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A bowl of Oka I’a (Samoan Raw Fish)

I made a bowl of Oka I'a (raw fish) today with a gift of freshly caught snapper. It was the first catch of the season. This is a refreshing dish for a summery day. And one which is loved all over the Pacific. Each island has its own name for it. I have eaten it in Samoa, but also Fiji and The Cook islands.

The fish does have to be very fresh for this recipe. It looks cooked because the lemon or lime juice turns it an opaque white and tenderises it. But it remains raw.

It is essential to allow time for the citrus juice to do its work for at least two or three hours. Or the snapper can be left to marinate in the fridge overnight.

There are lots of variations on this recipe. I added more tomatoes than most and didn’t add any cucumber or coriander/parsley. It's really a matter of personal taste.

This recipe can easily be doubled, trebled or quadrupled depending on the catch of the day.

Oka I'a (Samoan Raw Fish)

Serves Two:


250 gm. of snapper (skin and bones removed and chopped into bite sized chunks)
1/4 cup of lemon/lime juice ( I used lemon juice)
1/4 onion (finely chopped)
200 gm. of tomatoes (deseeded and chopped into dice)
1 spring onion (finely sliced)
1/4 cup of coconut milk
Salt to taste


Marinate the snapper and onion in lemon juice and leave in the fridge until it turns white and opaque (About 3 hours or it can be left overnight in the fridge)

Just before serving drain off the juices and mix in the diced tomatoes, spring onion, and salt to taste.

Pour over 1/4 cup of coconut milk.

It can be served immediately or put back in the fridge to chill for a little while.

Recipe by Lyn Potter
Read more from Lyn at

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