Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
This week, our country was Tonga, which is another archipelago (remember, like St. Pierre and Miquelon? and St. Vincent and the Grenadines?) in the Pacific Ocean/Oceania/Polynesia. Tonga is actually a kingdom, called the Kingdom of Tonga, and it is made up of 169 islands. It looks like a tropical paradise and a place I could definitely enjoy some R&R. There are no luxury hotels on any of the Tongan islands so visitors must be comfortable getting a fully local experience.
The national dish of Tonga is ‘Ota Ika. It is simply raw fish marinated in citrus juice, then added to a coconut milk base with fresh vegetables. I had never prepared a dish with raw fish before. I had to do some research to make sure it was safe. We used Atlantic Cod caught by friends and family back home in Newfoundland (so we knew it couldn’t have been contaminated in a factory or processing plant), froze the fish beforehand, and felt comfortable with the fact that any harmful bacteria not killed during freezing would be killed after a lengthy marination in lemon juice.
‘Ota ika is listed as the number one dish to try in Tonga in both this TasteAtlas article and this NomList article.
We used the following recipe, created by a Tongan couple:
Overall, our ‘ota ika turned out pretty good. I was so impressed by the texture of the cod; even though it had not been cooked in any way, the texture was not slimy as I had suspected. It was tougher and really enjoyable. I liked the freshness of the vegetables, especially the peeled cucumber and tomato. Coconut milk is not my favourite ingredient, but it definitely worked well in this recipe.
While we nibbled, we watched these videos on YouTube:
Happy snacking and stay tuned for next week!
Let us know what you think!