Aloha, Citizens! 🙂
Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is a raw salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine. Pokē is the Hawaiian verb for “section” or “to slice or cut” and the classic Ahi poke is made with yellowfin tuna.
Modern poke typically consists of cubed raw ʻahi marinated with sea salt, a small amount of soy sauce, inamona (roasted crushed candlenut), sesame oil, limu seaweed, and chopped chili pepper.
Other variations of ingredients may include cured heʻe (octopus), other types of raw tuna, raw salmon and other kinds of sashimi, sliced or diced Maui onion, furikake, hot sauce (such as sambal olek), chopped ʻohiʻa (tomato), tobiko (flying fish roe), ogo or other types of seaweed, and garlic.
The selection of condiments has been heavily influenced by Japanese and other Asian cuisines.
The traditional Hawaiian poke consists of meat that has been gutted, skinned, and deboned. It is sliced across the backbone as fillet, then served with traditional condiments such as sea salt, candlenut, seaweed, and limu. Some Hawaiians would suck the flesh off the bones and spit out the skin and bones.
During the 19th century, recently introduced foreign vegetables such as tomatoes and onions were included, and now Maui onions are a very common ingredient.
According to the food historian Rachel Laudan, the present form of poke became popular around the 1970s. It used skinned, deboned, and filleted raw fish served with wasabi and soy sauce. This form of poke is still common in the Hawaiian islands.
My version of this classic recipe uses Aleppo pepper for its slightly smoky spiciness, a bit of Yuzu Kosho (a Japanese condiment made from numbing buds of sansho pepper mixed into a paste with hot chili pepper), a bit of minty shiso leaves for flavor and replaces the hard to find kukui nut with cashews. I also add a few mustard sprouts for some extra bite.
I use a range of tobiko (flying fish roe) to add color, texture and additional flavor to my poke. Orange is actually tobikos natural color – no dyes or flavoring are used. Yellow tobiko is achieved by using Yuzu citrus and is known to have a refreshing zest to it. Green is made with wasabi!
Choose ahi with a nice brightly red color. It should smell completely clean, with no fishy aroma at all. Touch it; it should feel clean and silky smooth, never slimy or sticky.
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