Culinary Adventures, Eats, Recipes
Comments 25

Prepare Ika Mata (Cook Islands raw fish salad)

Raw fish is delish

I fell in love with Ika Mata during our honeymoon in Rarotonga a couple of years ago. This raw fish and coconut cream salad is “cooked” in lemon juice and confettied with diced vegetables. I’ve eaten it a couple times in New Zealand, but never had the guts to make it at home until now. It’s absolutely a summertime dish and I’m glad to be able to cross it off this summer’s to do list. It was much easier than I anticipated. I don’t know what I haven’t made it sooner.

Some raw fish dishes from around the world (alpha):

  • Crudo, Italy
  • Ceviche, South America
  • Ika Mata, Cook Islands
  • Kelaguen, Mariana Islands (Micronesia)
  • Kinilaw, Philippines
  • Kokoda, Fiji
  • Ota ‘ika or Oka i’a, Tonga, Tahiti, Samoa
  • Poisson Cru or E’ia Ota, Tahiti
  • Poke, Hawaii
  • Tiradito, Peru

This recipe uses yellowfin tuna because it happens to be on special this week at Nosh, but you can use firm white fish such as kahawai or gurnard if the price is right. This is good eating, but can feel on the light side. If you are like me and hate feeling hungry after dinner, served this salad with garlic bread and a small bowl of soup.

Chili sauce is optional and you can use Tabasco. I used my good old Kaitaia Fire “Waha Wera” Kiwifruit & Habanero Pepper Sauce.

Ika Mata

Cook Islands raw fish salad

Serves 3 or 4

500g tuna fillets
1 lemon
1 lime
1/2 can coconut cream
Chili sauce
1/2 red onion (diced)

1/2 yellow capsicum (diced)
1 small tomato (diced)
1 spring onion (chopped)


  1. Cut the tuna into small cubes and put into a largish bowl (preferably one with a lid). Squeeze in the lemon and lime juice and stir through. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Add coconut cream, salt and chili sauce. Stir. Taste and add more salt and chili sauce if desired.
  3. Mix in the diced onion, capsicum, tomato and spring onion reserving a bit of each to garnish. Cover and refrigerate before serving in small bowls.


    • Bunny Eats Design says

      Hi Gene! Your recipe is actually one of my inspirations for finally getting around to making this. 🙂

      Oh baby, freshly squeezed sounds amazing. I had a go at making coconut cream when I was in Thailand. It took a bit of work and some interesting tools.

    • Bunny Eats Design says

      There’s nothing quite like gorging yourself on local delicacies while on holiday…and recreating them at home 🙂

  1. Tuna Sashimi A recipe for Japanese tuna sashimi, or raw tuna with a dipping sauce and a light daikon salad. Always use sashimi or sushi-grade tuna for this recipe.

    • Hi Mark, I’ve never eaten raw trout to be honest and the trout that I’ve tried in the past tends to have a brackish, muddy taste. Around here, the tendency is to smoke trout which hides that flavour. I’ve also read that freshwater fish can have dangerous parasites so that is something else to consider.

  2. Carly says

    Raw fish is a family favourite and usually prepared for our Christmas Day hakari. I have tried a few different styles over the years, some with big chunks of vegetables which is a cheap trick to stretching your fish, some with sweet chilli sauce added, it was gross, some with undercooked and over sized pieces of fish which was like eating slugs and made me gag. Now i make my own and I know what I do and don’t like and i’ve perfected my own recipe. First, i prepare the fish and start the marination process the day before it’s served. I like my fish cut into small pieces so they ‘cook’ evenly and all the way through. My fish must also be well cooked and firm so its marinated in lemon juice and a little fresh garlic overnight (12hrs min). I don’t like too much veg in mine, so i keep it very basic and just add finely chopped tomato, spring onion, coriander and fresh chilli and season. I guess with the coriander and chilli that makes it more of a ceviche but like i said i’ve taken the best parts from the different styles i have tried. Lastly I skim the top of the coconut cream from the can discarding the clear juice that’s settled in the bottom. That’s it! That’s my perfect ika mata recipe.

  3. norman says


    1. Fresh Water Fish Fillets: Is My favorite, from any local fish shop, about 4 BIG Pieces.
    First, chopped fish fillets in diced. And then poured it into a steel Bowl.
    – So that, it keeps the Fish-Nice & Cold when you put it in the Fridge later on.

    2. Lemons: A nice fat juicy lemons is My favorite, has a lot off Juice in it.
    Chopped 10 lemons in halfs. And then Squeezed them lemons so hard, so that all the lemon Juice is Squeezed, pouring all over on top of the fish-fillets, until it runs out off Juice.
    – And then use a t.spoon to take out the Pips(seeds).

    3. Grab a Spoon: And then Stirred the Fish-Fillets all over through the lemon Juice. So that the lemon Juice can absorb through the Fish-Fillets, while you’re stirreing it.
    – Now that the Fish-Fillets is done: Diced, Juiced and Marinated with Lemon Juice in it.

    4. Can of Coconut Cream Sauce: Samoan Brand Coconut Cream Sauce is The Best for Making My Raw-Fish. Poured the Coconut Cream Sauce all over on top of the Fish-Fillets only. Just poured it above the Fish level Only. DO NOT STIRRED, But just leave it Settled.

    5. Lastly: Chopped half 3 pieces of Lemon, Un-Squeezd, place it inside on top of the Fish-Fillets & then You’re Done

    6. And then FINALY: Wrap it with a Glad-Wrap. Put it in the Fridge, let it Settled, and then leave it Chilled for half an hour.
    – And then when You’re Ready, Go for It.

  4. ooohhhhh wonderful! There was an equivalent (or same) raw fish salad when lived in New Caledonia and I loved it. I was only 13 then so I never learnt how to make it. You bet that I’ll be having a look here to make this! xx

  5. Lisa smith says

    We eat this mostly on special occasions..same recipe but without Marinading the fish in lemon. Seasoning to taste. It’s a favourite dish among Maori people of New Zealand ..

  6. Nikki says

    We caught long tail tuna today. It’s marinating in lemon juice (+ a little garlic) right now. Thanks for the recipe and all your tips which are very useful because I don’t have lime, capsicum or spring onion onboard the boat, so it’s great to know lemon and coconut cream is enough. I thought I’d throw in celery tomato and fresh basil at the end. What do you think.., will the basil ruin it?

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