I previously wrote a blog about eating raw tuna in the Pacific Islands (the best in the world) which went like wildfire, so i’ve decided to redo the article! In this one I’ll be incorporating my love of uncooked tuna in the Pacific, but also looking at the wider raw tuna scene of the world.
Here’s to my favorite food!
The love of Raw Tuna
At 21, I moved t the Cayman Islands and was suddenly introduced to fine cuisine. It was at this time that I was introduced to rare (blue) steak and indeed the raw beef carpaccio.
It was therefore only natural that I would end p trying raw tuna. I tried it and fell in love. It has now been may favorite food for 20+ years.
The history of Raw Tuna
Tuna, or as they call it the “chicken of the sea” is the most commonly eaten fish in the world. In the UK I had only ever eaten tinned tuna. I remember seeing my first tuna in the kitchen of Bacchus Wine Bar in the Cayman Islands and saying to the German chef “what the fuck is that”, to which he replied “in its old life a tuna”. Tuna is huge, almost like a shark.
From what I can gather raw tuna was popularized by the Japanese, the general purveyors and inventors of the raw fish phenomenon. Sashimi, which is thin slices of raw fish has been eaten in Japan for many many hundreds of years.
Traditional raw tuna/tuna sashimi is served with soy and wasabi. This is the most famous and popular way to consume raw tuna, but is far from the only way to it.
My favorite raw tuna dishes
As I stated raw tuna is my favorite food, but aside from tuna sashimi there are a ton of great ways to consume raw tuna. Here are my favorite raw tuna dishes in order.;
- Tuna carpaccio – Similar enough to a beef carpaccio, but would you guess it with tuna! Add mozzarella salad, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil and his is a very classic Italian dish with a difference
- Kinilaw – Essentially a Filipino variation of ceviche. The tuna is cured in calamansi and served with onions, peppers and garlic. This dish is frankly amazing
- Marshalesse Poke – Like Hawaiian poke, but from the Marshall Islands A traditional dish from the region with raw tuna being mixed with spices and coconut milk
- Nauru coconut fish – In some ways similar to a poke you get a load of raw tuna and then mix it up with literally a glass of coconut milk but adding “Nauru salt” AKA an oxo cube. Probably the best food in Nauru. You literally drink the juice after.
- Tuna Tataki – Another Japanese dish and from the family of sashimi. Lightly seared so it is slightly cooked on the outside and coated in tea leaves. This is a very unique dish perfect with Wasabi
- Tuna steak (blue) – Another one I am simply n love with, particularly due to its simplicity. You take a tuna steak and cook it less than rare. Slightly cold in he middle and great with vinegar, or soy.
Raw Tuna in the Pacific Islands
Knowing that the Young Pioneer Tours, Least Visited Countries tour would be taking me to 4 Pacific Island nations and 6 islands in total. I was hopeful of a bit of raw tuna action along the way.
My personal first point of call was the Republic of the Solomon Islands. In which we explored the local market (a real highlight), with the fish and tuna. In particular, being abundant. It was a bit of shock that evening to find out the hotel did not have any tuna in stock specifically, the raw tuna…… The sashimi and ceviche they provided were still fresh and decent though.
On the first night of the actual tour, we were in Majuro. The capital island/city of the Marshall Islands is a pseudo-independent country that is heavily dominated by the USA and with using the dollar. We were staying in the Robert Reimers Hotel (whose menu was extremely diverse). But decided to head to the Marshall Islands Resort (MIR) whose sea-view and buffet came highly recommended. The buffet cost $25 but was probably one of the best value meals I have ever had. With the cuts of extremely fresh raw tuna sashimi being some of the best I have ever tasted.
Our next stop was Nauru which is an article in itself. Its food, it is extremely influenced by the refugees, migrants, and guest workers. With about 60% of the culinary options of Nauru being Chinese food.
The one (kind of) exception to this is the Menen Hotel or Nauru Hotel. Where we spent our last night and New Year’s Eve. On the last night, I went for the large Tuna Sashimi. Not the freshest I have ever had. They didn’t have wasabi (welcome to the food of Nauru). But it was decent and an interesting combo with soy and Tabasco…
My last indulgence into tuna heaven was in a random restaurant in Tarawa. The capital city of the beautiful Republic of Kiribati. The menu said, “raw fish”, enough of a red rag to my menu bull.
I was happy to learn that said fish was tuna. I declined the rice it could have come with and was served with glistening red supremely fresh tuna, soy, and wasabi to be eaten with a cocktail sword. And it cost AUD $9.50, with the beers only costing $3.50, and the friendly staff even letting me go behind the bar and get my serving jollies. Kiribati, great country, great scenery, and amazing sashimi!
Our final port of call on the tour had us going back for two days in Honiara, Solomon Islands, at the Hotel Honiara. We were greeted immediately by the 75 years old Chinese (although he had spent his whole life in the Solomon Islands) owner, and after a bit of a chinwag in Mandarin found out that he was not only a little bit eccentric but pretty kind, with a free extra room, and a complimentary beer being delivered right away by the pool (as well as complimentary WiFi and massage).
To say I already liked the Hotel Honiara would be an understatement. He informed us that that night there would be a buffet, inclusive of sashimi. No need to tell me twice.
Surprisingly after seeing the HUGE tuna at Honiara market, the sashimi that night did include tuna, but instead snapper, which was decent.
Overall 4 Pacific Island nations, all served a great sashimi. I was a happy G!