Poisson cru is translanted as "raw fish" in French. In Tahitian it is called "ia ota (ee-ah oh-tah)." It is generally considered the national dish of Tahiti and the islands of French Polynesia. It is similar, but distinctly different from Latin ceviche or Hawaiian poke. The same dish is called "oka i'a" in Samoa.
Poisson cru is made with the freshest of ingredients as found in the islands of Tahiti. While most commonly made with raw fresh tuna it can also be prepared with numerous other fish such as crab ("ota pa'a/paka"), eel ("ota pusi"), lobster ("ota ula"), mussels ("ota pipi/maso"), octopus/squid ("ota fe'e/feke"), prawns ("ota ulavai"), and sea urchin ("ota vana/tuitui"). If none of those are available you can make it with jack fish, halibut, salmon or snapper.
Important, however, is that the fish is fresh and free of bacteria. In certain areas of the world the raw fish is frozen for a few days to kill any bacteria before use.
In Tahiti, however, the dish is generally made with raw tuna and diced vegetables soaked in coconut milk and marinated briefly with lime juice. It can be found in most restaurants throughout the islands.
Eating poisson cru is one of our picks for the Top Things to Do in Tahiti. You will savor it during your visit and crave it when you head home. Luckily, you can easily make it yourself.
- 1.75 pounds tuna (fresh sushi-grade)
- 1/2 cucumber (3.5 ounces)
- 1 tomato (1.75 ounces)
- 1 bell pepper (green)
- 1 large onion (2.8 ounces)
- 8 limes (juiced)
- 1 glass of coconut milk
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Dice the fish into ½-inch cubes, rinse with fresh water, drain and place in a large salad bowl. Some recipes call for a little salt in the water, but this is optional and a matter of taste.
- Squeeze the limes and pour the juice over the fish, mix well and chill 15 - 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.
- Five minutes before serving, add the coconut milk.
- Present on a bed of lettuce, on individual plates or, even better, in a coconut shell! Serve chilled.
About the Author
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York City–based freelance travel writer and editor who has spent her life pursuing her two main passions: writing and exploring the world.