Citizens – the beautiful island of Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia; this overseas collectivity of the French Republic is sometimes referred to as an overseas country.
The island is located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the central Southern Pacific Ocean, and is divided into two parts: The bigger, northwestern part Tahiti Nui and the smaller, southeastern part Tahiti Iti. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. The population is 183,645 inhabitants (2012 census), making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.5% of its total population.
Tahiti is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The capital of the collectivity, Pape’ete, is located on the northwest coast with the only international airport in the region, Fa’a’ā International Airport, situated 5 km (3.1 mi) from the town centre.
Tahiti was originally settled by Polynesians between 300 and 800 CE. They represent about 70% of the island’s population with the rest made up of Europeans, Chinese and those of mixed heritage.
The island was part of the Kingdom of Tahiti until its annexation by France in 1880, when it was proclaimed a colony of France. It was not until 1946 that the indigenous Tahitians were legally authorized to be French citizens. French is the only official language although the Tahitian language (Reo Tahiti) is widely spoken.
If French Polynesia had a national dish, it would surely be e’ia ota (poisson cru in French). It’s on nearly every menu in the country and is a version of ceviche, the citrus-marinated raw fish dish of Mexico and South America but with the addition of coconut milk to soften the acidic edges of the flavor.
Citizens, this is not a difficult recipe at all and well-worth adding as an exotic meal as you dream of the sun-kissed islands of the South Pacific!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 pound fresh, sushi-grade fish: ahi tuna, yellowfin tuna, halibut or snapper
4 cups cold water
2 tbsp salt, plus more for seasoning
¾ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¾ cup whole fat coconut milk (fresh is best)
Pepper to taste
1 large carrot (3 oz), peeled and grated
6 oz. cucumber, seeded and diced
1/3 cup scallions, sliced into rings
1 tomato, seeded and diced, squeezed in cheesecloth to remove excess liquid
2 cloves garlic
1 small knob of ginger
Unsweetened fresh coconut shreds
1. Dice the fish into ¾ inch pieces, then cover with cold water and 2 tbsp salt (add a few ice cubes if the water is not chilled). Let the fish sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, squeeze your limes to juice them.
2. Drain the fish and pat it dry. Submerge the fish in fresh lime juice. Let the fish marinate, stirring occasionally, for 15-30 minutes.
3. While fish is marinating, prepare your vegetables. Reserve a little of each on the side for garnish.
4. Marinate the fish until the edges are opaque and the center of each piece is still pink. Drain the lime juice, then return the fish to the bowl. Stir in the fresh vegetables, coconut shreds and coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to marinate in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes.
5. Serve cold garnished with fresh vegetables. May also be enjoyed over coconut rice for a more filling entrée.