Vika Bull’s Tongan fish in coconut cream

“Vika Bull, one of Australia’s most respected, powerful soul singers tells the story of one of the most influential soul singers of all time: Etta James in new show At Last – The Etta James Story.Vika put her heart into telling the story of Etta’s turbulent life and give over her soul to voice Etta’s most beloved songs including ‘Tell Mama’, ‘Something’s Got A Hold On Me’, ‘Pushover‘, the heart rending ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’, her iconic signature song ‘At Last’ and many more.” Source

Since she’s on the road again with At Last, I thought I’d do a wind-back-wednesday and share one of our most popular – and the first ever – recipe guest. So here’s my bestie VB.

It is often said that food, music and friendship are synonymous, so  I asked my mate Vika Bull to hit us up with a gluten-free recipe. Now VB and me go back a long way – we’ve been best buddies since we were about 20. We were born on the same day, same year and shared a funky little deco flat in East Melbourne about twenty years ago. Anyway, Vika is a great cook, which she will deny until the cows come home, but she is.

Sitting at the table with Vika and her family is like coming home for me – it doesn’t matter where we are and, like all lasting friendships, we just pick up from where we left off with good food, cups of tea or a glass of wine and copious, eye-watering fits of laughter! 

So you all know by now that Vika has an incredibly powerful voice and stage presence that has captured the attention of audiences both here in Australia and overseas. Together with her sister Linda, they have sung with Joe Camilleri’s Black Sorrows and more recently toured with Paul Kelly for years. Her first gigs were with bands Sophisticated Boom Boom and the Blue Tomatoes. At Easter this year, she joined the gang again – above – at Rockwiz Live at Bluesfest.

Next month Vika will venture out again – on her own  – and on another heartfelt vocal odyssey into the world of Etta James – a woman Vika has looked up to for as long as I have known her. In a recent interview in the Melbourne Age, Vika reckons that ‘‘I think the singing will be OK. I think it’s just telling her story in a nice way, in a respectful way and trying to get that across…..I don’t treat this lightly,” she says. ”To me it’s a lot more because I love her so much.”

Vika describes Etta as having “a voice so powerful it could knock you over, and I just love her sassy cheekiness on stage!” I could throw these words straight back into my dear friend’s lap as she’s just as sassy, twice as cheeky and has a voice to match Etta’s so I can promise you that Vika will not hold back when it comes to giving all she has in tribute.

Read The Age: The Power, passion and the pain

Vika’s tips to survive on tour

1.  What is your survival food when on tour?
A tonic of garlic, ginger, lemon and honey – just top up with hot water.

2.  Healthy go to comfort food when at home?
The BBQ pork rice noodle soup from Quan 88 our favourite Vietnamese restaurant in Victoria Street.

3.  Secret remedy that keeps my voice in shape?

In the recipe below, Vika shares with us a traditional Tongan coconut raw fish dish that I have tweaked a tiny bit.

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Vika’s Tongan fish in coconut cream

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  • Author: Samantha Gowing



500 grams snapper fillets, skin off

1 bunch spring onions, cleaned and finely chopped

1 red bird’s eye chilli, finely sliced

1 400 ml organic coconut cream

I lemon, juice of

Cracked black pepper to taste

1/2 red capsicum. thinly sliced

Coriander leaves

Cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices, if desired


  1. Dice fish into small cubes. Fold through the lemon juice carefully so as not to break up the fish. Marinate in fridge for one hour. Drain residual lemon juice from the fish.
  2. Then add remaining ingredients carefully so as not to break up the fish. Add coconut cream to taste – but don’t overdo it – there should be a nice slightly sour piquancy to this dish. Garnish with strips of red capsicum. coriander, cucumber and cherry tomatoes.
Sam Gowing & Vika Bull after At Last Brisbane February 2014

For the love of Linda Bull


The Songbirds – Vika & Linda



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