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Mauri and welcome to Kiribati! This week we're back in the South Pacific for one last wrap of the remaining island nations. For those not familiar with this tiny nation, Kiribati is pronounced 'Ki-ri-bass'; going against everything you have ever learned about phonetics.
If you're like us, you may be wondering, where is Kiribati? One simple explanation would be to draw a line between French Polynesia (i.e. Tahiti) and Hawaii and mark a dot halfway between. At that dot you'll find some 33 islands that make up the Micronesian state and house the permanent population of approximately 110,000 people.
In recent years, Kiribati has (like its neighbour Tuvalu) gained international attention for the dire effect that rising sea levels and coastal erosion is having on it. Tarawa, it's capital city, is home to over half the population and sits just 3m (10ft) above sea level. It has become a very real problem not only affecting the way people live and work, but their existence as a nation.
Fishing is a big deal in Kiribati and a mecca for anglers. So it made sense that fish would feature in our meal, even if Karla isn't the biggest fan of seafood. Our main meal was based on a recipe for glazed mahi mahi with white rice and pineapple. The beautiful mahi mahi fish is a little hard to find in Christchurch so we substituted that with yellowfin tuna, a species also found in that area. Accompanying this was a pumpkin coconut soup. Together with the dessert, this simple appetiser provided the perfect book end to the mains!
For something sweet, we went with sweet coco pumpkin with pandan leaves. If pumpkin is the flavour of the month or you have some spare after Halloween, then this recipe easily takes care of that situation. In Kiribati, these ingredients are readily available and make for both a snack, light meal or in our case, a dessert.
Pumpkin Coconut Soup
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
2 lbs pumpkin or sweet potato
2 teaspoons fresh ginger or ginger paste
1 can coconut milk, light
Salt and pepper to taste
Onion chives to garnish
1. Peel, de-seed and cut the pumpkin into bite size pieces.
2. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot.
3. Add the ginger and the pumpkin.
4. Cook until slightly soft but before it turns brown.
5. Add in the water, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.
6. Cook approximately 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is nice and tender.
7. Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher or use and immersion blender until the pumpkin is creamy.
8. Add in the coconut milk and add salt and pepper to taste. Warm on stove top if serving hot.
9. Garnish with fresh ground pepper and chives.
Glazed Mahi Mahi with White Rice and Pineapple
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
2 lbs mahi mahi fillets or any other fish you like
½ cup teriyaki marinade
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root or paste
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons coconut oil
Sesame seeds (optional)
Salt and pepper
Coconut oil to cook on stove top or else oil for your grill
1. In a shallow glass dish, mix together the teriyaki marinade, balsamic, ginger, chili paste, garlic, honey coconut oil and sesame seeds.
2. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper.
3. Place the fish in the dish to marinade.
4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (turn over once during marinade).
5. Heat coconut oil in a skillet to medium high heat (or you can cook on a grill).
6. Remove fillets from marinade and reserve marinade.
7. Fry the fish for about 4-6 minutes per side, turning only once, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
8. Remove fillets to a platter and keep warm.
9. Pour the reserved marinade into the skillet and heat over medium high heat until it turns into a glaze.
10. Spoon glaze over fish and serve extra on the side.
11. Serve with white rice and pineapple.
Sweet Coco Pumpkin with Pandan Leaves
Yield: 6 servings
5 cups cubed kabocha pumpkin (2-3 lb pumpkin should do) 1 15 oz can coconut milk 1/3-1/2 cup sugar 5 pandan leaves, or more to taste
1. Cut the pumpkin into cubes.
2. Tie about 5 pandan leaves into a knot.
3. Add pumpkin and pandan to a medium pot with coconut milk and sugar.
4. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Taste and add more sugar as desired.
5. Serve hot or chilled.
Here are some interesting tidbits about Kiribati:
It's the only nation in the world that is in all four hemispheres (north, east, south and west).
To counter the risk of the entire country disappearing beneath the ocean within the next 50 years, Kiribati is in talks with Fiji to buy 5,000 acres of land where they can start relocating people.
Kiribati has one of the world’s largest maritime zones, covering approximately three million sq km.
Kiribati is one of the most remote places in the world which makes it the ideal landing pad for a true break from civilisation. Here's a couple of things we'd do if visiting:
Kiribati is home to the world's largest coral atoll, Kiritimati or Christmas Island, which makes it a dream destination for divers. A week of scuba diving here sounds like a dream. It helps that there is only one flight in and out a week.
Walk through the defence guns, rusting tanks and concrete bunkers on the islands of Tarawa and Butaritari Island. The islands of Kiribati were home to numerous WWII battles between Japan and the US. A sobering reminder that even the most beautiful places on earth cannot escape mankind's mistakes.
Bird watching on Christmas Island. Around 80,000 seabirds nest here annually, with 23 breeding or resident species.
Next week we take a short skip and jump across to the Marshall Islands. Don't forget to join our subscribers list to receive updates on new posts!
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