Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tahitian fish delights

When I was a child, my father sometimes used to make what he called 'poisson Tahitien', or Tahitian fish, which basically was very fresh, very good, tasty white fish fillets,such as John Dory or bream or whatever, sliced thinly and marinated in lemon juice, salt and pepper, left in the fridge or other cool place for several hours and then eaten as was, for an entree or appetiser. We all loved it. At the time I'd never heard of sashimi or ceviche or other raw(ish) fish dishes common in other cultures, and nobody we knew in Sydney had ever heard of Tahitian fish either(I do believe though that it was inspired by an actual Tahitian method of preparing fish.) Indeed most people looked disgusted if you ever mentioned it--to such sceptics Dad maintained that the lemon juice 'cooked' the fish just as effectively as heat, and that he only ever used the freshest fish, but he didn't convince all that many people!
Now of course eating raw or raw-ish fish is widely accepted, as Australians have become used to such things in sampling Japanese or Mexican cuisine. I've become a fan of sashimi and ceviche myself, but I'm still very fond of Tahitian fish though these days I experiment with several different variations of it, using different sorts of fish as well, and not just the basics of white-fleshed fish and lemon juice. But I always follow the cardinal rule, drilled into us by our father: always choose the freshest fish, keep it in the cool, preferably in the fridge, and though you should let it marinate for a few hours, never let it stay for more than 24 hours uneaten. Despite having eaten quantities of Tahitian fish over the years, I have never ever had even the slightest queasy twinge from it--in fact the only times I've ever been ill with seafood or fish, it's been with conventionally cooked dishes(and in fact only in restaurants.).
I've varied the marinating liquid--lemon, lime, even orange juice, vinegars of different types--red wine vinegar for instance, makes a wonderful marinade for Atlantic salmon--and varied the fish too, from dory and snapper to tuna and salmon and trout, and added various seasonings as well as salt and pepper--herbs of all sorts and chilli, for instance, but also more exotic things still. And I also often add a touch of olive oil, especially to fish such as tuna.
The other day, I made two varieties of Tahitian fish the other day for a family get-together: a tuna one and a salmon one. For the Tahitian tuna, after slicing the tuna, I marinaded it in lime juice, coriander, ginger, and salt and pepper, with a little olive oil added(Quantities depend on how much fish you have, it needs to be covered but not drowning in it.). For the Tahitian salmon, I used balsamic vinegar and pomegranate juice and seeds, with a little salt added: salmon and trout are both delicious with slightly sweetish but tangy marinades, and the combination of the balsamic vinegar and the pomegranate makes the perfect mixture. Both of them were very popular indeed!


  1. Yum! Here's another husband is Tongan and this is how he makes it. Marinate the fish in lime juice. Then after a time chop in tomato, red pepper, some chilli, shallots or onions, coriander if you like, and swim it in a pool of coconut cream. The Tongan coconut cream is made by swooshing hot rocks through the grated coconut which makes it nutty. Oh boy it is good, but it's still good with any good coconut cream!

  2. Sounds wonderful, cath, thanks for sharing, will be definitely trying this one!