32 Popular Oceanic Dishes and Classic Foods

Oceanic dishes are a blend of indigenous and international culinary traditions, characterized by their use of local ingredients and fusion of flavors.

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Basic Information

Oceanic Food: Basic Overview

Common Ingredients

Seafood, root crops (taro, yams, sweet potatoes, cassava), tropical fruits (coconuts, bananas, breadfruit), indigenous Australian plants and animals (kangaroo, emu, bush fruits)

Common Cooking Methods

Grilling, boiling, baking, steaming


Appetizer, main course, dessert


Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Key Taste

Savory, sweet, sour, salty

Eating Etiquette

Communal dining is common, with emphasis on sharing and respect for the food and hosts. Traditional hand-eating in some Pacific Islands, utensil use in others

Meal Presentation

Often served family-style, with dishes placed at the center of the table for shared access. Presentation can vary from rustic to elaborate depending on the occasion

Culinary Festivals

Special occasions like New Year, Christmas, Waitangi Day, Australia Day, and local festivals

Influence and Fusion

A blend of indigenous traditions with European, Asian, and American influences, leading to a unique fusion cuisine
Origin and Region

Oceanic Food: Origin and Region



Continent’s Region

Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia
Oceania Map
Ingredients and Preparation

Popular Types of Oceanic Food

  • Casseroles and bakes

    In Oceanic cuisine, casseroles and bakes often feature a hearty combination of ingredients, such as meats, vegetables, and starches, layered or mixed together and then baked to perfection.

    These dishes are known for their comfort food qualities, incorporating local ingredients like lamb, beef, and root vegetables.

  • Cakes and pastries

    Cakes and pastries in the Oceania region range from simple, rustic breads like the Australian Damper to intricate desserts like the Pavlova, adorned with fresh fruits and cream.

    These baked goods often incorporate local flavors such as coconut, banana, and various fruits.

  • Desserts

    Desserts in Oceanic cuisine are as varied as the region itself, featuring everything from the light and airy pavlova, named after the Russian ballerina, to the rich and creamy Hokey Pokey ice cream of New Zealand.

    Ingredients like fresh fruits, honey, and dairy are staples in these sweet treats, reflecting the natural bounty of the region.

  • Raw dishes

    Raw dishes in Oceanic cuisine celebrate the freshness of the ingredients, particularly seafood, which is abundant in the region.

    Dishes like kokoda, similar to ceviche, feature raw fish marinated in citrus juice and coconut milk, showcasing the fusion of local and external culinary influences.

  • Fried dishes

    Fried dishes in Oceanic cuisine range from street food favorites like the Australian dim sim, a larger, heartier version of the traditional Chinese dim sum, to classic fish and chips, a staple in both Australia and New Zealand.

    The act of frying adds a crispy texture to the food, making it irresistible to many.

Oceanic dishes are the culinary treasures of Oceania, which includes Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. These cuisines are a fusion of indigenous traditions and influences from European specialties, Asian culinary creations, and dishes of the Americas.

The variety in Oceanic cuisine spans from Australia’s barbecue and fusion dishes to New Zealand’s Maori specialties like hangi, and the Pacific Islands’ seafood and coconut-based meals.

Key characteristics of Oceanic cuisine include a reliance on fresh, local ingredients like meat, seafood, vegetables, and tropical fruits. The flavor profiles tend towards natural tastes, often enhanced by simple seasoning to balance sweet, sour, salty, and umami flavors.

Traditional cooking methods, particularly the use of earth ovens in the Pacific Islands and New Zealand, are central, offering a distinct smokiness to the dishes.

Additionally, Oceanic meals emphasize communal dining, reflecting the cultural significance of sharing food in these societies. The cuisine of Oceania stands out for its diversity, drawing from the rich cultural and natural resources of the region.

Join me on a journey to explore the wonders of Oceanic cuisine, where I’ll discover the allure of its traditional dishes, their worldwide popularity, and their nutritious benefits.

I’ll sample the distinct tastes of Oceanic local foods and find out about the top culinary destinations in the region.

Discover what makes Oceanic street food stand out, including the best places to enjoy it, its role in celebrations, and the etiquette of dining in Oceania. Additionally, I’ll guide you through the art of matching food with the perfect drinks.

Explore the flavors of Oceania with me now!

Traditional Oceanic food is characterized by its deep connection to the natural resources of the Pacific Islands and the cultural heritage of its people. The main features include:

  • Staple Ingredients: The diets across Oceania are built around root crops such as taro, yams, sweet potatoes, and cassava. These are supplemented by an abundance of fruits like coconuts, bananas, and breadfruit, which hold significant cultural value as well.
  • Seafood as a Diet Staple: Given the oceanic geography, seafood is integral, featuring fish, shellfish, and seaweed prepared in various ways, from raw dishes akin to ceviche in the Pacific islands to grilled and baked preparations.
  • Cooking Techniques: Traditional cooking methods are deeply ingrained in the cultures of Oceania. Earth ovens, known regionally as ‘umu’ or ‘lovo’, are used for communal feasts, cooking food slowly over heated stones buried in the ground, imparting a unique smoky flavor.
  • Indigenous Australian Foods: In Australia, ‘bush tucker’ includes a diverse array of native plants and animals like kangaroo, emu, and bush fruits, integral to indigenous Australian cuisines.
  • Maori Hangi: New Zealand’s Maori culture is known for the ‘hangi’, a traditional earth oven cooking method similar to those in the Pacific, emphasizing the connection to the land.
  • Cultural and Historical Influences: The arrival of European, Asian, and other immigrants has introduced new ingredients and culinary methods, enriching the region’s food culture while maintaining a strong connection to traditional practices and ingredients.

Exploring traditional Oceanic food reveals a rich tapestry of flavors and techniques deeply rooted in the culture and history of the region, paving the way for its increasing global popularity.

The global appeal of Oceanic food, covering Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, is due to its unique mix of indigenous ingredients, culinary innovation, and global fusion. Key highlights include:

  • Australia: “Bush tucker” foods and the country’s distinctive barbeque and café culture have gained popularity, especially in North America and Europe, thanks to Australian chefs and media.
  • New Zealand: Its high-quality lamb, dairy, and wine, along with the traditional Māori cooking method, hangi, appeal to a worldwide audience interested in sustainable and locally-sourced foods.
  • Pacific Islands: The fusion of Japanese, Filipino, and Polynesian flavors in Hawaiian cuisine has become a hit in the United States, symbolizing the global palate’s preference for bold, diverse flavors.
  • Global Fusion: Oceanic dishes are being creatively mixed with other culinary traditions, broadening their appeal across Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
  • Influence of Food Tourism and Social Media: The spread of Oceanic cuisines has been propelled by food tourism and social media, as travelers worldwide share their authentic culinary experiences, fostering a global appreciation for these dishes.

The global popularity of Oceanic food can be attributed to its unique blend of fresh ingredients and vibrant flavors, which also underscores the health benefits associated with these traditional diets.

Here’s an overview of the factors that contribute to the healthiness of Oceanic food:

  • Seafood: A staple of Oceanic food, seafood is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for heart health and cognitive functions. It provides high-quality protein while being low in unhealthy fats.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: The diet includes a variety of tropical fruits and vegetables, which are high in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. These contribute to digestive health, help in maintaining healthy blood pressure, and support the immune system.
  • Root Vegetables: Taro, sweet potatoes, and yams are commonly consumed root vegetables that offer complex carbohydrates for energy, along with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Coconuts: Used both as food and drink, coconuts provide healthy fats, electrolytes, and hydration, supporting heart health and replenishing fluids.

What makes Oceanic food healthy is central to the appeal of the 32 popular Oceanic dishes that cater to a variety of dietary preferences through the use of filters.

32 Popular Oceanic Dishes with Filters

Explore the colorful flavors of Oceanic cuisine with the best 32 dishes, arranged by popularity. Discover your new favorite by filtering through ingredients, flavors, cooking methods, types of dishes, and meal times.

Choose from various options, including national, traditional, street, fusion, and exotic dishes.

  • In Oceanic cuisine, the most popular dishes are those that capture the essence of the region’s diverse cultures and ingredients.
  • These dishes are widely enjoyed not just locally but have also found a place in the global culinary scene.
  • They range from hearty meat pies and fresh seafood dishes to delectable desserts like Pavlova, showcasing the rich agricultural and coastal resources of Oceania.
  • National dishes in Oceania hold a special place as culinary emblems of their respective countries, deeply rooted in history and tradition.
  • For example, Australia’s meat pie and New Zealand’s Pavlova are regarded with national pride, reflecting the unique flavors and culinary practices of the region.
  • These dishes are a staple in local diets and are celebrated during national holidays and festivals.
  • Traditional Oceanic dishes are a testament to the region’s rich cultural heritage and indigenous ingredients.
  • These dishes have been passed down through generations, from the earthy flavors of the Maori Hāngī to the hearty Laplap of Vanuatu.
  • They embody the spirit of Oceania, highlighting the traditional cooking methods and communal dining practices that are central to the region’s way of life.
  • Street food in Oceania is a vibrant and integral part of the culinary landscape, offering a glimpse into the everyday flavors enjoyed by locals.
  • From the bustling markets serving fish and chips to the casual gatherings around a sausage sizzle, Oceanic street food is about simplicity, convenience, and the joy of sharing good food in the open air.
  • Exotic dishes in Oceania often feature unique ingredients and cooking techniques that may be unfamiliar to outsiders.
  • These dishes invite diners to explore the less-trodden paths of Oceanic cuisine, offering bold flavors and a connection to the diverse natural habitats of the region.
  • Fusion dishes in Oceania are a creative blend of traditional Oceanic flavors with influences from other culinary traditions.
  • From the Halal Snack Pack in Australia that combines Middle Eastern meats with local fast food culture, to innovative pastries like the Cruffin, these dishes represent a modern, evolving Oceania that embraces global culinary trends while honoring its roots.
Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips

  • Street Food

Fish and chips is an iconic dish that, while originally British, has been wholeheartedly embraced and adapted by Australia and New Zealand, becoming an integral part of Oceanic cuisine.

This delightful meal consists of battered and fried fish, traditionally snapper or flake in Australia and hoki or terakihi in New Zealand, accompanied by a generous serving of hot, crispy chips.

The dish evokes a sense of nostalgia and comfort, often enjoyed by the seaside wrapped in paper, with the aroma of salt air mingling with the savory scent of fried goodness.

Fish and chips have transcended their humble beginnings to become a cherished dish in Oceania, celebrated in local eateries and upscale restaurants alike, often accompanied by tartare sauce or a sprinkle of vinegar to enhance its flavors.



  • National
  • Traditional

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert that’s both light and crisp, with a soft, marshmallow-like interior. It’s named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, with its creation attributed to either Australia or New Zealand during one of her tours to these countries in the 1920s.

This dessert is traditionally garnished with whipped cream and fresh fruits, such as kiwi, strawberries, and passionfruit, making it a refreshing treat especially during the summer.

Pavlova variations include different types of fruit toppings or the addition of flavored creams. It holds a special place in both Australian and New Zealand cuisine, often served during celebrations like Christmas and national holidays.

Barbecue Snag

Sausage Sizzle

  • Street Food

Sausage sizzle is a quintessential Australian and New Zealand street food, traditionally consisting of a grilled sausage served on a slice of white bread, with grilled onions and a variety of condiments like ketchup, mustard, and barbecue sauce.

This simple yet beloved dish is a staple at community events, sports gatherings, and local fundraisers, often associated with weekend activities and public events.

Variations include the type of sausage used, with some opting for gourmet or specialty sausages, and the addition of other toppings like cheese or coleslaw.

The sausage sizzle is not just food; it’s a cultural icon, representing a sense of community and casual outdoor dining in Australia and New Zealand.



  • Traditional

Lamington is a staple in Australian cuisine, known for its cube-shaped sponge cake coated in a layer of chocolate icing and rolled in desiccated coconut.

This dessert has several variations, including the filling of jam or cream between two lamington halves.

Lamingtons are particularly popular in Australia and New Zealand and have become synonymous with fundraising events known as “Lamington drives.” They are also celebrated annually on National Lamington Day in Australia.

Meat Pie

Meat Pie

  • National
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Meat pie, a cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand cuisine, is savory pastry filled with minced or diced meat and often onions, mushrooms, or cheese. Considered a national dish, these pies are a staple at local bakeries and are often enjoyed as a quick and satisfying meal.

The classic Australian meat pie is typically served with ketchup, and variations might include different types of meat, such as chicken or lamb, and additional fillings like peas or mashed potatoes.

Meat pies hold a special place in the culture. They are particularly popular at sporting events, making them an integral part of the food experience at football matches and other outdoor activities in both countries.



  • Street Food

Calamari, widely enjoyed in various cuisines around the world, is particularly popular in Oceanic regions like Australia and New Zealand, where seafood is a staple part of the diet.

Calamari is made from squid sliced into rings, battered, and deep-fried, resulting in a crispy and tender appetizer or main dish. It is often served with a side of tartar sauce, aioli, or a squeeze of lemon to enhance its flavor.

Variations of calamari can include the addition of spices to the batter for extra zest or serving it grilled for a healthier option. Calamari is a common sight at seafood restaurants and coastal eateries throughout the region, reflecting the local love for fresh ocean produce.

Chicken Parma

Chicken Parma

  • Street Food

Chicken parma, short for chicken parmigiana, is a popular pub food in Australia, although it originally hails from Italian-American cuisine. The dish consists of a breaded chicken breast topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese, often served with chips (fries) and a salad.

In Australia, variations of chicken parma can include different types of cheese, additional toppings like ham or bacon, and various side dishes. It has become a staple in Australian pubs and restaurants, often featured as a special on certain nights of the week.

Chicken parma is a favorite choice for casual dining and social gatherings, reflecting its status as a comfort food favorite in the Australian culinary scene.

Australian Burger

Australian Burger

  • Fusion
  • Street Food

Australian burger, or Aussie burger, is a national variation of the classic hamburger that includes unique toppings that reflect Australian culinary preferences.

In addition to the standard beef patty, the Australian Burger often features sliced beetroot, pineapple, a fried egg, and bacon, along with the more traditional lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Cheese and various sauces, such as barbecue sauce or aioli, are also common additions. This fusion of flavors makes the Aussie burger a distinct and hearty meal, representative of Australia’s diverse culture and cuisine.

The Australian burger is a favorite at pubs, diners, and backyard barbecues, especially during national celebrations like Australia Day, where it’s enjoyed as part of the festive fare.

Anzac Biscuit

Anzac Biscuit

  • Traditional

Anzac biscuit is a traditional Australian and New Zealand biscuit made from oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, and boiling water.

The biscuit has historical significance, as it was originally made to send to the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) serving in World War I, due to its long shelf life.

Anzac biscuits are especially linked to Anzac Day, observed on April 25th, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.

Variations of the Anzac biscuit include the addition of nuts or spices, but the classic version remains the most popular and revered, especially during Anzac Day commemorations.

Dim Sim

Dim Sim

  • Fusion
  • Street Food

Dim sim, a variation of the traditional Chinese dim sum, has become an iconic street food in Australia, particularly in southern regions like Melbourne.

This Australian adaptation was popularized in the 1940s and typically consists of a meat filling, such as minced pork or beef, encased in a wrapper and then steamed or deep-fried.

Australian dim sims differ from their Chinese counterparts in size and seasoning, being larger and often featuring a thicker dough wrapper. They are a popular snack at sports events and local fish and chip shops.

Variations include different fillings like chicken or seafood and vegetarian options, making them a versatile and beloved part of Australian street food culture.



  • Fusion

Pasties, traditionally known as Cornish pasties, have found a place in Oceanic cuisine, particularly within Australian and New Zealand culinary traditions.

These are savory pastries filled with meat and vegetables, such as beef, potatoes, swede (rutabaga), and onions, all encased in a shortcrust pastry.

Originally from Cornwall, England, pasties were brought over by British miners and became popular in regions with mining communities, especially in Australia.

Variations of pasties in these countries include different types of fillings, catering to local tastes and ingredients. While not associated with specific festivals, pasties are a common and hearty meal enjoyed by many, reflecting the British influence on Oceanic cuisine.

Fairy Bread

Fairy Bread

  • Traditional

Fairy bread is a simple, traditional treat commonly served at children’s parties in Australia and New Zealand. This dish consists of white bread slices spread with butter and sprinkled with “hundreds and thousands” (round, colorful nonpareils).

It is a staple at birthday parties and school gatherings, embodying a sense of nostalgia and joy for many.

Vanilla Slice

Vanilla Slice

  • Traditional

Vanilla slice, known as ‘snot block’ in Australian slang, is a popular dessert in Australia and New Zealand, comprising layers of crisp puff pastry with a thick custard filling, often topped with icing sugar or a layer of icing.

This sweet treat is a common feature in bakeries and cafes, and variations may include the addition of fruit layers, flavored custard, or different types of icing, such as passionfruit.

The vanilla slice is celebrated for its creamy texture and balance of flavors. While it is not specifically linked to any festivals, it is a favorite choice for everyday indulgence and special occasions alike, embodying the sweet side of Oceanic cuisine.

Shepherds Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

  • Traditional

Shepherd’s pie, also known as cottage pie when made with beef, is a hearty and comforting dish that has been embraced in various countries, including those in Oceania like Australia and New Zealand.

This traditional dish consists of a layer of cooked minced meat, typically lamb (hence “shepherd”) when adhering to the original recipe, mixed with gravy and vegetables such as peas, carrots, and onions.

This savory mixture is then topped with a layer of mashed potatoes and baked until the top is golden and crispy. Variations of shepherd’s pie include different types of meat, such as beef for cottage pie, or the addition of cheese in the potato topping.

Shepherd’s pie is a popular comfort food enjoyed in homes and pubs, especially during the colder months.

Halal Snack Pack

Halal Snack Pack

  • Fusion
  • Street Food

Halal snack pack, often abbreviated as HSP, is a contemporary fusion dish that has garnered popularity in Australia.

This dish combines Middle Eastern-inspired halal-certified meat such as lamb, chicken, or beef doner kebab, with chips, and a variety of sauces including garlic, chili, and barbecue.

It is typically served in a styrofoam container and is considered a favorite among street food enthusiasts. Halal Snack Pack has also inspired variations, particularly in the choice of sauces and the addition of other toppings like cheese or jalapeños.

While it is most famous in Australia, the concept of meat and chips is a familiar sight in various forms around the world, especially in regions with significant Middle Eastern diaspora.



  • Traditional

Hāngī is a traditional Maori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven. This method is not only a cooking technique but also an important cultural practice in New Zealand.

The process involves wrapping a variety of foods, such as chicken, pork, and root vegetables like kumara (sweet potato), in leaves and cooking them underground for several hours. This slow-cooking method imparts a smoky, earthy flavor to the food.

Hāngī is often prepared during special occasions and celebrations, such as Waitangi Day and other significant Maori gatherings, making it an integral part of New Zealand’s culinary and cultural heritage.



  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Pikelets are small, fluffy pancakes that are a beloved treat in Australia and New Zealand. They are thicker and smaller than the traditional pancake and are often served as a snack or for breakfast.

Pikelets can be enjoyed with various toppings such as jam, cream, honey, or fresh fruit. They are similar to the Scottish and Welsh versions of griddle cakes and have become a staple in Oceanic home cooking.

Variations include the addition of ingredients like blueberries or chocolate chips to the batter. Pikelets are particularly popular at teatime and can be found at social gatherings, school events, and family breakfast tables across Australia and New Zealand.

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Hokey pokey ice cream is a beloved dessert in New Zealand, characterized by its unique flavor and texture. It consists of vanilla ice cream mixed with small, solid lumps of honeycomb toffee, known locally as “hokey pokey.”

This ice cream flavor is one of the most popular in the country and is a staple in ice cream parlors and supermarkets across New Zealand. Some artisanal producers may experiment with the base ice cream flavor or the type of toffee used.

Hokey pokey ice cream is particularly enjoyed during the summer months. It is a quintessential treat at beach outings and family gatherings.

Bacon and Egg Pie

Bacon and Egg Pie

  • National
  • Traditional

Bacon and egg pie is a hearty and comforting dish deeply rooted in New Zealand’s culinary tradition. This savory pie encapsulates the simplicity and wholesomeness of homemade cooking, featuring a filling of bacon and eggs, often with onions and peas, encased in a flaky pastry crust.

Its simplicity belies the warmth and familial comfort it brings, making it a staple in picnics and family gatherings. While variations exist, including the addition of cheese or different herbs for an aromatic touch, the classic bacon and egg pie remains a beloved favorite.



  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Damper is a traditional Australian bread, historically prepared by stockmen and drovers over campfire coals. This simple bread is made from wheat flour, water, and sometimes milk, resulting in a dense loaf that was originally baked in the ashes of a campfire.

Damper is often served with Australian bush foods, including dried or cooked meats and golden syrup or honey. Modern variations include adding ingredients like sugar, butter, or dried fruits to enhance flavor.

Damper holds cultural significance in Australia, particularly in connection with Australian bush culture, and is often featured in outdoor gatherings and on significant national days like Australia Day and ANZAC Day, serving as a reminder of the country’s pioneering past and rural heritage.



  • National
  • Traditional

Laplap is a traditional dish central to the cuisine of Vanuatu and is considered the national dish of the country. It consists of a pounded breadfruit or banana mixture, sometimes substituted with manioc or yam, which is then layered with coconut cream and either chicken, pork, beef, or fish.

The entire concoction is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in an earth oven. There are variations of laplap, with the most notable being based on the type of starch or meat used in the preparation.

This dish is not only a staple food in Vanuatu but also holds cultural significance, often being served during important celebrations and communal gatherings.



  • Traditional

Poi is a traditional Polynesian dish made from taro root. The root is cooked, pounded to a paste, and then mixed with water until it reaches a desired consistency. Poi can range from liquid to dough-like in texture and is a staple of Hawaiian cuisine.

It is known for its slightly sour taste due to fermentation. Variations of poi primarily involve the consistency and the length of fermentation, which can alter its flavor.

Poi is a fundamental part of native Hawaiian cuisine and is often present at luaus and other Hawaiian and Polynesian cultural gatherings.



  • Fusion

Cruffins are a delightful fusion pastry that combines the best elements of a croissant and a muffin. This innovative dessert is known for its flaky, croissant-like dough that’s shaped and baked in a muffin tin, often filled with various sweet fillings such as jam, cream, or custard, and sometimes dusted with sugar.

Originating as a creative twist in modern bakeries, cruffins have gained popularity in various parts of the world, including in Australia and the United States.

There are numerous variations of cruffins, with fillings ranging from simple jams to more complex pastry creams and fruit compotes. Cruffins have become a popular choice in cafes and bakeries for their unique texture and delightful flavors.

Fish Suruwa

Fish Suruwa

  • Fusion
  • Traditional

Fish suruwa is a Fijian curry that showcases the fusion of local ingredients and Indian culinary influences, a testament to Fiji’s multicultural heritage. This dish features fish simmered in a fragrant blend of spices, coconut milk, and sometimes tomatoes or tamarind for added tang.

Variations include the type of fish used or the inclusion of additional vegetables. Fish Suruwa is a reflection of the Indian diaspora’s impact on Fijian cuisine and is enjoyed widely across the islands.

It is a common and beloved dish in the daily diet of Fijians, often served with rice or roti, blending the rich flavors of the Pacific with the aromatic spices of South Asia.



  • National
  • Traditional

Palusami is a traditional dish beloved in various Pacific Island nations, including Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji. It involves taro leaves wrapped around a filling of coconut milk, often with onions and sometimes with meat or fish added, then baked or steamed to create a rich, creamy concoction.

In Samoa, the addition of corned beef is common, resulting in a variant known as “lu’au.” Palusami is frequently served at gatherings and special occasions, embodying the communal spirit and rich agricultural heritage of the Pacific Islands.

It’s a staple at feasts and is particularly prominent during significant celebrations like weddings and community festivals.



  • Exotic
  • Fusion
  • Traditional

Kokoda is Fiji’s answer to ceviche, showcasing the fresh seafood that is abundant in the region. This dish consists of raw fish, typically mahi-mahi or snapper, marinated in lemon or lime juice until the acids “cook” the fish.

It’s then mixed with coconut milk, onions, tomatoes, and sometimes cucumbers, resulting in a refreshing and light dish. Kokoda celebrates the blend of Fijian and Pacific Islander flavors with a hint of influence from other cuisines that appreciate raw fish dishes.

It is a popular choice both for everyday meals and special occasions, often featured at resort restaurants for visitors to savor a taste of Fijian culinary tradition.



  • Exotic
  • Street Food
  • Traditional

Kelaguen is a traditional dish from the Mariana Islands, particularly Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, resembling ceviche. It consists of chopped meat, seafood, or poultry, commonly chicken, shrimp, or fish, marinated in lemon juice, which “cooks” the protein through its acidity.

The mixture is then seasoned with salt, hot peppers, and finely chopped green onions, and sometimes grated coconut is added for extra flavor.

Kelaguen is often enjoyed as both an appetizer and a main dish and is a staple at local fiestas, barbecues, and family gatherings, reflecting the islands’ communal culture and love for vibrant, citrus-infused flavors.

Ota ika

‘Ota ‘ika

  • Exotic
  • National
  • Traditional

Ota ‘Ika is a traditional Polynesian dish, primarily known as a delicacy in Tonga but also enjoyed in other Pacific islands. This dish consists of raw fish, typically tuna, marinated in a mixture of citrus juice and coconut milk, resulting in a refreshing and slightly tangy flavor.

It’s often enhanced with diced vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, and onions, and sometimes garnished with spring onions or coriander. ‘Ota ‘Ika is a staple at feasts and gatherings and embodies the essence of Oceanic cuisine’s reliance on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Chop Suey

Chop Suey

  • Fusion

Chop suey, which translates to “assorted pieces,” is a dish that epitomizes the fusion aspect of Oceanic cuisine, particularly in American Chinese cooking. While not traditionally Oceanic, it has found a place in the culinary landscape of regions like Hawaii.

This dish typically consists of a mix of stir-fried vegetables and sometimes meat or tofu, all coated in a thick sauce. Variations can include the addition of different proteins like chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp, making it a versatile and adaptable dish.

Popular in countries with significant Chinese communities, chop suey is often served in Chinese restaurants worldwide and is especially embraced in American and Oceanic Chinese cuisine.

Whitebait Fritters

Whitebait Fritters

  • Street Food

Whitebait fritters are a cherished traditional dish in New Zealand, made from the tiny, immature fish known as whitebait. These fish are mixed into a batter, often simply made with egg, and then fried until golden and crisp.

The fritters are a celebration of the delicate flavor of whitebait, which is a seasonal delicacy in New Zealand. Whitebait Fritters are especially popular during the whitebait season, from late winter to early summer, and are a common feature at gatherings.

Lovo Fijian Fish


  • National
  • Traditional

Lovo is a Fijian dish made by slow-cooking meat, fish, and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves in an underground oven. This method gives the food a unique smoky flavor and tender texture, making it a staple at Fijian celebrations like weddings and community events.

The variety of foods prepared in a lovo, including root vegetables and various meats, showcases Fiji’s rich culinary tradition.

Rewena Bread

Rēwena Bread

  • Traditional

Rēwena bread is a traditional Maori sourdough potato bread from New Zealand. This bread is distinguished by its use of a “bug,” a fermented potato starter, which gives it a unique flavor and slightly dense texture.

Rēwena bread is often served as a side dish or used as a base for sandwiches and is cherished for its ties to Maori culture and heritage. It’s popular across New Zealand and is a symbol of Maori culinary tradition, frequently featured in gatherings and cultural celebrations.

List of Oceanic Dishes by Country

  • Samoan Food Dishes

    13 Best Traditional Samoan Food Dishes

  • Guamanian Food Dishes

    17 Famous Guamanian Food Dishes

  • Fijian Food Dishes

    19 Popular Fijian Dishes and Foods

  • Hawaiian Food Dishes

    22 Best Hawaiian Dishes/Foods to Try

  • Australian Food Dishes

    25 Top Australian Dishes and Foods to Eat

  • New Zealand Food Dishes

    32 Traditional New Zealand Dishes & Foods

  • Tongan Food Dishes

    9 Common and Traditional Dishes/Foods of Tonga

What Are the Characteristics of Oceanic Dishes by Regions?

Below are the key features of Oceanic dishes by regions, from Australasia to Polynesia:

  • Blend flavors and techniques from European colonists, Asian migrants, and the indigenous peoples of Australia and New Zealand.
  • Emphasizes fresh, local ingredients: seafood, lamb, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Features ‘bush tucker’ items, including kangaroo, emu, and native plants.
  • Notable for the Maori hangi in New Zealand, a cooking method using heated rocks in a pit oven.
  • Predominantly found in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu, these dishes focus on yams, taro, and sweet potatoes.
  • Diet heavily relies on root vegetables, fruits, coconut, and fish as a primary protein source.
  • Utilizes traditional earth ovens for slow cooking over hot stones.
  • Incorporates local spices and herbs for flavoring.
  • Abundant use of seafood, tropical fruits, and tubers like taro and breadfruit.
  • Prevalent simple cooking techniques include grilling and boiling.
  • Coconut is a staple for cooking and flavoring.
  • Fermented foods like breadfruit and fish are common.
  • Characterized by a variety of seafood, coconut, and root vegetables like taro and yams.
  • Traditional cooking methods include underground ovens (umu or imu) for a smoky flavor.
  • Rich in tropical fruits such as pineapple and papaya.
  • Influences from European and Asian settlers, especially evident in Hawaii.

The characteristics of Oceanic dishes by regions set the stage for the recognition of specific Oceanic countries renowned for their exceptional food.

Which Oceanic Countries Have the Best Food?

Below are countries in Oceania that stand out for their unique culinary traditions.

  • Australia: Blending traditional British cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian influences, Australia offers fresh seafood, quality meats, and a diverse range of produce. Iconic dishes include Vegemite on toast, meat pies, and Australian barbecues.
  • New Zealand: New Zealand combines British culinary practices with indigenous Maori traditions, focusing on lamb, beef, dairy, and a rich variety of seafood. Key dishes include the traditional Maori hangi.
  • Fiji: Mixing Polynesian, Indian, Chinese, and European flavors, Fiji’s cuisine features coconut, fish, rice, and root vegetables. A standout dish is kokoda, a Fijian version of ceviche.
  • Samoa: Samoan food revolves around taro, breadfruit, coconut, and seafood, using traditional cooking methods like the umu. Notable dishes include palusami and oka, a raw fish salad.
  • Papua New Guinea: Papua New Guinea’s culinary tradition relies on local ingredients and traditional cooking methods, with a diet rich in sago, pork, sweet potatoes, tropical fruits, rice, and vegetables.

Oceanic countries renowned for their exceptional food, which are celebrated and elevated during various festivals and celebrations across the region.

What Are the Roles of Oceanic Dishes in Festivals and Celebrations?

Let’s explore how dishes play various roles in Oceanic festivals and celebrations:

  • Symbolizing Abundance and Prosperity: Lavish feasts during events like the New Year across the Pacific Islands, with dishes such as the Hawaiian luau, signify prosperity and are thought to attract good fortune.
  • Strengthening Community Bonds: Festivals like Tahiti’s Heiva highlight the importance of communal meal preparation and consumption in fostering a sense of belonging, as seen with the communal ovens or umu in Polynesian cultures.
  • Honoring Ancestors and Gods: In many Oceanic festivals, offerings of food to ancestors or deities, such as the Yam Festival in Papua New Guinea, express respect and gratitude, underscoring the spiritual significance of these culinary practices.
  • Marking Seasons and Harvests: Celebrations of the changing seasons and successful harvests, like Hawaii’s Makahiki festival, feature traditional foods that honor the fertility of the earth and the gods of harvest.
  • Celebrating National Identity and Heritage: National festivals, including Australia Day and Waitangi Day in New Zealand, showcasing dishes reflecting the country’s culinary heritage, such as the Australian barbecue and New Zealand’s hangi, emphasizing national identity and community spirit.
  • Festive Celebrations: The Māori tradition of a hāngī in New Zealand and the Pavlova dessert popular during Christmas and festive celebrations in both New Zealand and Australia exemplify how specific dishes can symbolize cultural heritage and communal joy.

Moving on, it’s time to uncover the vibrant and diverse Oceanic street food scene.

What Makes Oceanic Street Food Stand Out?

Oceanic street food, with its unique flavors and communal spirit, is a vibrant expression of the region’s history, culture, and culinary innovation. Here’s why it stands out:

  • Geographical Isolation: The isolated islands of Oceania have cultivated unique food items, utilizing indigenous ingredients like tropical fruits, fresh seafood, and root vegetables such as taro and yams, which are pivotal to its distinctive flavors.
  • Cultural Influences: Oceanic cuisine is a melting pot of European, Asian, and American influences, blending traditional practices with new flavors and techniques, exemplified by dishes like the Hawaiian plate lunch.
  • Traditional Cooking Methods: Techniques like the ‘umu or lovo, an underground oven, impart a smoky flavor to foods, showcasing the importance of preserving cultural heritage through cooking.
  • Communal Eating: Oceanic street food embodies the region’s communal spirit, emphasizing meals as opportunities for gathering, sharing, and celebration, integral to the social fabric.
  • Innovation and Adaptability: The street food scene in Oceania is marked by its adaptability and creativity, with vendors incorporating both traditional and modern influences, ensuring the evolution of Oceanic cuisines while maintaining their essence.

What makes Oceanic street food stand out is its ability to offer a kaleidoscope of flavors and experiences in an accessible and informal setting, inviting food enthusiasts to explore the best street food destinations within Oceania.

Where to Try The Best Street Food in Oceania?

Exploring the best street food in Oceania requires a journey through the diverse culinary landscapes of its countries, each offering unique flavors and dishes reflective of their cultural heritage.

  • Australia Street Food: Offers a vibrant mix from food trucks and markets in cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
    Key attractions include classic Aussie BBQ, Asian fusion, and modern Australian dishes, with the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne as a notable spot for diverse offerings like doughnuts and gourmet sausages.
  • New Zealand Street Food: Features a blend of Maori traditional foods, British-influenced pies, and Pacific/Asian cuisines.
    Auckland’s street food scene is highlighted by the Auckland Night Markets and La Cigale French Market, offering local seafood, Maori hangi, and international dishes.
  • Pacific Islands Street Food: Known for traditional Polynesian cuisine focusing on seafood, coconut, tropical fruits, and root vegetables.
    Key dishes include kokoda (Fijian ceviche), taro root, and seafood prepared with coconut milk, prevalent in islands like Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.

To experience the best street food in Oceania, explore local markets and food stalls where authentic flavors thrive, leading into the realm of Oceanic dining etiquette that enhances the culinary journey.

What Is Oceanic Dining Etiquette?

Oceanic dining etiquette blends traditional customs and European influences, varying across Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.

  • Australia and New Zealand: Follow European dining norms—use utensils in the British manner, wait for everyone to be served before eating, elbows off the table, and utensils rested when not in use. Tipping is practiced but less common than in the US, reflecting fair wages for service staff.
  • Pacific Islands: Etiquette varies, with communal meals and hand-eating in traditional settings. Fiji’s kava ceremony is notable, involving communal drinking and specific protocols like clapping before and after.
  • Overall Oceanic Etiquette: Focuses on respect for food, hosts, and guests rather than rigid manners. Formal settings show more European influence with strict use of utensils and dress codes.
  • Global Dining Etiquette: Emphasizes utensil use, mouth closed while chewing, and polite conversation. Practices vary by culture, such as using chopsticks in Asia or specific silverware etiquette in the West.
  • Specific Practices: Start with the outermost silverware, scoop soup away from you, cut meat with control, and follow local toasting traditions. These guidelines aim at respectfulness and consideration at the table.

Understanding Oceanic dining etiquette provides insight into the respectful and communal nature of meal-sharing in the region, complementing the enjoyment of dishes with carefully selected beverages that best pair with Oceanic cuisine.

Which Beverages Pair Best with Oceanic Dishes?

Here’s a quick guide to popular Oceanic drinks and their food pairings:

  • Kava: A ceremonial drink from the Pacific Islands like Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa, made from ground kava plant roots. With its calming, earthy taste, Kava pairs well with light snacks like taro chips, nuts, or seafood dishes.
  • Coconut Water: Sourced from young coconuts, this natural drink is popular across Oceania. Its sweet, nutty flavor is ideal with spicy foods, grilled seafood, and tropical fruits, offering a refreshing balance to dishes like poke bowls and grilled fish.
  • Taro Smoothie: A nutritious choice made from taro root, offering a creamy, sweet, and nutty flavor. Best paired with breakfast foods like banana pancakes or coconut bread, and desserts. Its rich texture and sweetness enhance savory flavors.
  • Noni Juice: Known for its health benefits, noni juice has a strong, somewhat bitter taste. It’s usually consumed for its medicinal qualities, often alone or with a light breakfast. It can also be mixed with other juices to improve its flavor, complementing tropical fruit salads, light seafood, and raw veggies.

Each of these drinks from Oceanic cuisine offers a unique taste experience that enhances the flavors of Oceanic cuisine, reflecting the rich cultural heritage and natural bounty of the Pacific Islands.

Explore the vibrant flavors of Oceanic dishes through our culinary guide. If you love what you read, show your support by liking, sharing, and commenting on this article. Let’s share the wonders of Oceanic cuisine with the world together!

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Editor in Chief, Senior Content Writer


Home Cooking, Meal Planning, Recipe Development, Baking and Pastry, Food Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Western Food Evaluation Expert


Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

  • Program: Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts
  • Focus: Gained foundational knowledge in French and European culinary techniques. Participated in workshops and hands-on training sessions under the guidance of seasoned chefs.

Local Community College, New York, NY

  • Program: Associate’s Degree in Nutrition
  • Focus: Acquired basic understanding of nutrition principles, dietary needs, and the importance of balanced diets in daily life.

Jamie Scott is a skilled culinary expert and content creator specializing in Western cuisine. With over 15 years in the culinary field and formal training from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Jamie deeply understands how to blend nutrition with delicious flavors. His passion for cooking matches his commitment to making healthy eating accessible and enjoyable.

On Fifteen.net, Jamie brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes and beverages, offering readers insightful recipes, cooking tips, and a fresh view on meal planning that emphasizes taste, health, and simplicity.

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