Global Feast : the Marshall Islands

Outer Islands Fish Market Center
October 1, 2011

Fisha Market building

The newly renovated Outer Islands Fish Market Center is operated by the Marshall Islands Marine Resource Authority (MIMRA). This fish center specializes in fish caught by local fishermen from the outer atolls of the Marshall Islands. The Center helps these fishermen from Arno, Anu, Jaluit, Malaelap and Mili and elsewhere to earn a cash income. The upgraded market is really clean and bright, thanks in part to a grant from Japan!

When we visited for the first time, it was a Saturday afternoon and almost no fish were available. I chatted with a local fisherman and he told me that Wednesday was the best day to come so I returned to the market the following week and the scene was very different. As I arrived, several fishermen came to drop their freshly caught fish. The fish display counter was filled to the top with a variety of local fish. There were lots of different kinds of snapper, some large gray fish that were probably part of the grouper family, surgeonfish and several others that were completely new to me. The fish list is in Marshallese so I had to translate some of the names but even when I did that, I still had no idea what some of these fish were.

According to the MIMRA website, the Center does not purchase fish known to cause ciguatera poisoning. I have been a little bit nervous about buying reef fish here because I am not familiar with the good and bad local fish yet so it was comforting to know that the Center pays attention to this issue. I wouldn't know which fish are good to eat or not if I catch them myself, but the Marshallese know this very well and I feel very comfortable buying from this Center.

Inside of fishmarket

price list

The price list is in Marshallese.

from the top, Jato (red snapper), Mon (sqsuirrelfish), and Jera (???)

On this trip, I decided to try three different kinds of fish from the snapper family. I paid less than $5 for three fish (about 2.5lb total). A great deal.

As soon as I get home, I gutted, scaled and filleted all three fish. Jera had harder scales and it was very difficult to remove them and I cut my finger quite bit. I will wear gloves from now on.

fillet snapper

I made my favorite dish, aqua pazza with these fish. Aqua pazza is a simple, clean but very flavorful dish. And you only need a few ingredients and super fast. It was so good that I actually forgot to take a photo before we ate it! Oops. Anyway, it will be my staple fish dish in Majuro for sure so I will post the recipe - and photos - for aqua pazza soon.

Outer Islands Fish Market Center
Uliga Dock, Lagoon Side, Majuro Atoll,
Marshall Islands