Cawaki in demand

TIMOCI Qoro is a familiar name at the Suva market, particularly at the area where seafood are sold daily.

The Nalouwala native from Yawasa lives in Waiqanake and is well known for his bright-orange delicacy cawaki or sea urchin.

Cawaki has created a buzz around the market lately and those who know the taste can never resist it at the market.

Majority of the customers are Rotuman who buy in containers. Also there is their traditional belief that it heals cancer and internal bleeding.

Workers in Suva rush for them in the morning and enjoy it with lemon, chillies and cooked dalo or cassava with other seafood on the side.

Eating raw cawaki is a pleasant experience. Just crack it open, clean it out, and enjoy.

Mr Qoro makes daily trips to the sea not only to collect cawaki but dive for fish too.

He then sells cawaki at the market for $30 a large container and $5 for small ones.

Last week, his niece Mereia Nasau and her daughter Eta Malotara, 9, were at the market selling Mr Qoro’s cawaki stock.

Ms Nasau who came to Suva from Yasawa to visit her uncle decided to help him by selling at the market while Mr Qoro went out to sea for more cawaki supplies.

“I did not realise how cawaki is increasingly popular in the Suva market,” Ms Nasau explained.

She said on their first day, they arrived at the market at 8am, and by midday they had sold six big containers and 10 small ones already.

Ms Nasau said the reef outside Waiqanake was richly blessed with cawaki.

“People collect cawaki every day. Next day, you’ll see that same sack filled with cawaki, again, it’s just amazing how the stock never runs out,” she said.

Ms Nasau said picking the cawaki was quite difficult for starters. but villagers of Waiqanake would wait for the high tide to collect this seashell with bare hands while others would use gloves to protect their hands from the spines.

Once they are removed from the coral, it is then cracked open to remove the yellow roe inside.

According to Ms Nasau. cawaki can be stored in the freezer to be eaten later. However once they’re delivered to the market, they need to be sold within a time frame of three to four hours to keep fresh.

Describing the flavour of cawaki is difficult and only those who have eaten it would be in a position to describe it.

Imagine trying to describe the flavour of something to someone who’s never tasted anything like it.

But most people will agree with me that it’s delicious.

Next time you have the chance make sure you try cawaki. You just may love it. If you don’t, well then, at least you have tried it. It’s tastier shared with a crowd!

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