Located in the Pacific Ocean, The Islands of Tahiti are part of the French Polynesia. Spread across five archipelagos–which include the Society Islands, the Tuamotu Islands, the Gambier Islands, the Marquesas Islands, and the Austral Islands–there are 118 islands that comprise The Islands of Tahiti

Influenced by the expressive culture of their Mā’ohi ancestors, Tahitian culture is rich in dance, music, arts, and sports. Ancient traditions, inclusive of tattooing and drumming, play a huge role in French Polynesia to this day. 

Not only is the culture beautifully rich, but the splendid year-round weather that the islands benefit from makes the Tahitian cuisine that much more exceptional. With sunshine in abundance, the exotic culinary treasures are praised for their aromatic qualities and nutritional benefits–pleasing both the body and the taste buds. From their land to their sea dishes, the traditional cuisine features accents of fresh fruits, spices, and vegetables. 

Photo Courtesy: David Kirkland 

Also in abundance are fish. Whether from the lagoon or from the ocean, they are exquisitely fresh and often eaten raw. Sometimes marinated in lime juice and coconut milk as is in the destination’s famous national dish “poisson cru”. 

POISSON CRU

Photo Courtesy: @exotismes_to

Ingredients:

  • 500g of Red Tuna
  • 2 Tomato
  • 1 Small cucumber
  • 2 Green limes
  • 1 Onion
  • Coconut milk
  • Parsley
  • 1 Green onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions:

  1. Cut the fish into small pieces and soak it in seawater or salt water for 5 minutes. In a salad bowl, put diced tomatoes and cucumbers, thinly sliced onion, cut green onion and chopped parsley. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper and let soak for a few minutes. Drain the fish, add to the bowl and mix well with other ingredients. Add the coconut milk at the last minute.
  2. Serve immediately.

TAHITIAN TACOS 

© Tahiti Food Tours

Take you Poisson Cru a step further and make Tahitian Tacos with it. Over the years the Poisson Cru recipe has evolved to include elements from French cuisine, including carrots, onions, and tomatoes.  

To elevate your tacos, make up this traditional sauce. 

Sauce Ingredients:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp Perrin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco or Tapatio hot sauce
  • 1 lime 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Steps: 

  1. Make your sauce. Add all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix until creamy. You can always adjust the heat of the sauce by adding more hot sauce to taste. 
  2. Set marinade aside
  3. Slice fish into 1 inches pieces or cubes
  4. Cut avocado and mangoes into cubes 
  5. Slice onion into thin “julienne” style slices
  6. Add coconut milk until you have reached your desired consistency (not too “wet” or saturated)
  7. Combine these ingredients into a mixing bowl and add oil and lime juice. Season with salt and mix well. Put into the refrigerator to marinate. 

Putting The Tahitian Tacos Together: 

While your sauce is marinating, place tortillas into a hot frying or cast iron pan. Heat until they are cooked to your liking. You can also add oil and fry tortillas until crunchy like a tostada. 

After the tortillas are warmed, top with Poisson Cru and garnish with cilantro, pickled cabbage and the Tahitian sauce. 

TAHITIAN VANILLA BEAN SYRUP 

Make this syrup a day before to allow for the fullest infusion of vanilla (this will make a difference)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cups sugar 
  • ½ cup water 
  • 1 Tahitian Vanilla bean

Instructions: 

  1. Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved (approximately 3 to 5 minutes)
  3. Remove the saucepan from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
  4. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add to warm syrup.
  5. Chop the leftover bean into 1” pieces, add to the syrup and mix well.
  6. Let cool completely and keep at room temperature overnight.

Note: Syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

TAHITIAN VANILLA PUNCH

Photo Courtesy: Tahitian Gold

This punch is an island classic, a Tahitian spin on the traditional Maitai. It is made with fresh juices, dark rum, light rum, lime and authentic Tahitian vanilla. Store bought juices will work just fine! On the other hand, the Tahitian bean just cannot be replaced.

Photo Courtesy: Tahitian Gold

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh pineapple juice
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups dark rum
  • 2 cups white rum 
  • 1 cup Tahitian vanilla bean simple syrup 
  • 3 limes
  • ¼ cup Tahitian Gold’s Tahitian vanilla sugar 
  • Ice cubes

Garnish (optional): orange slices on top 

Instructions: 

  1. Make Tahitian vanilla bean syrup and set aside. 
  2. Add all ingredients, including cut pieces of vanilla bean from simple syrup into Large pitcher or Punchbowl and mix.
  3. Let rest overnight in the refrigerator. 
  4. When ready to serve, run half a lemon on each glass rim and carefully dip into a bowl with Tahitian Gold Vanilla Sugar.
  5. Pour over ice and serve. 

MANGO TAHITIAN VANILLA SMOOTHIE 

Photo Courtesy: Alexander Mils

The combination of ripe mango and real Tahitian vanilla create a fabulous ice-cold smoothie with a tropical taste and no added sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of frozen ripe and sweet mango chunks
  • ¼ cup plain, unflavored yogurt
    Note: If you prefer less of a “tang” use Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup almond milk 
  • 1/4 tsp “Tahitian Classic” whole vanilla bean paste

Instructions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend for about 1 min or until smooth.
  2. Pour into your fanciest cocktail glass and cheers!
Tama’a maita’i [translation:“Eat well!” in Tahitian]!!! 

For more traditional island recipes, visit tahititourisme.ca.

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Kaitlin Narciso is a Canadian content creator specializing in travel and conservation journalism. Through the written word, beautiful images, and captivating video content, Kaitlin tells stories from around the world. She has worked with a variety of tourism boards, travel companies and conservation organizations including Discover Los Angeles, Go Belizing, Travel Alberta, Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, San Ignacio Green Iguana Project, and more. From interviewing the creators of Netflix’s ‘Our Planet’ to the hosts of Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’, her passion for protecting our planet drives her content, aiming to inspire people to travel mindfully, while exploring and appreciating all the world has to offer.

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