Words & Images by Kaelah James
After a four-month dive drought, the wind, swell, and dirty rivers finally gave us a break long enough for the vis to clear so we could replenish our shrinking kaimoana stocks. On a stunning Kaikõura day, we loaded up the boat and headed out to one of our favourite dive spots. When we reached our location, we geared up and jumped into the water where we were greeted by lush 5-6 metres of vis (NB: this is epic vis for South Island diving!). After a few minutes of finning around, I dove down onto a ledge, peered over, and spotted a nice-sized moki sitting between two rocks. I lined up the shot, squeezed the trigger, and headed up for a breath. I expressed my gratitude to Tangaroa as I pulled up my beautiful moki, dispatched and gutted it, and then added it to the float boat. After reloading my gun, I took another breath and dove down to the bottom, only to look up to find myself in a vortex of dusky dolphins! They were darting all around me, so close I could touch them. The vis was so nice that I could see every detail on the dolphins – their distinctive fin shapes, the scratches on their bodies, and the inquisitive look in their eyes. I was lost in the moment, in awe of this incredible encounter that I was fully immersed in. It made me reflect that sometimes it’s so easy to forget that hunting and gathering isn’t just about the food, but rather the experiences you encounter along the way and collecting those magical moments that you will never forget.
Don’t let the grey flesh of Moki fool you, the soft-eating fillets make for stunning raw fish! You can, however, use absolutely any suitable fish for this, such as snapper, kingfish, trevally, tarakihi, kahawai, or tuna. This is one of my favourite go-to recipes for a fresh catch; it’s quick, healthy, and so delicious! You’ll see I only use half a can of coconut cream to let the flavours of the fresh ingredients shine. You can find tempura seaweed chips in the international aisle in most supermarkets or any good Asian grocer.
• 2 large fillets, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-sized pieces
• 1 cup lemon juice
• 1/2 can of coconut cream
• 1/2 small red onion, finely sliced
• 1 spring onion, finely diced
• 3 tomatoes, diced into small chunks
• 1 fresh or frozen corn cob, charred on the grill
• 1-2 avocados, diced into small cubes
• Salt & pepper
• Handful of fresh coriander
• Chilli oil
• Citrus olive oil (optional)
To Serve:
• 1 Pack of tempura seaweed chips OR corn chips
1) Place fish pieces into a bowl, pour over lemon juice and mix well. The fish should be completely covered with lemon juice — if not, add more.
2) Cover and place into the fridge for 30 minutes or until the fish has turned white and looks cooked through.
3) Drain the juice and pour over the coconut cream. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
4) Add red onion, spring onion, tomato, corn, and avocado, reserving a little of each to garnish. Mix gently to combine.
5) Add remaining onions, tomatoes, corn, and avocado.
6) Drizzle with chilli oil and citrus olive oil (if using) and sprinkle over coriander. Serve with tempura seaweed chips or corn chips.