Now before you press the ‘back’ button thinking you’ve strayed away from the food section, allow us to explain the latest food trend, fresh from Hawaii. Poke (pronounced ‘poh-keh’) is traditionally a rice dish with tuna which can be served cold, hot, raw or cooked. Got your attention? Read on for our ‘how-to’ guide.
Whether you’re looking for a traditional version, a spicy recipe or a few different variations we’ve rounded up our favourite ways to eat this delicious fresh fish dish.
If you decide to eat your fish raw then just make sure it’s as fresh as possible. Buying it from your local fishmonger will help you trace the date of it as supermarket fish can often be a couple of days old before you get your hands on it.
1. Traditional Poke
Hawaiian chef, Andres Bravo, recommends using white rice, seasoned with rice vinegar and chopped kombu or seaweed. Alternatively, use a short grain Japanese sushi rice for the highest quality bowl, or brown rice if you prefer.
Fresh fish is essential. Ahi tuna or yellowfin tuna is the most common choice for traditional Hawaiian dishes, but blue fin tuna is also a good option. The fish needs to be cut up into filets, and then cubes, cutting with the grain (not against it) to avoid perforated edges. Afterwards, salt with Hawaiian or sea salt.
It’s also traditional to garnish Poke with a fresh soy sauce and a few, locally sourced ingredients; but don’t overdo it so that the individual flavours aren’t overpowered. Suggested, basic ingredients include: onion, avocado, fish roe, cherry tomatoes and sesame seeds.
Contrast and colour is very important, and Hawaiian chefs often work by sight with Poke, and never serve it flat, rather with a bit of height, leading to a point at the top. Really, what’s the point if you’re not going to take a photo either for Instagram, or to show family and friends?
2. Assembling Your Poke
1. Put the freshly cut cubes of ahi into a large bowl, sprinkle sea salt to taste.
2. Add and toss soy sauce (or desired sauce) to taste, just enough to coat the cubes.
3. Put a scoop of rice in a single serve bowl.
4. Pour the seasoned poke over the rice, creating a mound.
5. Add final touches and garnishing.
6. Sprinkle the bowl with furikake seasoning.
3. Spicy Poke
If you want to spice up your Poke, blend chilli peppers with Hawaiian sea salt and a light drizzle of olive oil to form a paste, then mix with mayonnaise and unagi (eel) sauce for a traditional Hawaiian taste.
It’s pretty simple to substitute tuna for salmon, or if you’re really pushing the boat out, chunks of sushi. If you want to veer away from the traditional make-up of a Poke bowl, you could try substituting rice for cous cous if you prefer; it’ll absorb any juices perfectly. Alternatively, the Peruvian grain of quinoa probably works just as well. While we’re at it, why restrain yourself and serve Poke in a bowl? Poke restaurants in California serve theirs in a crispy tostada!
5. Poke Recipe
It’s probably best to start off simple, and become more adventurous as your Poke journey develops. So, to get you on your way, here’s a recipe for a tuna and avocado Poke bowl:
Cut the tuna and avocado into bite-size pieces (roughly 3/4-inch). Many sushi counters sell seaweed salad; if you can’t find it, it’s not essential to the dish. Sushi-grade salmon can be substituted for the tuna, if you prefer a milder fish.
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound sushi-grade ahi tuna, cubed
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
Cooked brown rice, at room temperature Seaweed salad, optional Pickled ginger, optional
Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and seeds, and red
pepper flakes in a medium mixing bowl. Add the cubed tuna and
scallions, gently stir together to dress the tuna. Marinade for 5
Meanwhile, pit and cube the avocado (the chunks should be of a
similar size to the tuna). Add to the tuna, and gently mix together to
distribute the avocado.
To serve, scoop rice into bowls, top with tuna poke, seaweed salad, and a few pieces of pickled ginger.