Lu Ika Snapper Recipe

Real Pasifik New Zealand Chef, Fane Sitauti works under Scott Brown at the Auckland Sofitel Hotel.  As you would have seen in the New Zealand episode of Real Pasifik, Fane gave her own twist to Alex Kaihea’s gorgeous dish and presented it to much acclaim from guests at the finale lunch.  Now we’re able to share Fane’s recipe with you so you can make this dish in your own homes.


6 fillets of snapper

Ready to Slice Up

1 red capsicum

1 yellow capsicum

5 cloves of garlic

3 spring onions

Banana leaves

1kg silver beet

150mls vai polo (bought or make your own using recipe below)

Coconut sauce (see recipe below or just use some coconut milk)


  1. Preheat oven to 200◦C
  2. Dice the capsicums. Slice two of the spring onions and mince the garlic cloves. Sautee the garlic first in a pan for 1-2mins, add in the capsicums and season with salt and pepper. Lastly add in the spring onions and remove from stove. Set aside to cool.
  3. Slice the snapper fillets in half – width way
  4. Prepare the Banana leaves by removing the rib and flaming them over a stove, softening them so they won’t break when you wrap the lu in it. Cut the banana leaves into smaller rectangles, around 30cm x 15cm
  5. Prep the silver beets by removing the stalk.

Assembling: The lu ika id assembled in a similar fashion to sushi, with the silver beet being the seaweed paper, the fish acting as the rice etc. As such it is imperative that when following the next couple of steps everything is kept tight, with no gaps as during the cooking process we want to keep all the juices inside our package.

  1. Lay one of the banana leaves down.
  2. Lay 4-6 silver beet leaves down on the banana leaf. Remember that there can’t be any gaps or holes so arrange the leaves in a way that there aren’t any (you will need to put some on top of each other to cover the gaps where the stalks were).
  3. Place one of the snapper fillets on the silver beet, closest to you.
  4. Using a pastry brush, brush the fillet with vai polo.
  5. Using a spoon, put some of the capsicum mix from earlier along the fillet – keep it in the center (make sure it covers the length of the fillet, but it should not cover the entire fillet)
  6. Drizzle on a tablespoon of coconut milk
  7. Get the remaining ½ a fillet and brush it with the vai polo, place it on top.
  8. Roll it. Remember to roll it like a sushi and to keep it tight.
  9. Roll it in banana leaf, tucking the sides underneath.
  10. Repeat the previous 9 steps until all the 6 parcels are made
  11. Place all parcels into an iron pan with a bit of water and into the oven for 7-8 minutes.
  12. Once cooked you can either serve it as is or remove the banana leaves and drizzle some coconut sauce on top.

Fane’s delicious and healthy Lu Ika.


Coconut Sauce:

Coconut Milk

2 Red chilies

2 Stalks of lemongrass

3 Tablespoons of Cassava starch


  1. Slice the spring onions and chillies. Using the back of  a knife hit the lemon grass stalks to loosen them up, cut it into pieces.
  2. Place all the ingredients into a pot with the coconut milk and bring it to the boil. Allow it to simmer so that the flavors infuse.
  3. Using the cassava starch, thicken the sauce.
  4. Strain and use.


Vai Polo:

500mls white vinegar

500mls water

½ cup of salt

1Kg of  red and green hot chilies (sliced)

2 onions (diced)

1 bulb of garlic (sliced)

300mls lemon juice



  1. Mix the salt and water together, ensure that the salt is thoroughly mixed through and dissolved.
  2. Prep all the ingredients that need to be either sliced or diced.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together and place it into an air-tight (glass) container.
  4. Leave for a minimum of 6 months to develop the flavor and hotness. The longer you leave it the hotter it will be, good amount of time is 12 months.
  5. Once you’re ready to use the vai polo, puree the whole lot.



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