Start with a raw fish dish, then impress your guests with tarakihi sliders and healthy prawn skewers.

The warmer weather is definitely on its way and we've already had our first barbecue of the season. I was lucky enough to have a few days in Rarotonga recently and thoroughly enjoyed the local seafood. I had ika mata - Cook Islands' raw fish salad - just about everywhere I went. I was keen to have a play around with making it when I got home, so that's exactly what I did. Simply crumbed little fish burgers are a great way to feed guests at a party, and prawn kebabs on slaw is a very easy and healthy dinner. You could serve them with soft tacos and a couple of other salads for a larger meal.

Ika Mata

Ika mata. Photo / Getty Images
Ika mata. Photo / Getty Images

There are lots of versions of raw fish dishes from around the world. Ika mata was what I ate in the Cook Islands recently, made with coconut milk, tomato, and cucumber. I've added a few extras to this one, and it makes a great starter. You could also scoop spoonfuls on to corn chips for a delicious canape.

2-3 fillets fresh, firm white fish (about 400-500g) (I used trevally)
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 x 330g tin coconut milk or cream
Salt
1 red chilli, finely chopped
½ red onion, diced
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters
Large bunch fresh mint and coriander, finely chopped

Cut the fish into 1cm cubes, and place in a bowl. Cover with lemon juice and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

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Remove from fridge. Add coconut cream, a generous pinch of salt, and the chilli. Stir to combine and taste and adjust as necessary.

Add all remaining ingredients and mix. Serve immediately.

Crumbed fish sliders with kimchi yoghurt

8 slider buns
2 fillets firm white fish, cut into 8 slider-sized pieces (I used tarakihi )
3 Tbsp panko breadcrumbs
1 lemon
Cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
Crisp lettuce
½ cup natural yoghurt
2 Tbsp kimchi

Toast the slider buns and cut in half.

Toss the fish in the breadcrumbs. Heat the cooking oil to medium-high heat and fry the fish until golden. Squeeze over some lemon juice before removing from the pan.

Mix the yoghurt with the kimchi, add a squeeze of lemon juice.

Assemble the slider by adding the lettuce, fish, and then topping with kimchi yoghurt. Serve immediately.

Spicy prawn skewers with herby slaw

Spicy prawn skewers. Photo / Getty Images
Spicy prawn skewers. Photo / Getty Images

For the slaw:

½ red cabbage, thinly sliced

Large bunch each of mint, parsley and coriander, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp roughly chopped nuts of your choice

2 Tbsp seeds of your choice

Add all ingredients to a bowl, then toss in the dressing.

For the dressing:
½ cup natural yoghurt
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Pinch chilli flakes
Juice of a lime or lemon
Pinch salt and cracked pepper
Pinch smoked paprika

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl until emulsified. Taste and adjust as necessary.

For the skewers:
8 skewer sticks
32 prawns, shells removed
2 Tbsp harissa paste
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 spring onion

Place 4 prawns on each skewer.

Mix together the harissa, lemon, olive oil and finely chopped spring onion.

Spread or brush the harissa mixture on to the prawns. Fry on a barbecue or in a frying pan heated to medium-high heat.

Serve immediately on the slaw.