Traditional Polynesian dishes

An Introduction to Traditional Polynesian Dishes

French Polynesia, located in the vast Pacific Ocean, is a treasure trove of cultures, traditions and flavors. Traditional Polynesian dishes offer a variety of tantalizing and diverse flavors and textures. Composed of a group of 118 islands, Polynesian cuisine is marked by a rich culinary and gastronomic heritage. It is based on fresh local ingredients such as fish, meat, tropical fruits and vegetables. Polynesian dishes often incorporate milk and cream of coconut to add richness and exotic flavor to every recipe. Discover Polynesian specialties that feature ingredients such as chicken, leafy vegetables such as fafa, and tubers such as taro and bread sugar.

The essential Polynesian traditional dishes

Here we present to you some of the most popular and delicious Polynesian dishes that you absolutely must taste during your visit to Polynesia.

Tahitian raw fish

This is an emblematic dish of Polynesia and, as its name suggests, it features fish raw, usually bluefin tuna or albacore tuna, marinated in lime juice and milk coconut. The fish is then tossed with vegetables such as tomato, cucumber and onion, and sometimes additional ingredients like carrot and bell pepper. This fresh and tasty dish is usually served with white rice or taro.

Chicken fa’a’āmū

Chicken fa’a’āmū is a traditional Polynesian dish made from chicken, coconut milk and vegetables. The chicken is first marinated in a sauce made from soy sauce, garlic, ginger and lemon juice, then cooked in a walnut coconut with vegetables such as fafa (Tahiti spinach), cabbage, carrots and onions. The dish is usually served with rice, taro or bread sugar, making it a complete and delicious meal.

E’ia ota is another dish from fish raw, similar to Tahitian raw fish, but spicier and more aromatic. The fish is marinated in a sauce made from milk of coconut, lime juice, peppers, onion, ginger and coriander. This savory and refreshing dish is usually served with white rice or root vegetables, such as taro or yam.

French Polynesia, made up of more than 100 enchanting islands, is not only famous for its heavenly landscapes, but also for its rich culinary culture. Traditional Polynesian dishes combine the diversity and freshness of flavors, combining seafood with local fruits and vegetables, prepared and served in a unique way. French influences as well as those from Asia, particularly China and Japan, have blended perfectly with local traditions to create an authentic and tasty cuisine. To discover the delights of this gastronomy, “Dive into Polynesian gastronomy with its flagship dishes”.

Among the most emblematic dishes of Polynesia, we find the famous “raw fish”. This marinated fish dish made with red or white tuna, coconut milk and lime, is a staple of local cuisine. It is often eaten with papaya salad, which brings a touch of exoticism and freshness.

Another Polynesian specialty, “faaroa”, a fish soup seasoned with coconut milk and curry, served with a garnish of local vegetables. This dish, rich in flavors and colors, is a good illustration of the importance and diversity of fish in the diet of the inhabitants. Stews, such as “ahima’a”, also showcase local meats, such as pork and chicken, cooked in a traditional oven made of heated stones.

Polynesian desserts are not to be outdone, with delights such as “po’e”, a kind of pudding made from fruit cooked in sweetened coconut milk and cassava flour. Another must, the “tama’ara’a”, a traditional Polynesian buffet where guests are invited to share a multitude of local dishes.

Finally, the Polynesian culinary culture offers a unique taste experience, where flavors combine with the island way of life. Do not wait any longer to dive into this bewitching universe with multiple facets, and let yourself be seduced by the richness of this thousand-year-old gastronomy, witness to the authenticity and generosity of Polynesia and its inhabitants.

Fafa, also known as Tahitian spinach, is a dark green leafy vegetable often used in Polynesian cuisine. THE fafa with coconut milk is a creamy and savory dish consisting of fafa cooked in coconut milk with onions, garlic and spices. This vegetarian dish is usually served as a side dish with fish, chicken or pork.

Polynesian cuisine is a real invitation to travel both by the variety of its flavors and by the richness of its cultural origins. Traditional Polynesian dishes come from a skilful combination of local ingredients and Asian, European and American culinary techniques, giving this gastronomy an exceptional diversity. Seafood holds a prominent place in Polynesian cuisine, with a multitude of fish, crustaceans and shellfish, often cooked raw or cooked at low temperature to preserve their delicate flavors. Among the iconic dishes, we find the famous “Tahitian raw fish”, composed of fish marinated in lime juice, and accompanied by coconut milk. Traditional Polynesian dishes to savor to travel differently.

In addition, tropical fruits also hold a place of choice in Polynesian gastronomy, in particular pineapple, papaya, vanilla and coconut. These bring a touch of exoticism to sweet and savory dishes, as an accompaniment to meat, fish or vegetables. The “faikakai topai”, for example, is a dessert made from fruits coated in sugar, coconut and coconut milk, very popular with Polynesians.

Vegetables, breadfruit, taros or even bananas are also an integral part of local dishes, thus offering varied and gourmet recipes. Yam, taro and uru (breadfruit) are tubers present in many original recipes, cooked in different ways: mashed, fried or au gratin. As for meat, we mainly find pork and chicken, prepared in sauce, grilled or cooked in banana leaves.

The “ahima’a”, a traditional Polynesian oven, is often used for cooking food. This oven dug into the ground allows food to be cooked by wrapping it in banana leaves, ensuring even cooking while preserving the original flavors of the ingredients.

In short, Polynesian cuisine is an essential taste experience for lovers of exotic flavors. All that remains is to discover these traditional dishes to savor Polynesia in a different way. So, awaken your taste buds and let yourself be seduced by this sunny gastronomy!

The accompaniments of traditional Polynesian dishes

Traditional Polynesian dishes often come with various sources of carbohydrates to supplement the meal. Here are some of the staples you can find with these delicious dishes.

  • Bread sugar: a local tuber similar to sweet potato, cooked in salted water.

  • Taro: another very popular tuber used in many Polynesian cuisines.

  • White rice: Often served as a side dish to provide a neutral base to balance the rich, spicy flavors of main courses.


Traditional Polynesian dishes offer a dining experience like no other, with fresh, local ingredients that bring out the best of the Pacific Ocean and the land. Don’t forget to feast on these tasty dishes during your visit to Polynesia, as they will allow you to discover the local culture and traditions through the unique flavors, textures and aromas of Polynesian cuisine.