Poke, pronounced ‘po-kay,’ means to cut into small pieces, and the eponymous dish descends from the island tradition of preparing freshly caught reef fish with sea salt, seaweed, and crushed, roasted nuts of the kukui or candlenut tree. Japanese immigration introduced sesame oil and soy sauce to the raw fish that reminded them of sashimi. But it wasn’t until 1991, when a group of island chefs at a cooking symposium decided to focus on what they called Hawai‘i Regional Cuisine, that the modern version of poke was born.
Our version borrows the basics of Hawaiian poke technique, uses some traditional Japanese flavors, and adds the combination of condiments, fresh vegetables, and pickled garnishes you might find in a modern poke bowl.
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From the kitchen
Let the albacore thaw on the counter for 30-45 minutes. It’s easier to slice and work with when it’s still partially frozen.
Cut the loin into half-inch slices, then cut those into roughly half-inch pieces. Add the oil and mix to coat the fish with oil.
Add the oil and mix to coat the fish with oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Drizzle with ponzu, soy sauce, or both just before serving.
For an appetizer, serve with crackers or chips. Mound over rice and serve with an assortment of fresh and pickled vegetables for a complete meal.
Cut carrot into matchsticks, cook in salted boiling water 1 minute, drain, drizzle with sesame oil, pinch of salt.
Slice Persian-style cucumber into thin half circles, add rice vinegar and Okinawan brown sugar.