Caroline gives you the coveted recipe of the ina’a fritters…

They wiggle by the road and like to draw attention to themselves in their tiny bag, their enticing dance often induces you to park on the sidewalk when you least expect it, I am obviously speaking of the ina’a. Brave but surely not reckless, these alevins always move around in a gang, whether they need to enter the mouth of a river or cajole you into buying them from the bottom of their plastic bags… Their main accomplice is a māmā who generally wears a motley pāreu with her hair pulled back in a small bun, she always makes sure to protect them from the sun while catching your eye, with her parasol.

Strategically sitting near churches after Mass, on the very tedious straight line which goes from Punaauia to Papeari or by surfing spots, these women know how to stave off boredom with a little craving ! They charm you with their hypnotic fan in their hand, their nice smile and chanted slogan, even though you were on your way, it is almost impossible not to stop by.

If somehow, all of these stratagems were too subtle for you, you also have the “early hour horn blowing wake-up” option. The symphony of rooster crows and pick-up truck roars can be so charming… Hurry up, put your flip flops on and don’t you dare forgetting your Chinese dishes, you are not the only one dashing towards the cool box. 500cfp the bowl, filled to the brim ! Ua reva, let’s go to the kitchen.

In order to make island-style pancakes, you will need:

  • 2 bowls of ina’a
  • 4 oz of flour
  • Vegetable oil (rape or sunflower)
  • 5 fl oz of sparkling water or milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • A bit of parsley
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • Salt, pepper
  • As you want: nutmeg, turmeric, curry or Tabasco sauce

Gently put the tiny fish into a sieve and start rinsing it with clear water to make sure all the sand is gone. Ina’a have this annoying tendency of spreading grains everywhere as they like to press themselves up against rocks.

At the very beginning, the eggs are carried away in the ocean where they hatch into alevins. From this very moment, the larvae develop a primitive instinct and have only one goal in mind: heading back to the river where they will thrive and multiply. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”, once they reach their destination, they grow up and spawn by the mouth of the river and it goes on and on… Except if they are caught in a giant landing net and end up in a frying tank.
No worries, the official fishing period starts in July and ends in October so that most gobiidae become adults without mishap.

Now that you are more familiar with the past of these oviparous animals, dissolve the flour with milk or sparkling water if you want a fluffier consistency. The mixture shall be as smooth as batter. Add two eggs, a bit of oil, whisk it all and leave it aside for a while.

Dice your tomatoes, slice the onion thinly and press the garlic clove. Pour all the ingredients into the dough, add the ina’a, a bit of parsley, red and green bell peppers for the color touch. As for seasoning, I’ll let you judge, we chose to put tumeric and a hint of Tabasco sauce. If you like it crunchy and crispy, add more ina’a, let it rain !

Put a bit of oil into a frying pan, wait for a couple of seconds until it is hot, take a great ladle of dough and pour it into the pan to create a little circle. There is no need of maple syrup, peanut butter or blueberries when you can make yummy homemade pancakes with leftovers.

Fry it on both sides until golden and put your little buck on a paper towel to drain the excess oil and allow it to cool. I said “allow it to cool”, put this fritter down!

I heard you “it would be great with a dressing”… Well, I asked Ginette, an outstanding cook who knows how to give Polynesian meals an Asian touch, to give me some advices. Peel a piece of ginger, cut it into thin strips, add oil, white vinegar and a pinch of salt and there you go, your sauce is ready!

Serve it with salad, cucumbers and tomatoes, lunch is served.
Are you kidding me? How can you claim you are fond of Polynesian culture if there is no rice on the table? Go get the rice-cooker…

Okay, let’s face it, it is not worth a stay in Tahiti but you can also use canned tuna and picture yourself in one of our islands.

Once again, we would be glad to hear about you and your experiences, feel free to share pictures of your masterpieces. Tama’a maita’i!