The sea air and activities have whetted your appetite. Now it’s time to try the cuisine of the islands. The local food culture invites you to a convivial and familiar tasting. It’s just like Polynesia: sunny and facing the sea. The tropical flavors will surprise and delight you. Through the meeting of Asian and Western influences, Tahiti has preserved its gastronomic charm. Let’s discover together the typical food in Tahiti.
Fish and Food in Tahiti
Fish in Coconut Milk
Of all Tahiti’s specialties, raw fish in coconut milk is the one that will accompany you throughout your stay. This dish combines two typical Polynesian foods that are the basis of the diet: Fish and coconut milk. Therefore, it is difficult to find something more authentic than raw Tahitian-style fish, which you can enjoy at any time of the day.
Most often, it is bluefin tuna, cut into cubes and served soured with lime. The tuna marinated in this way is eaten raw. Therefore, the fish must be very fresh. The recipe sometimes adds some raw vegetables, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. Carrots and an ounce of ginger may also be added. Finally, coconut milk is poured over the whole thing. Of course, the success of the tasting depends on the quality of the products. Make sure that the coconut milk is fresh, that is, made from freshly grated pulp and not from the package.
Raw fish in coconut milk, or “Poisson Cru” is the national dish of Polynesia. This dish is both a signature dish and a taste sensation. It is best eaten without side dishes or with some rice.
Hot and Cold Tuna with Sesame Seeds
The products of the sea and the lagoon are very popular in Polynesia. Fish is consumed without moderation and to our greatest pleasure. Bluefin tuna, in particular, enlivens some of the best culinary specialties of Tahiti. This includes the hot and cold tuna. The tuna is served half cooked, means: hot and cooked on the outside and cold and raw on the inside.
The tuna is cut into pieces and moistened with a lemon-soy marinade. Then it is covered with sesame seeds. Good cooking is important, as only the top parts are cooked, while the inside must remain raw. Finally, after resting, the tuna blocks are cut into strips.
The hot-cold tuna with sesame is surprising in taste and can be served with rice or some pieces of fresh fruit. The combination of flavors makes the dish absolutely delicious.
Meat and Food in Tahiti
The Fafa Chicken
In addition to the fish dishes, you can’t help but try the Fafa chicken. As the name suggests, it is white poultry meat with Tahitian spices. The chicken breast is marinated in fresh coconut milk and mixed with several leaves of Fafa, a spinach-like tropical spice plant.
This Tahitian specialty is quite simple to prepare and is best served with rice. It has the main advantage of allowing you to taste the leaves of the taro, the fafa. The dish is a convivial meal in Tahiti and the mixture of coconut, fafa and chicken is a delight for all.
Ma’a Tinito with Pork
Literally translated, ma’a tinito means Chinese Food. It is a reminder of the influence of the Chinese community in Tahiti on the development of the local food culture. More than that, this dish fuses the flavors and colors of different cultures, showing the openness of Polynesian society.
Ma’a tinito is a dish in which different foods are not mixed together, but are layered on top of each other. This includes red beans, soy noodles or pasta, some sliced green beans, and finally pork that has been previously braised in soy sauce. If there is no pasta, it is served with white rice.
Sweet Food in Tahiti
Coconut Bread Traditional Style
The coconut bread is a kind of brioche bread, a sweet that you can enjoy at any occasion. You can eat it for breakfast, during the day and also as a side dish at the table. Unlike the name suggests, this sweet treat is not baked with coconut and usually has only a distant aroma. However, gourmets add shredded coconut to enhance the flavor.
Coconut bread can be eaten hot or cold like a pastry. It can be finished with a spread, jam or coconut cream to maintain the intensity of coconut. This sweet dish is one of the specialties of Tahiti and an essential part of Polynesian culture.
Po’e Banana in the Traditional Way
Would you like a more intense sweet? Let yourself be tempted by the best Polynesian dessert. Po’e is a kind of fruit pudding flavored with vanilla and coconut milk. It is available with fruits and vegetables, especially as a side dish to the main course. However, in its sweet version, it is the Po’e Banana that attracts all the flavorful attention.
The bananas are mashed and then mixed with tapioca flour and vanilla seeds. The whole is then wrapped in banana leaves and baked in the oven. The result is once again surprising: a sweet dessert that is both creamy and gooey.
Share the Food on Tahiti Oven Sunday
If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity, you can participate in the traditional Tahitian oven. This ancient technique involves steaming food in a hole in the ground. The food is placed on red-hot volcanic stones and then covered with large banana leaves. The oven is finally sealed with bags of earth or sand to preserve the heat.
And what is cooked in a Tahitian oven? Everything: fish, meat, vegetables and cakes. The centerpiece is a small suckling pig, much loved by the Polynesians. All the specialties of Tahiti are here. Some dishes that need a shorter cooking time are wrapped in leaves or put in pots and stacked on the edges of the stove where the temperature is not so high.
The ritual of preparation is followed by several hours of cooking. During the waiting time, people play, talk and sing. Opening the oven is a moment of joy and one of the best ways to experience Polynesian culture. This event, not to be missed, usually takes place on holidays and many guesthouses and hotels in Tahiti offer it to their guests.
Discover Tahiti and Her Islands
Polynesian culture is rich and generous, and tropical flavors are part of the local heritage. Visit the indoor market in Papeete early and discover a festival of colors, scents and flavors. This is one of the must-see attractions in Tahiti.
The typical food in Tahiti will tantalize your taste buds. But the Queen Island of Polynesia has many more surprises to offer. Get introduced to the art of Taurumi during a Massage in Tahiti, visit the Heiva, the pinnacle of Maohi culture, and meet the Vahines of Tahiti. Start planning your trip to French Polynesia and contact us to learn more about our offerings.