"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us."            

Tahitian Food



As you might imagine, Tahiti dining maintains a certain quality standard commensurate with its reputation and image as a tropical paradise in the Pacific. Hotels, resorts, clubs, and restaurants in Tahiti offer a multitude of varieties of cuisine influenced by the cultures that make up the demographics of this French Polynesian island chain. Uniquely Polynesian, French, Chinese, and Vietnamese dishes are all available at Tahiti restaurants, as well as other European fare, such as Italian. The decidedly French influence on the cuisine can be experienced around the island.


Dining in Tahiti is an absolute pleasure as the finest cuisine in the best traditions of French cooking and East Asian dishes, along with other European influences, permeate the island’s best eateries. Tahiti restaurants are well known for offering fine seafood dishes caught from the water that very day. Besides the local catches of fresh fish that are served everyday, tourists enjoy jumbo shrimp, clams, crab legs, mussels, oysters, scallops, and more. The freshness of the seafood cannot be denied and tourists who like to fish can bring their catch in to be filleted at the dock and cooked that evening.

You can’t mention Tahitian food without bringing up the many succulent fresh fruits indigenous to the Pacific islands. The islands are brimming with coconuts, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, limes, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and other citrus fruits. Many traditional Tahitian dishes incorporate the flavors and accents of these fresh fruits.

There are also a variety of nice meat dishes incorporated into the local fare. Tahiti has a robust local pork production process, so the pork dishes are very fresh and this white meat is worked into many of the favorite distinctly Polynesian dishes. Much of the beef and chicken is imported from New Zealand, which although it may not at first seem like it, is closer to the Society Islands than the United States.

People are drawn to the restaurants, resorts, and hotels in places like Papeete, Bora Bora, and Moorea because of the unmatched experience of shopping, relaxing, and dining in the paradise of the Pacific islands. Tahiti dining is enriched by the enchanting views of the lagoons that stream between the islands, the surrounding mountain peaks, the fields of flowers, and the crystal blue waters. Resorts are just as well known as some of the finest Tahiti restaurants for serving the best cuisine.

On your trip to French Polynesia, one thing you will not have a problem with is finding exceptional Tahitian food. The cultural diversity of the local fare will keep the discerning food lover delightfully surprised. Tahiti dining is only one part of the overall experience of a vacation in the French Polynesian Islands, a unique and romantic experience.

Poisson cru (ia ota) is the national dish of Tahiti, and can be found in most restaurants. This melt-in-your-mouth entrée consists of raw fish and diced vegetables soaked in coconut milk and marinated with lime juice. Chevrettes, another popular Tahitian dish, are tasty freshwater shrimp, which can also be found throughout on the beautiful native islands.

No amura’a (meal) is complete without a rich island-inspired dessert. The ultimate Tahitian dessert indulgence is po'e, a sweet pudding made of taro root flavored with banana, vanilla, papaya, or pumpkin, and topped with a rich coconut-milk sauce. Looking for something a little lighter? Try the mouth-watering French croissants or the tasty biscuit-like treats, kato, which are made with coconut milk. A cup of the local coffee flavored with vanilla and served with sugar and coconut cream complements any of these delicious Tahitian treats.

Les Roulottes, located near the wharf in Papeete, are a great way to experience Tahiti’s local cuisine and culture. These roulottes, or rolling restaurants, are colorful, electrically lit vans that offer the best inexpensive dining in Papeete. Both locals and visitors alike can be found dining on a variety of dishes, from roast pork and pizzas to chow mein and flaming crêpes.



Another way to sample authentic Tahitian cuisine is to attend a Tahitian feast, called a tamaara'a. At the feast, visitors will be greeted by traditional Polynesian singing, dancing, and celebration. Native Tahitian local dishes of fish, roasted pork, and chicken are cooked and served from an underground oven called an ahima'a. Visitors to Tahiti will receive a final touch of Tahitian tradition as the tamaara'a concludes with a full Polynesian show complete with exotic costumes and dancing.



                               POISSON CRU

The national dish of French Polynesia is poisson cru. While poisson cru literally means "raw fish" in French, it's less daring but tastier than the name suggests. The chunks of fresh fish are first marinated in lemon juice which "cooks" them slightly, then mixed with fresh salad veggies, and doused in coconut milk. Poisson cru is on nearly every menu in the country and in a way its flavor defines Polynesia - sweet, refreshing, tender, and exotic.

Most of the time poisson cru is made with fresh tuna but it can be made with other fish too. In the Tuamotu, it's often made with parrotfish and it can be made with jack fish, halibut or snapper. There are people in Canada who claim to have made it with fresh salmon with great success. Some people add chopped garlic or ginger, but most think that simpler is better - nothing beats the unadorned mix of lemon and coconut milk.


1 lb fresh yellowfin tuna cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice or a mix of both (the lemons or limes shouldn't be too sour or bitter)
2 chopped tomatoes
1/2
 small onion finely chopped
1 chopped cucumber
1 shredded carrot
1 green bell pepper thinly sliced (optional)
1 cup coconut milk (canned is ok, but fresh is best)
spring onion or parsley (optional)

Take the tuna chunks and soak in a bowl of seawater or lightly salted fresh water while you chop the tomatoes, onion, cucumber, carrot, and bell pepper - locals swear this makes the fish more tender. Remove the tuna from the salt water and place in a large salad bowl. Add the lemon or lime juice and leave the fish to marinate for about three minutes. Pour off about
1/2 to 2/3
of the juice (depending on how lemony you like it), then add the vegetables, and toss together with the fish. Pour the coconut milk over the salad and add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped spring onion or parsley and serve with white rice.


Po'e Recipe
Tahitian fruit pudding

Po'e (POH-eh) is a popular fruit pudding found at all traditional Tahitian tamaara'a barbeques. Originally the pudding was wrapped in banana leaves and baked in the fire pit. This simple baked version is easier in the modern kitchen.

4 to 6 servings

  • 6-8 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup coconut cream

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Puree the bananas in a blender or food processor. There should be enough puree to make 4 cups.
  2. Mix together the brown sugar and arrowroot or cornstarch. Add this mixture and the vanilla to the bananas and process well. There should not be any lumps of starch. Adjust sugar to taste.
  3. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and pour in the puree. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the pudding is firm and bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled.
  4. Cut into cubes and place into a large serving bowl or in individual bowls. Top with a dollop of coconut cream, a little more brown sugar, and serve.

Variations

Try substituting papaya, mango, pineapple or other tropical fruits for some of the bananas. Just make sure there is a total of 4 cups of fruit puree. Ripe plantains can also be substituted for the bananas. For juicier fruits, you will probably have to add more arrowroot or cornstarch.

Try wrapping the pudding in buttered banana leaves and baking it for a more original presentation.

Notes:

Fresh coconut cream works best, but since this is a quick version of Po'e, just remember that coconut cream is the thick coconut milk that rises to the top of a can of coconut milk. Don't shake the can before you open it and you can skim it right off the top.


If you'd like a slightly more complex version of this recipe that uses fresh coconut cream, just email a request or complete our "Contact Us" form and we'll be happy to send it to you.

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