10 Must-Try Local Foods In Fiji
By Jennifer Liu
Posted 19 Apr 2016
Most travellers flock to Fiji for the sun, beaches and snorkelling, but did you know that the South Pacific island country is also a haven for delicious local eats? Heavily inspired by what the ocean has to offer, fish is a hero delicacy in Fiji in addition to root vegetables like sweet potato and taro, and exotic fruits like coconut and bananas. Traditional local cuisine is influenced by Indo-Fijian culture, and so don’t be surprised to see curry dishes on the breakfast menu.
If you’re travelling to Fiji for the first time, here are 10 things you should eat and drink.
Taro is a beloved staple for Fijians and has been part of the local diet for centuries – its cultural importance is so significant that there’s even a dedicated holiday in May called Taro Day. You can enjoy taro in various forms, whether it’s steamed (the healthier version) or fried as fritters and potato chips – the latter pairs extremely well with local Fijian beer (Fiji Bitter or Fiji Gold).
Charred venisan kokoda with sea grapes
Kokoda (pronounced as ko-kon-da in Fiji) is a traditional Fijian dish of raw Mahi-Mahi fish marinated in lemon or limejuice, served on a bed of lettuce or with fresh fruit salad. This dish is topped with fresh coconut cream to create a rich creamy flavor, with the addition of tomatoes, spring onion and chilli. Kokoda is commonly referred to as Fiji’s ‘Coconut Ceviche’ and served as a popular entrée to cleanse the taste palate for following courses. At the InterContinental Hotel resort guests can take part in a complimentary Kokoda cooking class to sample this simple but delicious seafood dish.
Rourou is a nutritious meal made from taro leaves soaked in coconut milk and blended with cooked onion, chilli and spices. Similar to spinach, taro leaves are a popular addition to Indo-Fijian curries. You will often find rourou served as a side dish during buffet-styled dinners. If you’re keen to try this out amongst other local Fijian dishes, head to Nadina Authentic Fijian Restaurant in Port Denarau where you can enjoy dinner over sunset.
Similar in appearance to asparagus and often known as bush asparagus, duruka is a staple vegetable to the Fijian diet and is commonly served with fish that has been soaked in coconut milk. The edible part of the grass-like plant is the enclosed flower, which needs to be stripped and then boiled. For some of the best authentic Fijian food, Laucala Island has five restaurants and grows as much produce on the island as possible. The island also boasts some of the best views in Fiji with all the restaurants looking out to neighbouring islands, the reef and the glorious Pacific Ocean.
Fijian Kava Ceremony
Kava is a popular local beverage in Fiji, and is also known as a ceremonial drink. Made from the root of the Piper Methysticum, kava is said to induce a numbing effect in the mouth and promote muscle relaxation and drowsiness. An ideal time to drink the beverage would be at night, close to bedtime. Kava ceremonies are offered at most hotels, resorts and during day trips, however keep in mind that there are local customs and etiquette to adhere to.
If you travel to Fiji, be sure to take advantage of the abundance of coconuts. Coconut is heavily relied upon in Fijian cuisine and is also exported, making it a great source of income for the country. All aspects of the coconut can be consumed; the water of the fruit is especially delicious because it is fresh from the tree.
Nama, Sea Grapes
Nama is a seagrass that looks like tiny grapes, which bursts in your mouth with an explosion of flavours. Typically harvested in the Yasawa Islands, nama can be found as a complement to food on buffet tables and is often served as a garnish. Be sure to add them to fresh food like salads for a flavoursome boost.
8. Noni Juice
Touted as a health elixir, noni juice is native to the Pacific Islands and Polynesia, and used as an herbal health tonic. Noni juice is said to help boost the immune system due to its rich antioxidant profile and can also help to cleanse the digestive tract.
9. Cassava Cake
Cassava is a woody shrub that is better known as tapioca. There are bitter and sweet varieties of cassava - the root provides the sweetness and is used to make cakes in Fiji. Many resorts will offer this treat at afternoon tea or for desert.
Lovo is not a food but rather a traditional way of eating that directly translates to ‘feast cooked in earth’. Meat, chicken, fish or vegetables are prepared and wrapped in banana leaves and left to cook in a hot pit underneath the ground. As a result, food that’s prepared in this manner is often infused with a distinct, smokey flavour. Most resorts and hotels in Fiji will offer a Lovo style meal and is typically included in day trips to islands. A notable Lovo experience is at the Shangri La on the main island, which includes an entertaining night of Polynesian dancing and fire displays.