Fiji is a food-rich country. Villages have crops to feed their extended families, and the food is super fresh. Before I got to the island, I really didn’t have much idea of what to eat during a trip to Fiji, as the trip kind of snuck up on me and I didn’t have to time to much research on Fiji food. But as the trip went on, and I scarfed down seafood and fish and fruit and everything in between, I quickly began to realize that Fiji is not just a beautiful, scenic place. Indeed, Fiji cuisine is some of the yummiest food I’ve had in a long time.
Fresh, fresh, fresh. Everything I ate in Fiji was super fresh and high quality. And just as amazing, I’m sure most of the ingredients were organic as well. Since Fiji is such a food rich country, crops grow even by the side of the road, ready to be picked. The seafood is fresh caught (even on our snorkeling/boat trip, they had a net dragging behind the boat). I was actually a little sad to eat when I got home.
Fijian cuisine is comprised of a few different types of food. You’ve got traditional Fijian food, Indian influences and food, and, of course, seafood. Here are some of the top things to sample when you visit the island.
Think cerviche mixed with fresh coconut milk. I don’t like coconut but it was actually pretty darn tasty. I received this Fijian food recipe and others when we did a cooking class at Flavours of Fiji Cooking School (highly recommend) and we had some Kokoda at a local traditional Fijian cuisine restaurant. The fish is Mahi Mahi or other fresh caught fish and it is marinated in citrus then mixed with coconut milk, onions, tomato, and chilis. This is considered the national dish of Fiji.
Pineapple and other Fiji fruit
Now I’ve had some good pineapple this year. In May, I was in Hawaii, where they’ve got bomb pineapple that they don’t even export to the mainland; they save it for themselves. That being said, I would venture to say…
Fiji pineapple is about that life.
I think it is actually better than the pineapple in Hawaii. This was a shocker. But it’s not the only Fiji fruit that is delicious. They also have excellent mangos, papaya, and other citrus fruits. Eat as many fruits as possible, including smoothies and in cocktails.
The fresh lobster is absolutely delicious. My friends and I went to a local hot spot and had the lobster and other seafood multiple times. This particular presentation was with a garlic butter and it was delish!
Rourou is made of taro leaves and is prepared similar to spinach, but better in my opinion. This was another dish we made at the cooking school and it was an immediate hit for the group. With the local chilis in the dish, it has a kick to it that was unexpected but took the dish up another level. I am looking for taro leaves locally so I can make some here, as it is a quick and easy prep but was one of my favorites on the trip.
Lovo: Fiji Traditional Food
So lovo isn’t a food; it’s a cooking method. Fijians cook the food underground in sort of an underground oven. You can have a marinated protein, like fish or chicken, along with taro leaves and then wrap in foil and cook under banana leaves and rocks for hours at a time. (Photo courtesy of Nia Colton)
IkaVakalolo: Fish in a Coconut Cream Sauce
I don’t like coconut and I LOVED IkaVakalolo. This is a lightly pan fried fish with sautéed veggies and peppers and a coconut cream. The coconut cream takes on the taste of the other ingredients and it was unexpectedly tasty.
Chicken Curry and Roti
Because of the large Indian population, Indian food has a big presence and is a big part of Fiji cuisine. At the cooking school, we made a traditional chicken curry (no cream, better that way) and actually made our own Roti. I was surprised at how easy it really was to make. The chicken curry and Roti may have been so good that I packed up a to-go container and took it on the plane that evening as my meal for the long flight from Nadi to Los Angeles. And I’m not a huge Indian food eater. Yep.
Fish Soup and Fish in General
Fish soup is another traditional Fijian dish that people enjoy. I didn’t get the chance to try some, but let me tell you I had plenty of delicious fish in Fiji.
From pan seared Mahi Mahi to fried Walu to the Spicy Crispy Fish, we had delicious fish galore while on the island.
And speaking of delights from the sea, let me tell you about the garlic shrimp I had on the island. OMG. Two different places, two amazing garlic shrimp dishes. If you see a garlic shrimp hot pot on the menu, get it. It’s magical.
I don’t like coconut, but it’s a thing in Fiji. On one hot day, I did have some coconut water and let me tell you it was much better than the packaged and processed stuff you get in the States. Still not my favorite thing and never will be, but if you love coconut, this is the island for you, since everything is made with it and it’s super fresh.
Cassava in Fiji is tapioca in other regions. It can be served as the fresh vegetable, or in cakes and desserts.
Okay this isn’t a food…and it’s not really “good” per se…but it’s something you should do. Kava, which looks like muddy water (and tastes the same) is made from a medicated root and is a traditional drink in Fiji and other parts of Melanesia such as Vanuatu. I had some in both locations, and it is NOT my favorite thing. It’s not good at all, but it is traditional and you would be remiss if you didn’t try it. Just be ready for your tongue, lips, and throat to have a tingly sensation.
Bati Coconut Rum
Here’s a bonus for you: Bati Coconut Rum. Not the spiced rum; not the brown rum. Coconut rum. I got a bottle to bring back and it will take your cocktails to the next level. You’ve been warned.
In fact, all of the drinks in Fiji were delicious—especially the ginger mojitos at Bonefish—so enjoy!
So there you have it. A list of some of the best and most traditional foods I had in Fiji so you know what to eat on your trip to Fiji. I am still missing the food compared to the U.S., but luckily we got some Fijian food recipes at Flavours of Fiji, so I’ll be able to make some of the dishes myself. Oh, and I’ll definitely be back to Fiji sooner rather than later… to eat, of course.