A glass of wine at sunset in New CaledoniaA glass of wine at sunset in New Caledonia
©A glass of wine at sunset in New Caledonia|Sicilia / NCT

6 dishes to try

in New Caledonia

Calling all food enthusiasts! In New Caledonia, the art of sharing a cosmopolitan cuisine that elevates the fresh produce of this paradise into delicious dishes is a cherished tradition.

Seafood and shellfish

In New Caledonia, seafood and shellfish reign supreme, renowned for their exceptional quality. The “crevettes bleues” (blue prawns) of New Caledonia are a sweet, flavourful delight. Whether served as tartar, carpaccio, or flambéed, they are often referred to as “Caledonian caviar” in fine French dining. Another sought-after delicacy is the “crevettes de creek,” increasingly popular, especially in Boulouparis. Additionally, mangrove or coconut tree crabs grace many menus, typically prepared stuffed, with vinaigrette, or served with aioli. Oysters are also a delectable treat. From octopus salad to skewers, carpaccio to clam gratin with coconut milk, seafood takes on diverse and delightful forms. You can relish these creations at a local table d’hôte, during tribal gatherings, or at culinary stalls in events like the “Fête de la mer” (Sea Festival) in Thio.


A quintessential Kanak dish, bougna embodies the essence of Caledonian cuisine. Typically comprising fish, root vegetables like taro, sweet potatoes, or yams, poingo bananas, all cocooned in coconut milk in banana leaves and cooked with hot stones underground. This nourishing and straightforward dish resonates with the rhythm of tribal life. It graces the table during Kanak festivals and ceremonies, symbolising the spirit of sharing. Widely embraced throughout New Caledonia, bougna can be relished in restaurants or B&Bs. However, the most authentic experience is undoubtedly a tribal stay, especially after participating in its preparation in a traditional Kanak oven.

Tropical fruit dessert

French pastry classics take on a Pacific twist! Locally grown coconuts, bananas, pineapples, papayas, mangoes, passion fruit (known as “apple-liana”), lychees, pomegranates, dragon fruit – an array of fruits thrive here and are highly coveted during their respective seasons. Popular desserts include cheesecake or passion fruit panna cotta, as well as fresh fruit salads. For a distinctive New Caledonian touch, Lifou vanilla plays a prominent role in various preparations, such as crème brûlée infused with Lifou vanilla or rice cooked in vanilla coconut milk.

Fun fact

Cassava flour, derived from a root tuber, also finds its way into dessert preparations (e.g., poé or cassava cake).

Tuna tartare

Indulging in a dish of exceptionally fresh raw fish on a sun-drenched restaurant terrace overlooking the sea promises an unparalleled change of scenery. Marinated in zesty lemon juice, Caledonian recipes often incorporate a hint of soy sauce, enhancing the flavour and texture of fresh tuna. Nouméa’s restaurants offer top-tier “thon” sourced from the day’s catch. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the municipal market of Port Moselle and browse the various fish stalls displaying the morning’s haul.

Local fish

New Caledonia, encircled by the world’s largest lagoon, is home to over 2,000 fish species thriving in tropical waters. During your stay, you’ll have the privilege of sampling a diverse array of fish. Mahi-mahi, dawa, red mullet, golden-lined spinefoot, and parrot fish are among the most commonly featured fish on our plates. Whether grilled or simmered in coconut milk over a wood fire, served alongside vegetables (think sweet potato, squash purée, chouchoute gratin – a zucchini-like vegetable, or pan-fried Kanak cabbage) or in a fresh salad incorporating local Maré avocados, these flavours will tantalise your taste buds. It’s a true gastronomic voyage!

Venison stew

With hunting deeply rooted in the Broussard culture, New Caledonian game holds a special place in the hearts of locals, particularly the rusa deer found throughout Grande Terre. Among the various preparations, “civet de cerf” (venison stew) is a beloved delicacy frequently gracing West Coast tables. This vegetable-based stew simmers over low heat for hours, resulting in tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat and a rich, creamy sauce.