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'Ika Vakalolo' - traditional Fijian Coconut-style fish


A former Mtwapa resident now living on South Island, New Zealand has kindly
forwarded this 'highly recommended' recipe, which reminded his family of eating
out on the beach at Kikambala on the Kenya North Coast.

Enjoy this traditional Fijian dish from Robert Oliver’s award-winning
cookbook, Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific.


Lolo Sauce

half cup flour (optional)

six cups coconut milk

one tablespoon minced ginger

three cloves garlic, minced

twenty small plum or cherry tomatoes, cored and halved

one chilli, finely chopped

two tablespoons lemon or lime juice

three lemon or lime leaves (optional)

half cup finely chopped spring onion

two heads bok choy (Chinese cabbage), cut into six cm pieces



six 'mahimahi' (in East Africa known as 'dorado') or salmon or tuna fillet pieces, each approximately 140 g

three limes

sea salt

cracked black pepper or chilli flakes


Our correspondent explains: 'There are many versions of this dish.

'I love the one my friend Viti Whippy makes.

'She pan-fries fish fillets and lays them in a casserole dish with tomato, onion, chilli, lime, bok choy and coconut milk that has been thinned with a little water.

'This is baked in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the fish is cooked and the coconut milk has become saucy.



With this recipe, most prep can be done ahead and the dish very quickly finished at the last minute.

Walu (Spanish mackerel) is the most popular fish in Fiji: its firm white flesh is suitable for steak, fillet or raw preparations.

It’s terrific in this adaptation of Viti’s recipe, using a crispy, crunchy rice-flour crust.

Rice flour is a snap to make: simply grind white rice to a rough powder in a spice or coffee grinder.

Equally good with thick fillets of snapper, dipped into rice flour than fried.

Served it with gai larn and this amazing sauce with steamed jasmine rice on the side for a delicious feast!

Followed this up with banana fritters dusted with icing sugar and vanilla ice cream.

Absolutley decadent!


Posted by Merryn13 • 2y ago • Report

'I made this amazing coconut sauce with the island flavours of lime leaves, mild chilli slices, tasty spice and wholesome cheery tomatoes.

'It combined beautifully; not too thick, just right!

'Served with crispy fried swordfish cutlets, home grown bok choy (on the side - not in the sauce) it is a great dish for a Friday night.

'Fresh and delicious.'

This recipe is brought to you by the South Pacific Food and Wine Festival.



Interview: Pacific cuisine champion tastes
success in fight against 'food colonialism'

WELLINGTON (Xinhua) -- Is food political? In the tiny island nations of the Pacific, food is practically colonialism, according to internationally acclaimed New Zealand chef Robert Oliver.

But Oliver is turning the tide, not only aiming to reverse the flow of imported foods and cuisines into the Pacific, but to take the flavors of the region to the outside world through his award- winning books and television shows.

Last month in Beijing, Oliver became the toast of Samoa when he picked up the prestigious Gourmand Award for Best TV Chef Cookbook in the World 2013 for "Mea’ai Samoa: Recipes from the Heart of Polynesia" and his New Zealand-produced cooking show, "Real Pasifik."

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi paid tribute, saying:

"What he has done has recorded and elevated our food culture, our organic farmers and our country. We are both proud and grateful to him."

It was second Gourmand Award from the Madrid-based Gourmand International for Oliver, co-author Tracy Berno and photographer Shiri Ram after winning Best Cookbook in the World 2010 for "Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavors of the South Pacific," which celebrated the cuisine of six countries.

But Oliver, who was brought up in Samoa and Fiji, told Xinhua the greatest reward for his work was changing perceptions and improving lives in the Pacific islands, where the burgeoning tourism industry has often been blighted by second-rate Western cuisine.

"For years, New Zealand and Australian tourists came to the Pacific and wanted fish and chips, so the local cuisine was marginalized," Oliver said in an e-mail interview.

The chefs didn’t have the tools and the effects of food colonialism had displaced the prestige of the Pacific chefs’ own soul food."

However, "food colonialism" stretches beyond the tourism industry into local diets where imported fatty meats have replaced seafood, white rice has replaced breadfruit, and sugary soft drinks and "nasty, salty, no-nutrition-at-all" instant foods are making big inroads.

New Zealand chef Robert Oliver | Coastweek

New Zealand chef Robert Oliver with his award winning cook book "Me’a Kai: Food and Flavors of the South Pacific."

Oliver credits the term "food colonialism" to New Zealand author and artist Dr. Cath Koa Dunsford, who wrote of the " terrifying results" of a post-colonial diet, such as diabetes and other serious health problems, as "the price of moving from a healthy subsistence lifestyle into a colonial co-dependent lifestyle."

He quotes Dunsford writing of "a diet formed after colonials arrived and decided that it would be a clever idea to foist unwanted leftover fatty meats onto island nations because they would be cheap and a great way to get rid of food that first nations people no longer wanted."

Before Oliver’s first book, "Me’a Kai," there had been no " substantial Pacific regional food book" for about 30 years, said Oliver.

"This is where my work comes in.

"There is incredible cuisine all through the South Pacific, so getting it into the books helps the chefs," he said.

"Local cuisine requires local agriculture and this is where economic development comes in creating supply links between hotels and farmers is a big step towards Pacific prosperity."

Oliver has begun working with local organizations in the Pacific, such as Samoa’s Women in Business Development, on farm-to- table projects that could bring real benefits to local communities.

"I am also looking at a book on health.

"There’s no reason why a Pacific cuisine format that supports and promotes health couldn’t be formatted, much like the Mediterranean diet.

"Coconut oil is the darling of the health world and the Pacific is full of organic crops and amazing seafood it’s just those imports that have mucked things up," he said.

Oliver’s experience as a chef spans the globe setting up and running restaurants in the United States and the Caribbean as well as being a "consulting chef" in Shanghai for the New Zealand government’s New Zealand Trade and Enterprise agency allowing him to compare and borrow from different cuisines.

"The Pacific has remained small and ‘hand made’ no industrial foods so food safety and purity of the locally grown stuff is there," he said. "China has amazing cuisine that has been dynamic for ages."

He acknowledged "a tiny amount" of imported ingredients, such as olive oil and basil pesto, in his Pacific recipes, but "the Pacific, like the rest of the world, has global tastes."

At their heart, he said, they presented "real people and real culture of the Pacific."



We are always interested in your opinions, suggestions, comments or 
contributions - If you have a favourite 'traditional' recipe that might go 
down well along the East African Coast, do send it in to us and we can 
share your pleasure and treasure with our readers around the world.   


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