IT is seafood galore at the 2012 Digicel Adi Salusalu Festival and the people of Lautoka are not missing out on the opportunity to savour some of the best seafood dishes coming fresh out of the islands.
Yesterday, a team from this newspaper took an early morning trip to the stalls at the Churchill Park foreground and caught up with men and women preparing the different array of seafood, ready for the day's sale.
Fish were being gutted and scaled while piles of coconuts were being scraped.
One of the staples of each stall is ika miti — boiled fish soaked in thick coconut cream with spinach on the side.
Other stalls went more unconventional and were preparing to boil large quantities of octopus, of course to be later cooked in coconut milk.
Crabs that were in abundance at the beginning of the week were out of stock, stall operators saying that this was because of its popularity among patrons.
Seagrapes, commonly known as nama, was also one of the sellouts.
At the Oarsman Bay Lodge stall, manager Kalevatu Nawalu said the offer of nama had brought a lot of people to their stall.
"The nama is very popular among our customers," he said.
"They ask for that first before they ask for the other dishes. Our fish dishes are also popular. We sell the traditional boiled fish in miti dish and then we have our fish vakalolo.
"Apart from that we sell octopus vakalolo which is also something that brings people to our stall."
Mr Nawalu said since the festival started on Saturday, people had been coming to the grounds to sample the seafood dishes.
To the North East side of the park, the Vawa stall run by the Gunu villagers in Naviti also offered another standout dish of the festival — fresh and thoroughly cooked dabea or moray eel.
Selling at $5 a serve, Gunu villager, Sereana Tubakibau said the dish was a favourite for their customers.
Mrs Tubakibau said the moray eel were specially fished for the festival and have almost run out because of its demand.
The stall also has another attraction — fish cooked on an open fire (tavu fish).
The dish is served with cassava, lemon, chillies and each serve is lightly soaked in fish stock.
Adi Salusalu working committee co-ordinator Sakiusa Naivalu said the seafood dishes was one of the drawcards of the festival. Mr Naivalu said the festival provided a great stage for the people of the Yasawas to showcase that the best food came from its islands.