You know the places you used to dream of as a kid. Blue lagoons, white beaches, girls with flowers in their hair etc etc? What if I told you a place like this still exists. On 15 tiny islands in the South Pacific you’ll find a thousand years of Polynesian culture sitting side by side with some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the world. And the best thing is, the Cook Islands are not overrun by mass tourism yet. Probably because it’s very very expensive to go there. The Cook Islands is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system in an associated state relationship with New Zealand. Their currency is New Zealand Dollar.
Here are some fun facts about the Cook Islands:
- The Cook Islands are the world’s second largest producer of black pearls.
- It is summer year-round in the Cook Islands. The drier months are from April to November with average temperatures between 20 to 26 degrees Celsius. The hotter, more humid months are from December to March with an average maximum temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. (Seriously??!). Oh yeah the ocean is also 29 degrees Celsius so swimming pool temperature! (Is this the actual paradise?)
- The official language on the Cook Islands is English, but many people speak Maori. Still there is concern of the youth thinking that learning Maori language is irrelevant.
- Cook Islanders are very religious (catholic) they have strong sentimental feelings towards their past, traditions and culture.
- Dancing and music is a very important part of the Cook Island culture.
Ika Mata is sort of a ceviche like salad. I absolutely loved it! I felt like I a wizard when the fish sort of cooked in the lemon juice :P. I put in the fridge raw and took it out cooked! TADAAA!! And it was yummy, tasted so summery and tropical. It would be perfect starter or side dish on hot summer day. Really something to impress people with and believe me it is so easy that you could train a monkey to make it! 😀
Ingredients: salt to taste, 1 cup of coconut cream, 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 kg firm fish (I used monk fish), tabasco to taste, 1 red onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 spring onion, 1 cup of chopped coriander, 1 cup of chopped mint leaves, 1 cup of parsley.
- Cut the fish into small dice and put into a bowl. Tip over the lemon juice and stir. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Pour the fish and the juice into a colander and drain.
- Return the fish to a clean bowl and add the coconut cream, salt and Tabasco. Taste and add more salt and Tabasco if desired.
- Stir through the onion, capsicum and spring onion while reserving a little of each to garnish. Refrigerate before serving in small bowls. Garnish, adding optional torn fresh coriander leaves