By Rebecca Gardon
With a renaissance in South Pacific cuisine firmly underway, Executive Chef Lance Seeto of Castaway Island Resort, Fiji, has become a one-man ambassador of Fiji flavor.
An award-winning international food & travel writer, author, television presenter and life foods chef, he is credited with igniting a culinary revolution across Fiji and has been integral in getting its people, restaurants and tourism partners to think differently about its tropical island cuisine. We were honored May 17 when the Australia-born chef stopped by to play in our demo kitchen during his whirlwind Southern California ‘Food Safari’.
Accessible only by boat, seaplane or helicopter, Castaway Island is the first private island resort to be developed in Fiji’s renowned Mamanuca Islands group, and has become the standard by which South Pacific resorts are judged. The island’s 174 acres are covered in rich tropical rainforest and surrounded by dreamy white sand beaches and coral reefs. Only 10 percent of these acres is occupied.
On Castaway Island, Chef Seeto’s `1808’ restaurant was recently named Best Restaurant at the AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism awards. The outdoor, feet-in-the-sand venue takes its name from the first year the Chinese presence was recorded in Fiji and incorporates Fijian, Indian and Chinese cooking techniques with live fire cooking and tropical flavors.
His anticipated memoir and cookbook, “Coconut Bliss”, is scheduled for release in September and has been entered in the Gourmand Cook Book Awards for March, 2015. Lucky for us, we got a chance to preview things to come when Chef Seeto made his delectable Avocado Seafood Kokoda, a coconut ceviche featuring shrimp and white seabass. And lucky for you, we’ve got that recipe right here!
AVOCADO SEAFOOD KOKODA
(c) 2014 Chef Lance Seeto
1 lb peeled shrimps, cut into 1″ cubes
1 lb seabass or other dense white flesh, cut into 1″ cubes
2-3 fresh chilies
1 small white onion, diced small
1 small firm tomato, deseeded, diced small
8 limes, juiced
sea salt, pinch
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine plus keep leaves for garnish
1/4 cup fresh tropical fruit, diced
4 avocado, halved and seeds removed, leave skin on
1 cup coconut milk
In a bowl, put half the lime juice in with the fish to cure. Leave covered in the refrigerator for min. 1 hour, or until the flesh turns white. Strain the cured fish, dispose of the juice, and rinse in fresh water. Set aside. In another bowl, add the remaining lime juice with the shrimp and a pinch of sea salt. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until prawns are fully cured to white.
Combine the coconut milk with the fish and prawns. Add the cilantro, onion tomato and tropical fruit. Adjust seasoning. Using a large spoon, carefully scoop out the avocado fruit. Dice into 1″ cubes. Carefully combine with the seafood. Fill each empty shell, garnish with lime wedges and cilantro leaves.