The Cook Islands are located in the continent of Oceania. It sits in the South Pacific Ocean and has Hawaii to the very far north, Pape’ete to the far east, New Zealand to the far southwest, Australia to the far west, Tonga, and Niue to the west, and American Samoa to the far northwest.
The capital is Avarua.
The official languages are Pukapuka, ingidenous Polnesian, and English.
The climate is generally moderate. Typhoons strike generally from December and March. The staples are coconut, raw fish, chopped vegetables, coconut cream, lime juice, bananas, mochi-type tapioca, papaya, cassava, arrowroot, chicken, pork, and taro leaves (https://lanniesfoodandtravel.com/2018/09/09/cook-islands-food/).
IKA MATA (https://www.196flavors.com/cook-islands-ika-mata/ and http://www.migratingkitchen.org/2012-exhibition/cook-islands/cook-island-recipes):
- 1 lb fresh tuna fillet, cut into 1” cubes
- 4 limes, freshly squeezed
- 8 oz coconut cream
- 1 large tomato, diced into very small pieces
- ½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into ½” cubes
- 1 stem spring onion, thinly cut up
- 1 tsp salt
- Place the tuna in a bowl.
- Add the juice of the 4 limes, mix, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
- Cool the cucumber, onion and tomato in the refrigerator until the tuna is marinated.
- Add the cucumber, onion and tomato to the fish and lime marinade.
- Stir in the coconut cream gradually, but not to overly saturate the fish.
- Season with salt and mix well.
- Serve fresh, and with cooked root vegetables such as taro, kumara, boiled green bananas.
COOK ISLANDS’ POKE (https://www.food.com/recipe/cook-islands-poke-457883):
- 8 average sized ripe bananas
- 2 C water
- 2 TBSP granulated sugar
- 1 C whole milk
- 7 oz. arrowroot (or cornstarch)
- 2 C coconut milk
- Peel the bananas and mash roughly. Add them to a pot along with the water.
- Bring to a gentle boil and cook until the banana assumes a purplish color (add more water if needed).
- Take off the heat and allow to cool naturally. Be careful near the end because the bananas can caramelize and/or burn. Also, the thick mixture bubbles & spurts so don’t get burned!
- Combine the arrowroot (cornstarch) & milk in a small bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the banana mixture into a large bowl and mash with the sugar.
- Add the arrowroot/milk mixture & mix well.
- Butter an 8×8 baking dish and pour the mixture into this.
- Place in a 375F preheated oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until set and golden brown.
- Take from the oven and cool.
- Take your baked poke and cut into 2” squares. Place squares into individual bowls and pour the coconut milk over the top.
Allow to soak into the poke and serve.