Raw Tuna Fish Salad, French Polynesia.

Today, we’re enjoying a nice and hot sunny Sunday in the South of France. Days like this one always remind me of the day I had for the first time this Polynesian Raw Tuna Fish Salad. Actually, as it is always made of tuna fish, and as it comes from French Polynesia, its name is just Raw Fish Salad.

That day occurred back in 2010, in Bora-Bora (island of French Polynesia), when my husband and I had booked a day-tour to discover the motu(s) around the main island in the lagoon, to swim with sharks and manta rays (yes, for real), and have an amazing snorkeling session at the local Corals Garden.

On the motu across Bora-Bora Bora-Bora from the motu across the lagoon

Our guide had brought us to his family’s house, beach, and actually own motu (smaller island located at the opposite edge of a lagoon, across the main island), and gave us a class about making Polynesian Raw Fish Salad with fresh red tuna (that had just been fished at sea by his brother in the Pacific Ocean). Although the recipe is fairly easy and simple, It will taste fabulous at the only condition that you get a top quality tuna fish steak for the preparation.

Polynesian Raw Tuna Fish Salad - before coconut milk

INGREDIENTS (for 2 portions) :

  • 150 to 200g of fresh red tuna
  • 1 raw yellow (or white) onion, thinly sliced and minced
  • half a green bell pepper, minced
  • half a medium cucumber, cut in 4 pieces lengthwise, then sliced (in small thin quarters)
  • 2 grated carrots
  • (a bit of sliced white cabbage; this is NOT from the original recipe, but if you’d like to have more consistency to your salad, this is the vegetable you can introduce to this recipe).
  • refined salt
  • the juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 can of coconut milk (200ml)



  1. Cut the tuna fish into 1.5 cm cubes
  2. In a big salad bowl, thoroughly cover the fish cubes with salt
  3. Press the lemons and pour the juice over the fish, gently stir a bit to roughly combine, then cover the bowl with plastic film and leave at rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  4. In the meantime, grate or slice and mince the 4 raw vegetables (plus the white cabbage, totally optional).
  5. When the half hour is up, spread the vegetables directly over the tuna fish, pour the whole can of coconut milk, and stir to combine well all the ingredients.
  6. You can eat immediately, or eventually leave it at rest another 15 minutes in the fridge (I like it better a bit cool, but I don’t like waiting when the dish is ready, so my trick is to refresh the coconut can in the fridge for an hour before use).
  7. This dish is traditionally served with Asian rice and eaten with bare hands (Polynesian islands style !), but you also can have it without the rice for a lighter meal, and you’re allowed to eat it with a fork !!

Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi, © 2015 All Rights Reserved.

Photos Gallery (click on any of the pictures to open the wide screen gallery) 

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