What could possibly be more American for the July 4th weekend than celebrating somewhere else that help makes up the diverse fabric of our country? At least that was the thought in my head as I prepared a couple of traditional Fijian dishes – in not quite so traditional style – on July 4 with A. I’ve never been to Fiji. Just to New Zealand once for the entire Southern Hemisphere, much less the region. But it seems beautiful, and has a really cool balance of native and British colonial influences, with a ton of Indian mixed in.
So with that, here’s our Fijian date night. I hope it inspires you!
Fijian-Themed Date Night
Eat: Kokoda; Lolo; and Purini
No explanation needed, right? Haha. All three of these dishes, while exotically named, are actually fairly similar in flavor profile to things I’ve eaten semi-regularly. The cuisine of Fiji is based largely on fish and coconut, so both savory courses use fish – white bass in this case since my fishmonger didn’t have mahi mahi – and all three use coconut milk.
Kokoda is a Fijian ceviche. I first marinated the cut fish in lemon juice to “cook” it, then drained that off, adding coconut milk, lime, ginger, red onion, and yellow pepper. Let that sit in the fridge for an hour or two, then season with salt, hot sauce, and cilantro. Or forget to add the cilantro like I did, and enjoy it anyway!
Imagine it with the cilantro for more color
Lolo uses the same fish, but cooked, served with rice, spinach, and a sauce of coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, onion, basil, and tomato. The flavor is very reminiscent of a Thai tom kha gai, and is lovely. This dish really speaks to the fusion of Fiji’s cultures.
Lolo. I rarely plate meals but this one felt appropriate given the number of components.
A made dessert, as always. Purini is a steamed cake (did you know cakes can be steamed?) made of coconut milk and brown sugar, plus flour and the like. It is not very sweet, and so Fijians eat it with butter, which I recommend, but also suggest adding a drizzle of honey. Delightful!
Purini. Eat it with butter and a drizzle of honey.
Learn: The History of Fiji
For a member of the Commonwealth, there is a dearth of Fijian dinner documentary candidates on YouTube. I found one on Facebook Watch though, a nice intro to the history both of Fiji and nearby New Caledonia. I realized I knew nothing of Fiji, even thinking it to be a single island. Well, now I know a bit more of this complicated and cool place!
Experience: Fijian Dance
This was a bit more of a success than the Argentine Tango was for me, as Fijian dance moves pretty slowly and to a regular beat, featuring claps, side to side swaying, and spear-mimicry. The tutorial I found was great, and it was a lot of fun!! You’ll want to do parts one and two in order to learn the full dance.
Our dance instructors for the evening
Watch: BBC Fiji Documentary
Having learned a bit of the country’s history and tried one of the dances, we decided to end the evening with a longer documentary on some of the threats (political and climatic) that Fiji faces, and how the country is combating them. It was remarkably well done, taking both the modern nation and the traditional village life into account. If the country of Fiji interests you, you’ll both enjoy this and learn a lot!
Wow, Fiji is gorgeous!
So that was Fiji night! I hope you enjoyed it and plan your own virtual trip to these stunning islands soon.
If you enjoyed this, please check out all our travel themed date nights here!
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