There is nothing like escaping to the Fiji Islands in the middle of a New Zealand winter when it is wet and muddy and the dampness gets to your bones. When escaping to the Islands during winter, not only will one find sunshine and friendly faces but also a pace of life that is conducive to enjoying the simpler pleasures. There is an abundance of topical crops and wherever you go, it is possible to experience the fresh produce of the country: taro, cassava, papaya, coconut, banana and loads of fish.
Although seaweed is not as abundant and luxurious in the warm waters near the equator, there are some delicious varieties well worth noticing. Sea grapes, in particular, named after their grape-like shape, grow well in Fiji and are an integral part of some of the local dishes.
The Fijian name for Sea Grapes is 'nama' and it can be found in many locations around the Islands. Pacific Harvest's sea grapes come from the Yasawa Islands; they are harvested in shallow waters near the reef where it is warm and protected from the strong waves. Nama is often seen in local markets or presented fresh at buffet tables in resort hotels. Although sea grapes are used differently by other nations who may cook them as part of a soup or stew, in the Pacific Island, nama is traditionally used as a fresh vegetable for salad. This recipe is a traditional dish from Fiji.
to serve 2
1 small red onion, chopped fine
2 very tasty fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 handfull of coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 telegraph cucumber, chopped
Tin of tuna with chilli, drained
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp coconut cream (optional)
Sea salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste
Rinse the sea grapes in fresh water for 10 minutes - this will remove the excess salt from the brine and also plump them up. Meanwhile, place the other vegetables in a bowl. Add the sea grapes, coconut cream, lemon juice, coriander and seasoning. Combine gently. Serve cool or at room temperature.
Sea grapes, also called green caviar can be use as a substitute to the fish eggs in most recipes. Try them on new potatoes with creme fraîche, on devilled eggs or on cocktail omelets with sour cream and chives. Delicious.....and healthy!
Sea grapes are common in tropical and subtropical waters. Sea grapes are very popular in Okinawa in particular, where they have built a reputation as a health food. People in Okinawa believe that eating this seaweed will help them recover from serious illness as it contains high amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and minerals. It is also said to :
Be effective for heat injury
Be a good source of Magnesium
Reduce high blood pressure and prevent heart attack.
Contain iodine & anti-oxidant