What is ika mata?
Ika mata is a traditional dish of the 15 beautiful Cook Islands made from raw fish, usually tuna fillet, marinated in a mixture of lime (or lemon) and coconut milk and garnished with raw vegetables, making it a very fresh and pleasant dish to enjoy during the summer.
How to make ika mata?
The tuna fillet must be very fresh as always when it is intended to be eaten raw and marinated. It should be cut into regular cubes, then covered with lime juice and the set aside for one hour. The lime will perfume the flesh but also cook it very slightly to make the texture more pleasant.
Coconut cream is added to coat the cubes of tuna fillet perfectly and red bell pepper, cucumber and red onion are added in cubes and slices. Then just season with salt and taste fresh. Ika mata can be eaten as a main dish or as a refreshing starter. Simple and fast, it is easy to prepare ahead of time and does not require a lot of ingredients.
The raw vegetables, the freshness of the raw fish and the lime are very pleasant. The coconut cream brings a lot of smoothness and also tames the sometimes strong taste of tuna. Ika mata is a clever way to initiate people who are often reluctant to raw fish.
The marinating time of the fish depends on the variety that is used. If the fish is firm and fleshy, 45 minutes are enough, in other cases the marinade can be extended to three hours or even overnight. In the case of tuna or mahi mahi, when it is fresh caught, 30 seconds to 5 minutes are enough.
What is the origin of ika mata?
The South Pacific Islands are known for their fisheries and the abundance of fish in this region, so the cuisine is naturally strong in seafood dishes. As the seafood is of incomparable freshness, it is essentially cooked quickly and simply to keep the taste as fresh as possible.
What are the benefits of ika mata?
Tuna and other fatty fish are rich in omega-3. Regular consumption of fatty acids can reduce cardiac arrhythmia. Fish is an excellent source of complete protein. The coconut also contains fatty acids and more specifically lauric acid, which increases the concentration of HDL in the blood, which is called “good” cholesterol. Its consumption makes it possible to better protect oneself from cardio-vascular diseases.
Nevertheless despite its light and refreshing look, with fat-rich products such as tuna and coconut, ika mata is still a fairly fatty dish that should be consumed in moderation. It is better to consume a small amount of fish and a larger amount of raw vegetables in this dish to avoid it being too rich.
The simply marinated raw fish is nevertheless a fragile food. When altered, it can cause food poisoning such as anisakidosis. Pregnant women are advised not to consume raw fish. The cooking with lime or lemon reduces the risk of food poisoning even if it is rare. It is essential to use a very fresh fish for this recipe.
What are the variants of ika mata?
Ika mata can be enriched with more raw vegetables such as cherry tomatoes and can also be garnished with fresh herbs such as finely chopped mint, chives or cilantro.
Tuna can be replaced by any fish such as sea bream, trevally, parrot fish, mahi-mahi, swordfish, sea bass or cod. Coconut cream is even better when prepared on the spot.
Raw fish dishes are very numerous in the Pacific Ocean and if the Japanese love it simply seasoned, the South Pacific islands prefer to marinate it.
These include Polynesian te’a ota, Malaysian hinava with lemon juice, fruit and ginger, kelaguen with chili pepper from Micronesia, Filipino kinilaw with garlic and ginger, as well as kokoda from Fiji Islands.
- 1 lb fresh tuna fillet , cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 limes , freshly squeezed
- 8 oz. coconut cream
- 1 small red bell pepper , seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes
- ½ cucumber , peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 red onion , cut into thin strips
- 1 teaspoon salt
Place the tuna in a bowl.
Add the juice of the 4 limes, mix, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Cool the cucumber, onion and pepper in the refrigerator until the tuna is marinated.
Mix the coconut cream and the tuna.
Add the bell pepper, cucumber, and onion.
Season with salt and mix well.