Tahitian Poisson Cru (Marinated Raw Fish)

Tahitian Poisson Cru (Marinated Raw Fish)

The Spruce / Qi Ai

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Chill: 20 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
520 Calories
25g Fat
23g Carbs
56g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 520
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 25g 32%
Saturated Fat 16g 79%
Cholesterol 90mg 30%
Sodium 439mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 7g 23%
Protein 56g
Calcium 92mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Poisson cru is translated from French as "raw fish." In Tahitian, it is called ia ota (ee-ah oh-tah). It is generally considered the national dish of Tahiti and the islands of French Polynesia.

Poisson cru is similar to Latin ceviche or Hawaiian poke, insofar as they are all types of raw fish preparation. With ceviche, the fish is "cooked" in the acidity provided by lime juice, whereas poke usually has Asian flavors, not Latin ones. Finally, although poisson cru uses lime juice, the addition of coconut milk sets it apart from the other two preparations. The same dish is called oka i'a in Samoa.

Poisson cru is made with the freshest of ingredients as found in the islands of Tahiti. While most commonly made with raw fresh tuna, and that's how this recipe is written, there are other options. It can also be prepared with numerous other fish, such as crab (ota pa'a/paka), eel (ota pusi), lobster (ota ula), mussels (ota pipi/maso), octopus/squid (ota fe'e/feke), prawns (ota ulavai), and sea urchin (ota vana/tuitui).


  • 1 3/4 pounds fresh sushi-grade tuna
  • 8 limes, juiced
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 tomato (1 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cucumber (3 1/2 ounces)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 glass coconut milk

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Tahitian Poisson Cru (Marinated Raw Fish) ingredients

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  2. Dice the fish into 1/2-inch cubes, rinse with fresh water, drain, and place in a large nonreactive salad bowl. Feel free to add a dash of a little salt to the water, but this is optional and a matter of taste.

    fish cubes in a bowl with salt and water

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  3. Squeeze the limes and pour the juice over the fish. Mix well and chill 15 to 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

    fish cubes in a bowl

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  4. Cut onion and green pepper into thin slices, and cut tomato into small cubes. Remove seeds from cucumber and cut into thin half-moons.

    onions, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in bowls

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  5. Drain some of the lime juice, add the vegetables, and season with salt and pepper.

    fish and vegetables in a bowl

    The Spruce / Qi Ai

  6. Five minutes before serving, add the coconut milk. Serve chilled.

    Tahitian Poisson Cru (Marinated Raw Fish) in a bowl

    The Spruce / Qi Ai


If you don't want to use tuna or any of the other fish or seafood listed (eel, lobster, etc.), you can make poisson cru with jackfish, halibut, salmon, or snapper.

Why do I need a nonreactive bowl for poisson cru?

Whether a bowl is reactive or nonreactive refers to the material out of which it's made. Aluminum, iron, and copper are reactive, whereas ceramic, glass, stainless steel, and enamel-coated metal cookware are considered nonreactive.

Always marinate poisson cru in a glass or ceramic bowl because when acidic preparations like this are placed in a reactive bowl, the food can change color and take on a metallic taste, if it's been sitting for a while, like in a marinating process.

How to Store Poisson Cru

This isn't one of those dishes that takes well to storing and eating as leftovers; it's typically best consumed the day that it's made. However, it can keep for a day or so in the refrigerator if it's covered. You'll know it's gone bad if it starts to smell sour.