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Tahitian Cuisine: Explore the Taste and Dine Like a Local

Tahiti offers a diverse range of dishes to indulge in, from sweet desserts to savory meals. They often host banquets, or what the locals call an “amara’a”, where hospitable locals present you with an assortment of delicious meals you’ll surely enjoy. It’s the best way to make the most of your Tahiti holiday package.  In this post, we’re going to explore Tahitian.

Tahitian cuisine boasts an array of influences from other cultures. Many of its traditional dishes use coconut, tropical fruits, taro, breadfruit, and fish, as they’re widely available in the area. 

We’ve listed some of the best Tahitian cuisines to try on your next holiday. You can find these dishes offered in restaurants, food trucks or roulette, and other local eateries.

Raw fish in a coconut shell for a Poisson Cru breakfast on a tropical island
Raw fish in a coconut shell for a Poisson Cru breakfast on a tropical island

Different Tahitian Cuisine Dishes to Try

Tahitian poisson cru

Poisson cru, known as ‘ota ‘ika, is Tahiti’s signature national dish, featuring raw fish marinated in lemon or lime. It is mixed with coconut milk for a colorful and flavorful meal, often paired with plain boiled rice or cabbage and carrot salad. Many consider it a Tahitian take on ceviche.

You can enjoy a serving of Poisson cru almost anywhere and at all times of the day. We recommend getting it served in traditional style. But you can also enjoy it in little sushi-type slices or pan-seared with roasted sesame seeds for additional flavor. 

Casse-croûte

Casse-croûte means breakfast or snack in French, but in this part of the globe, this baguette sandwich is considered a lunchtime classic for many Tahitian locals. Finishing an entire serving will surely leave you with a full appetite. 

This dish can be found almost anywhere in Tahiti, from supermarkets to kiosks that prepare them right in front of you as you wait. The finished product is a dish similar to the Vietnamese bánh mì, loaded with delicious, fresh ingredients. 

The most basic types of this dish are filled with ham and cheese, while other eateries offer casse-croûte variations packed with unique fillings, such as raw fish, strips of meat, or chicken in coconut milk. 

Chevrettes à la vanille et coco

Chevrettes à la vanille et coco is an entrée composed of peeled and deveined freshwater shrimp, coconut milk, and sliced Tahitian vanilla beans. It also contains rum, cream, salt, and black pepper. This nutritious appetizer is best served with rice or spinach on the side. You can also replace shrimp with fish or chicken if preferred. 

Po’e

Got room for dessert? Treat yourself to a sweet and creamy Tahitian pudding called po’e, made of banana and taro. This dessert is cooked in a hima’a or an underground oven until it thickens. Afterward, it is chilled and cut into cubes before being served with coconut milk sauce. 

You can substitute the banana with other tropical fruits, such as papaya, mango, and pineapple. This dish is a definite crowd favorite and the cornerstone of many feasts across the country.

Fafaru

Fafaru is not for the faint of heart. Do you think you have what it takes to try the epitome of Tahitian cuisine? This seafood meal combines crushed shrimp with sea or saltwater and allows it to ferment under the sun for two to three days. The mixture is filtered after marinating and left in the liquid for another three to eight hours before preparation.

The longer it marinates, the more intense its smell and taste become. The fish’s powerful aroma puts off many travelers. However, contrary to its pungent smell, fafaru has a tender texture and sweet and soft taste—best paired with bottled mitihue or fermented coconut milk.

Hinano lager

Hinano lager, derived from a white flower indigenous to the South Pacific region, is Tahiti’s traditional beer that’s been brewed since 1955. A serving tastes like your average beer, but better: crisp with a slightly bitter taste. You can visit a bar to enjoy it on tap or purchase cans and bottles of Hinano lager to enjoy it on the go.

Firi Firi

This Polynesian specialty is traditionally eaten for breakfast with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate on the side. It’s only composed of a few ingredients: flour, sugar, coconut milk, yeast, a pinch of salt and coconut water. The coconut water is responsible for its irresistible taste, while the coconut milk makes it soft and chewy.

Firi firi is traditionally shaped as a figure eight before they’re deep-fried to achieve a golden and crispy exterior. But you can also get them in long dough strips similar to churros. Firi firi is typically dusted with sugar or given a side of jam before serving.

Ahima’a

This next Tahitian cuisine dish is named after the oven in which it is prepared. It is an underground oven with volcanic stones on the bottom and wood and coconut husks on top. The rocks are covered with green branches and banana leaves once the wood has burned.

Ahima’a features a medley of ingredients, such as seasoned pork, chicken and shrimp. Breadfruit, fish, vegetables and bananas are individually wrapped in leaves and included in the mix. 

Pahua taioro

Pahua taioro is a simple but exquisite dish that uses either turbot snails or clams. In Tahitian cuisine, these ingredients are called ma’oa and pahua, respectively. They are pre-cleaned and soaked in fresh water for several hours. 

Afterwards, they are mixed with taioro, a Polynesian condiment made from a fermented mix of almonds, shrimp, grated coconut, and seawater. Garlic, onions, salt, and pepper are added for more color and an additional depth of flavour.

Poulet fafa

Often part of a pit barbecue, poulet fafa is a traditional dish in Tahiti of cut chicken pieces fried in hot oil. The chicken is removed once it turns light brown. But the oil isn’t disposed of; onion, garlic and ginger are cooked in it to absorb the chicken’s juices. 

The chicken is added back and cooked to perfection. Many locals combine coconut milk and cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken their sauce. Poulet fafa is typically served with sweet potatoes or taro leaves; you can use spinach if you don’t have these ingredients.

Treat Yourself to Delicious Tahitian Cuisine

They say the best way to get to know a place you’re visiting is by trying its delicious food. Tahitian cuisine is no different, so try every dish you can find. Thanks to the fantastic blend of Polynesian tradition and French influences, you’ll be left with a full stomach after every meal.

Last Updated on November 3, 2022

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