Sampling the local fare is an essential ingredient in my travel experiences. In fact, I try to immerse myself in local cuisine for at least two meals a day (because I am firmly attached to standard western breakfast foods). I am the first to try a national dish and occasionally enrol in a cooking class while abroad. I stumbled upon the following seafood dishes in their native locations, and the experiences were so memorable I had to share them with you here.
Seafood Straight From The Ocean – Cook Islands
My husband and I honeymooned on lesser visited Pacific Ocean paradise, the Cook Islands. While gazing at a spectacular sunset, we ordered a sample platter of local cuisine. While for the most part the meal disappointingly consisted of a lot of potato and curry, one stand out dish made it into my heart forever: Ika Mata. I ordered that refreshing raw fish salad every evening for rest of our stay no matter where on the island of Rarotonga we dined. If you are a fan of sashimi or ceviche you are going to love Ika Mata! The fish is cured over several hours by the acid in a lemon juice marinade, and served dressed in coconut milk with a simple salsa. There are many variations, in addition to similar dishes served in Fiji, Tahiti and other Polynesian islands under localised names.
After watching an Ika Mata cooking demonstration at Manuia Beach Resort where I stayed on Rarotonga, I trawled through a number of recipes to find the closest reflection of what I saw and tasted. This modest publication was almost lost amongst the modernised and tweaked versions, but I found it here! The true beauty of this dish is that it is simple enough for even a kitchen miscreant like myself to prepare.
Run A Muck On A Fish Amok – Cambodia
I had no expectations for Khmer food and was delighted to find it shared many flavours with my favourite Thai dishes while registering much milder on the spicy heat metre. I tried my first Fish Amok on our last night in Cambodia, which is such a shame as this coconut fish curry is a flavoursome meal, and one I have not had the pleasure of experiencing since. The cooking process is a little advanced for one so average in the kitchen, and I have failed to find myself a Cambodian restaurant close to home, therefore I can only point you in the direction of a reliable culinary source. Vietnamese Australian chef Luke Nguyen cooks up a Fish Amok in this video that positively makes my mouth water in memory of the one I devoured.
I thoroughly recommend you give these seafood dishes a try while you are in their originating corner of the world because it is unlikely you will get a chance while at home. Unless of course, you are an enthusiastic cook, in which case I hope you give the suggested recipes a whirl. See more foreign cuisine discoveries here.
Peace, love and inspiring travel,