Poke, pronounced POH-keh, is a common appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine. Poke is considered a local food and a comfort food to the Hawaiian people. If you stop in a Hawaiian grocery store, you can find several different varieties for sale.
In the simplest terms, poke is a fish salad, loaded with condiments. For centuries, Hawaiian fisherman cut their catch into cubes and seasoned it with whatever they had. Since the 1970s, Japanese and Asian cultures have influenced the type of ingredients that are mixed in with these cubed fish.
The condiments usually include sea salt, soy sauce, roasted crushed candlenut, Maui onion sesame oil, seaweed and chopped chili pepper. While most poke is made with yellowfin tuna, it can be substituted with cured octopus, raw salmon and other types of raw tuna. Here are five simple steps to make the best poke in Honolulu, HI:
- The first layer is rice: The local chefs agree that white rice seasoned with rice vinegar and chopped seaweed works well. White rice can be substituted with brown rice.
- Selecting fresh fish is the most important part of the best poke in Honolulu, HI: While yellowfin tuna is most popular in the islands, the local chefs also recommend bluefin tuna, which can be found on the East coast. When buying fish, do not buy farm-raised fish. Humans tend to feed fish raised on farms with artificial foods. Before buying fish, consider the smell, color, size and texture. Good tuna should have a very faint smell or no smell at all. It should be a bright red color with a little fat. It should also be firm.
- Prepare the fish: First cut the fish into fillets and then into bite-size cubes. The size of the cubes is up to individual preference. Some people don’t like the slimy taste of fish; therefore, a smaller cube size is better. Salt the fish with sea salt.
- Prepare the condiments: Local chefs tend to disagree about what condiments should be used on the best poke in Honolulu, HI. Some like to keep the dish simple, while some like to add spice to it. You should do whatever you prefer and whatever you think you can handle. The basic condiments include brown onions, green onions, avocado, soy sauce, fish eggs, cherry tomatoes and sesame seeds. To add kick to the dish, blend chili peppers with sea salt and olive oil to make a sauce and mix it with mayonnaise and eel sauce.
- Presentation is key: You’ll want to present the dish in a way that looks appetizing. Start with a single serving size of rice. Pour some of the chopped fish on top and add the condiments you choose. You’ll want to make the dish as a whole look like a pyramid.
It could be fun to experiment and make your own poke, but a trip to taste the best poke in Honolulu, HI might be worth it.