TNZ Newsletter
TNZ Newsletter
Home Travel Inspiration

5 South Pacific culinary specialities

On a culinary tour of the South Pacific islands you’ll be impressed with the fresh local produce and unique methods of cooking.

On a culinary tour of the South Pacific islands you’ll be impressed with the fresh local produce and unique methods of cooking.


Eating in the South Pacific conjures up romantic images of sitting on a beach with a fresh coconut, eating fried taro from a giant clam shell or tucking into succulent slow-roasted pork cooked in a Lovo.

Here’s our guide to 5 South Pacific specialities and how to enjoy them.


1. Kokoda


There are many variations of the popular South Pacific dish, which is a fixture on most menus throughout the islands. Similar to ceviche, Kokoda (pronounced ‘ko-kon-da’) is made up of raw fish and a dressing called ‘Miti’ which is made from a thick coconut cream with onions, lime juice, salt and chillies.

The raw fish is ‘cooked’ by marinating it in citrus juice – a widely-used technique across the globe. Different Pacific Islands have different styles, but all generally involve sharp citrus juice, coconut cream and chunks of a white-fleshed, locally caught fish.


2. Breadfruit


An important starch staple of the South Pacific, breadfruit has been hailed as the new superfood.

It is rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as being a high source of gluten-free carbohydrate and protein. The fruit, which is widely eaten throughout the Pacific Islands, has a lumpy green flesh and potato-like texture.

Before being eaten, it is roasted, baked, fried or boiled. Once cooked it tastes similar to freshly baked bread and is best enjoyed warm and dipped in coconut milk.


3. Lovo


A Fijian version of an Aussie BBQ, Lovo (or Umu) is the method of cooking meats, seafood and vegetables. Traditionally, a makeshift underground oven is made by digging a hole into the ground and lining it with coconut husks, which are then lit and covered by stones.

Fresh fish, pork or chicken is wrapped in banana leaves then placed on top of the heated stones that are covered in dirt. Many resorts use this traditional method to cook food, resulting in succulent tasting, flavoursome dishes.

It is commonly used in local villages as the centre of a feast for communal celebrations such as weddings or festivals.


4. Taro


Taro is a heavy, potato-like root vegetable.Thought to have been originally cultivated more than 7000 years ago, it has a slightly sweet flavour and is similar in texture to potato.

It is either mashed and boiled or deep-fried and eaten like chips – a popular snack for tourists. Locals enjoy a healthier version of taro which is steamed or boiled in coconut milk.

Don’t leave without trying the traditional, flavour-packed dish called ‘kolokasi’, which is a delicious chicken and taro stew.


5. Coconut


The grated coconut flesh, as well as fresh coconut milk, is the main ingredient in both sweet and savoury Pacific Island dishes.

Favourites include coconut milk based seafood dishes and creamy coconut desserts. Po’e (pictured above) is a traditional Tahitian pudding that combines banana, vanilla, sugar and coconut cream into a decadent sweet treat – a must try.

For a satisfying and tasty afternoon snack buy coconut cream puddings which are sold from the side of the street and wrapped in banana leaves or a tropical fruit shake which mixes coconut flesh with mango, papaya or banana.

What are your favourite South Pacific foods? Have you made any of the traditional dishes at home?