Seems like Hawaiian poke is everywhere! The food media is writing about it and poke-centric restaurants seem to be popping up lately in San Francisco. (They’re apparently all over the place already in San Jose and LA.)
For the uninitiated, poke (pronounced POH-kay) is the Hawaiian delicacy of cured raw fish, often ahi tuna. The raw fish is salted, in the old days acting as a preservative, and then enjoyed later, maybe at the beach after surfing. Through the years it has picked up influences of the islands’ melting pot, such as the addition of soy sauce with the influence of Chinese immigrants.
But poke is often simple and delicious. In Hawaii, you can buy poke in the refrigerated sections of super markets (and Costco), and you can get a variety of poke (made with octopus or squid, for example). But the key ingredients are always soy sauce or salt, sesame oil, and onion (typically green onions or spring onions).
On the mainland (that’s what us Hawaiians refer to the rest of the United States), people have gone crazy with poke, adding all sorts of items like fish roe or seaweed salad, just to make it special. But I feel this takes away from the heart of what poke is all about, really simple, fresh fish served in plastic containers for portability.
So getting all reminiscent for poke, I decided to make a poke rice bowl for lunch last weekend. The ingredients are the core basics, but I did make it fancy by blending tuna and salmon (just for the nice mix of color) and garnishing with micro greens. (You can skip the micro greens but I find the slight bitterness of the radish greens I got helped cut into the richness of the fish.) You have to be sure to get sushi-grade fish (I shopped at Berkeley Bowl West, which gets their fish every day and has a section of sushi-grade cuts) that’s fresh with no smell.
Whip this up for lunch or pack it for a picnic by the water, and maybe you might imagine a ukelele strumming in your head. 🙂 Enjoy!
Ahi Tuna-Salmon Poke Bowl
Makes 4 servings
4 to 6 oz. Ahi tuna (sushi-grade)
4 to 6 oz. salmon (sushi-grade)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
2 stalks green onion, finely diced (including the green part)
1 T toasted sesame seeds
1-2 cups* sushi rice
1 T rice vinegar
pinch of Hawaiian sea salt
shredded nori (seaweed) and micro greens for garnish
Slice your ahi tuna and salmon fillets into 1/2-inch cubes. Sprinkle a pinch of Hawaiian sea salt (or any sea salt like fleur de sel, but this is a Hawaiian recipe!) and coat the fish with soy sauce and sesame oil. Mix in chopped green onions and refrigerate for at least two hours to let the fish cure and marinate a bit.
*Make as much rice as needed. I use a rice cooker that automatically lets me know how much water and rice to make. But if you don’t have one, you can rinse your rice and then put it in a covered saucepan or pot. Make sure the rice is leveled throughout the bottom of the pan, then pour enough water so that the rice is covered with about a 1/4 inch of water above. Cover pot and bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer, and let cook for about 20-25 minutes (or until the rice looks fluffy and you don’t hear the water). Hint: You may need to leave the cover ajar to let some of the steam out, and if it’s your first time cooking rice, watch to make sure you don’t let it burn the bottom of the pan if the water evaporates too quickly.
When the rice is done, put into a large bowl and drizzle the rice vinegar and blend in. Add more to taste if needed.
When ready to serve, bring out the poke from the refrigerator and mix in the toasted sesame seeds. Place rice into bowls and then top with scoops of the poke. Then garnish with shredded nori and a bunch of micro greens.
Tip: If you can’t find tuna or it’s too expensive, another nice fatty, meaty fish I’ve seen is opah, which is also from Hawaii.
- A Review of Hawaiian Poke at Limu & Shoyu in San Francisco
- Review of Seattle-Style Teriyaki at Glaze Teriyaki Grill on Fillmore
- Part-Hawaiian Food Served Up at Grindz in San Francisco
- A Review of Sammy’s Aloha Take-Out at Pier 33 in San Francisco
- Frying Up a Hawaiian Favorite: Mochi or Mochiko Chicken Recipe
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