Ota Ika: Tongan Raw Fish in Coconut Cream

When I first saw the pictures of what I was to make, I was not excited. It looked rather gross.

Once I actually read the recipe for Ota Ika, I realized that this traditional Tongan raw fish dish is just another version of ceviche. And I really love ceviche.  Like that traditional Latin recipe, this is fresh, quick and easy to prepare. Perfect for summer.  The ingredient that gave a familiar flavor an unexpected flair was the addition of….you may have guessed it…coconut.

You can really use any fish or seafood you want: octopus, mussels, crab, shrimp, mahi-mahi, etc. Ahi tuna happened to be on sale, so that’s what I used.  This is always at the table for any significant event. For me, this significant event was dinner.

Serves 3


3 raw fillets of a firm fish like tuna

3 limes, juiced

4 lemons, juiced

1 spring onion, sliced

½ red pepper, diced

2 tomatoes, diced

Fresh cilantro, approximately a handful

½ cup coconut milk (I used light)

Salt and pepper to taste


1.  Cut the fish into bite sized chunks and place in a bowl. Pour the juices over the fish.

rawNot so appetizing…

2.  Leave the fish in the refrigerator to marinate in the juice at least two hours, stirring a few times. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let sit until the seafood turns white (i.e. “cooks”).

3.  Strain the juice off the fish.

4.  Add the onion, pepper, tomatoes, coriander, milk, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

ota ika

What did I think?  Well, it was tasty, though I’m not sure the coconut added anything for me. To keep it light, I’d probably just omit that next time.  So, I guess, bottom line, is that I prefer regular ceviche.

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