist certificates she holds.  Her agency’s focus is on creating custom itineraries with their client’s wants, desires, and budgets in mind.  She and her planners believe in getting to know the traveler to ensure they have a vacation to remember.  With each planner specializing in a different market area, Boomerang Escapes can offer a wide variety of leisure vacation planning.

Lisa RossmeisslPassport for Your Palate-The South Pacific’s Poisson

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