Tahitian Cuisine: Recipe for Poisson Cru

Have you heard of Poisson Cru?  If you’ve traveled through French Polynesia, you are likely quite familiar with it and — like us — quite enamored with it.  Poisson Cru is essentially the Tahitian version of ceviche and I’d go out on a limb to say that if Tahiti had a national dish, this would likely be it.

What sets this apart from typical ceviche you find in other parts of the world?

Coconut milk!

Tahitian Poisson Cru

The coconut milk provides such an unexpected layer of flavor and works surprisingly well against the acidity of the lime.  We ate Poisson Cru every chance we could during the French Polynesian Paul Gauguin cruise we took last year.  Fortunately, during our one day at sea, there was a Poisson Cru culinary demo!  Brett captured the demo on video so we would know how to recreate this at home.  Thankfully, the Paul Gauguin and Guillermo Muro, Chef de Cuisine, also provided a written copy of the recipe to everyone who attended.

Bowls of Poisson Cru at BBQ on Fakarava Atoll in French Polynesia

Here in Taipei, it can be difficult to get large amounts of sushi grade fish (especially since March with Japan’s natural disaster situation still continuing).  City Super, a chain of grocery stores from Hong Kong, will sometimes receive a giant tuna that they carve fresh in the store, which draws in large crowds.  Typically, the fish sells out within hours.  We had the opportunity to watch them once last year — it was like a feeding frenzy (no pun intended) as people swarmed the counters to get the fish as it was being packaged.

Crowd gathered at Taipei City Super to watch tuna carving

Cutting the delicious yellowfin tuna

Last weekend we lucked out and apparently stopped by the store on the right day.  Not much tuna was left that didn’t require a cosigner (there was a nice piece of toro (fatty tuna) that was left for about $120 US and a few pieces of yellowtail for around $30 US each).  Rather than destroy $200 in fish for something I’ve never made (not to mention toro is just too darn tasty to mix in anything), we went for a combination of ahi tuna and a local Taiwanese white fish — any mild white fish like halibut or hamachi would probably work.

Fresh yellowin tuna being prepared for packaging

Here is the recipe for Poisson Cru (slightly altered from Chef Muro’s).


  • 1/2 lb yellow fin tuna (blue fin and other sushi grade white fish work well also)
  • Salted Water
  • 2 fresh limes
  • 2 med Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 /2 small cucumber, peeled, julienned
  • 1 small onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 small carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • Sugar
  • Green Onion (for garnish)


Cut fish into thick strips and marinated in salted water

  1. Cut the fish into thick strips.
  2. Marinate the fish in salted water for about 15-20 minutes.
  3. While the fish is marinating, squeeze limes (or lemons) into a clean bowl and add sugar — the idea is to achieve a balance between sweet and sour flavors.
  4. Cut the carrot and cucumber into small strips (julienne) and chop tomatoes into coarse chunks.
  5. Halve onion and cut into thin slices.  Add carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions to lime and sugar mixture.
  6. Take fish out of salted water and add to mixture.
  7. Mix in just enough coconut milk to thoroughly coat all ingredients in the bowl.
  8. Garnish with chopped green onion if you desire.

Mix Poisson Cru ingredients with coconut milk

Serve alone or with white rice.

Have you eaten Poisson Cru? Would love to hear any other variations you’ve tried!

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  1. Pankay S. says

    Salut à tous,
    J’ai trouvé ce concours que je pense que certains d’entre vous pourraient être intéressés par!
    Ils recherchent des gens qui savent cuisiner les plats nationaux de leur pays et vous pourrez gagner un iPad mini ou d’argent.
    Voici la présentation de la compétition:

    Et voici leur page facebook:


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