Located in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean is Fiji, an island country. The archipelago is comprised of over 330 islands and more than 500 islets. Because the country is surrounded by water, the local cuisine is typically comprised of fresh seafood. If you love sampling exotic and healthy cuisines then you will love Fijian dishes.
Fiji’s culinary landscape is comprised of different textures, spices, and ingredients thanks to the country’s multicultural population. In fact, Fijian cuisine is heavily influenced by Indian and Chinese cuisines. If you are traveling to Fiji and you are wondering what local dishes to try, consider our recommendations below:
Kokoda is made from fresh mahi-mahi cut into cubes left marinating in lemon juice for several hours. Before serving, fresh coconut cream is added to give the fish a nice, creamy flavor. It is topped with finely diced tomatoes, chopped red chilies, spring onions and a pinch of salt and pepper! This is a great dish for dieters or those who love seafood done ceviche style! Traditionally, kokoda is served on a large clamshell or half a coconut shell.
This dish is served on special occasions like weddings or holidays in Fijian villages. In the local dialect, lovo translates to “a feast cooked in the earth,” and that is exactly how this dish is cooked. The dish is made with lean cuts of pork, lamb, or fish and combined with vegetables and local herbs. The ingredients are wrapped in banana leaves and then cooked over fire. The cooking method combined with the banana leaves give Lovo a distinct smokiness and aroma.
Duruka is the edible unopened flower of a cane shoot. A duruka soup makes a great starter because it is light, tasty, and fiery. The shoots – which come in red and green varieties – are painstakingly collected by hand and are stewed into a flavorful curry. The curry brings robust flavors to the otherwise bland duruka. The shoots have an appetizing stringy, fleshy texture.
Nama is a type of grape-like seaweed with green colored beads. This seaweed is plentiful on the Pacific coast and is quite nutritious. Nama is often served as a garnish, combined in salads, or cured in fresh coconut cream, chili, lemon juice, and salt. However you want to take your nama, this seaweed will surprise you with its bursts of flavors with every bite.
Palusami is a popular comfort food made from taro leaves and chilies. This fiery dish is boiled in water and then mashed into a fine mush. Then, spices and flavorings are added including chilies to bring out the richness of the taro leaves. Finally, coconut cream is smeared on top of the mush or sometimes topped simply with cubed lamb meat. Palusami is very similar to creamed spinach though it is very spicy.
Taro is a staple food in Fiji. It is used in a variety of cooking preparation. The root of the taro plant is collected, washed, peeled, and then sliced to create taro chips. The chips are seasoned with salt and pepper and then fried to a golden brown. They are best paired with an ice cold beer. A healthier version of this dish is made by steaming the taro.