We’re having a pretty mild winter here in New England, yet I can’t help but long for sandy beaches as I write about Fiji. Gorgeous Fiji, I think I’m in love. The Republic of Fiji is located in the South Pacific Ocean, northeast of Australia and north of New Zealand.
Based on the pictures, it looks to be right about in the center of the most beautiful place in the world, this one goes on the future vacation list. Speaking of photos, it was suggested by several of my friends/readers that I should add photos to my blog. This sounds simple, but copyright makes life complicated, and I’m a big fan of copyright laws. So here are a couple of photos that will inspire you to add Fiji to your vacation list and hopefully no one will be upset at the use of their photos. Check out the websites – there are even more great shots on the sites.
The Republic of Fiji is comprised of somewhere between 300 and 333 islands (depending on the source you go by). Only around 100 of the islands are inhabited. I found it difficult to get really interested in the history of the islands because really folks, did you see that beach? Next stop Expedia to check out flights!
So let’s skip right ahead to the food. As you expect from an island nation, fish is an important part of the local cuisine. Mahi mahi is one of the popular fishes and I really wanted to use that for this recipe. Unfortunately, no luck locating mahi mahi, so I had to make due with halibut. Fortunately, I really like halibut, and they had some at my local Whole Foods – success! Fijians cook their fish in coconut milk which gives a nice creamy flavor, so I used coconut milk to create a marinade and to cook the fish. It gave a wonderful tender creaminess to the fish cakes but didn’t give an overpowering coconut flavor to the dish.
Given the location of the islands, you get the wonderful fresh fish and tropical fruits, but they also enjoy curries and touches of spice. I added a little Madras curry powder into the fish marinade and a little jalapeno into the salsa – neither gave strong flavors, just back notes that feel in keeping with Fijian cooking.
Lastly, I read in so many places that Fijians use a sauce called Miti traditionally with fish. It’s made from coconut cream and ends up really being more of a paste. Make sure you use the cream that is on the top of the can of coconut milk; don’t use the milk (it’s too runny). Also, don’t buy sweetened coconut cream; it’s too sugary and completely cloying.
The final burger is a lumpy cake with subtle island flavors that all blend beautifully. The family enjoyed the burger – even Dad said that it “isn’t bad”. As you are probably getting a sense, my dad is not one for effusive praise – he is a truly frustrating person to cook for. Luckily we’ve had some really good moments on this burger journey, so I’ve learned to watch what he eats and doesn’t eat and appreciate it when he’s willing to try crazy new foods for the sake of my insane project.
Milk from 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk
Juice from 1 lime
½ teaspoon Madras curry powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound halibut
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons flour
Naan cut into 8 pieces (warmed)
Pineapple/Papaya Salsa (recipe below)
Miti Sauce (recipe below)
Whisk first four ingredients together in a glass bowl. Portion the fish into 4 chunks and marinate them for 1 hour.
Heat butter in a large non-stick pan then add the fish and brown slightly. Add ½ of the marinade into the pan, cover and cook until fish is cooked through. Cool the fish slightly then add the flour and form the cooked fish into patties. Clean out the pan and heat a small amount of olive oil. Then fry the patties until lightly browned.
To serve placed the fish patties on the warmed bread, add a scoop of the Miti Sauce then top with the Pineapple/Papaya Salsa and another piece of warm bread
1 cup fresh pineapple diced
½ cup papaya diced
½ jalapeno minced
Pinch of kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour until ready to use.
½ jalapeno minced
1 spring onion diced (about ¾ cup)
Cream from 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk (don’t use the milk, just he thick cream)
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour until ready to use. The consistency of this sauce is paste-like.
If you like this burger you’ve got to try the Belize Burger, it is another amazingly fresh fish based dish but this one adds an amazingly tasty rice and bean cake, and avocado, I do love my avocado!
©Copyright 2012 Linda Monach