Cook Islands Style: Ika Mata | Wine Enthusiast
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Cook Islands Style: Ika Mata

Recipe courtesy of Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Cook Islands.

While in the Pacific paradise that is Aitutaki, there’s not a care in the world, unless you run out of Ika Mata. At Pacific Resort, what makes their ceviche a truly regional, Cook Islands-inspired dish is the coconut cream (made from husking, grating and squeezing fresh coconut) and red chili. The sweet-hot combination takes the traditional lime-marinated dish to new levels of complexity. As such, the wine pairing needs to be less complicated or the taste buds get confused. Lawson’s Dry Hills Pinot Gris from New Zealand is the resort’s wine pairing of choice for its full but smooth body alongside a floral finish with hints of pear, which bring out the silkiness of the coconut and tone down the spiciness of the chili.


1¾ to 2 pounds yellow fin tuna (fillet, skin and bone removed)
½ cup plus 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup diced tomatoes
½ cup chopped red or green bell pepper
1 stalk spring onion
6 cups coconut cream, homemade using your favorite recipe, or store-bought coconut milk can be used as a substitute
1 finely chopped red chili
1 small bunch of fresh, chopped coriander
¼ cup onion, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Coconut shells and fresh lemon slices, for serving
Cut the tuna into ½-inch pieces.


Place the tuna and lemon juice in large ceramic or glass bowl and toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for an hour to marinate, tossing occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Remove the fish from the fridge and add the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, coconut cream and chili, stirring gently to combine. Add in the coriander and spring onion. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve in ½ a coconut shell with fresh sliced lemons. Serves 10.