(130) Nauru – Coconut Crusted Fish

Coming in at 130 is Nauru, a country of Oceania found Northeast of Australia in the central Pacific Ocean. This tiny nation is well known for its export of phosphate, one of the highest in the world. Due to overmining however, it has significantly harmed the island. Nauru is one of the least visited countries due to many people not realizing it exists. It is the 3rd smallest nation at the size of 8.1 square miles.

Aerial view of Nauru. Source: sisinternational.com

As one would expect, the local fare consists of lots of seafood and locally grown produce like coconuts and pandanus. There is moderate influence of Chinese cuisine and Australian. One common dish of Nauru is known as “coconut fish” which consists of raw tuna served in coconut milk with seasonings. Coconut breaded fish is considered the national dish of the nation and so happens to be something we enjoy. Let’s get cooking!

There isn’t a lot to say for the reason behind the national dish other than the necessity of the ingredients to the nation and the complimentary flavors. I couldn’t find if there was a recurrently used fish so we used cod which is abundant in rural Maine supermarkets.. if I could have gotten my hands on mahi mahi or tuna I would have used those in a heart beat.

To one up the coconut we served the fish with coconut rice (a staple in our household). At the time I made the dish I got fresh sugar snap peas and decided it would well suit the dish. An after thought was a wedge of lime, definitely would have brought the flavor up a notch.

We thought the almonds brought an appealing sweet, nutty flavor which went well with the coconut. Although the breading tasted good it would have been better on chicken in our opinion. Of course the fish choice and lack of flavor complexity could have easily been altered with addition of citrus or vegetable variety. We rated this one 7/10

(111) The Marshall Islands – Coconut Fish and Papaya Salad

The Marshall Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean, its closest neighbor being Hawaii to the northeast. This independent nation is made up of 1,225 islands, 870 reefs, and 29 atolls which spans over 750,000 sq miles. Sadly this country is facing the looming threat of global warming and is at high risk of being under water if the globe warms two degrees.

Majuro Atoll. Source: BBC News

Cuisine of The Marshall Islands mostly includes ingredients that can be found locally including several varieties of fruit, seafood, and rice. The Marshallese take care with food preservation including fermentation. Dried pandanus paste which is made from pandan leaves can last several years if prepared properly. These leaves have a subtle vanilla flavor and were used when we made nasi lemak from Malaysia.

Today’s recipe combines all the island flavors including coconut and papaya. We opted to omit the sweet potato salad since we aren’t big mayo fans. You can find the recipe here

I found the cooking and preparation simple, but it didn’t look too appetizing. Looking back I actually forgot to bread the fish, that makes a HUGE difference in the end result. It would have given the dish the “face lift” it needed, especially if shredded coconut was added to the flour! We served up the concoction over a bed of jasmine rice. Meh

This was another dish that was really unique and unfortunately lacked contrasting textures due to my error and execution- I blame this on being a crunch meal during the work week. The elements of the dish all worked together and the mint highlighted the freshness of the fruit. It was a little too unique for us, but I guarantee if you follow the recipe you will have a better result. We rated this version 6.25/10.