My family and I ate fish practically every night during the summers when I was growing up. My whole family loves fishing — almost religiously. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of hanging out with my cousins on my dad’s or uncle’s fishing boat. Although I liked being out on the water, I secretly (maybe not so secretly) was tired of eating so much fish. However, a few years ago, I had my first bite of my Uncle Rick’s poke, and everything changed. I never knew I could love something that I was previously so sick of.
Poke is a traditional Hawaiian style of dicing food into cubes. It is most commonly done with sashimi (raw fish). Once I learned how to make my own take on it, I was shocked at how easy it was to prepare! Here is my poke recipe — with a few of my own touches. Feel free to add your own spin!
1 part sugar
1 part Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce
1 part sesame oil
1.5 parts shoyu (soy sauce)
0.5 parts ground roasted sesame seeds
Optional fresh grated ginger (small amount, to taste)
Mix it all together in a bowl.
The best fish to use is fresh tuna, diced. My favorites are ahi, yellowfin, or bluefin. Bluefin can be pricey, so I likely wouldn’t buy it from a store (I’ve only eaten this holy delicacy when someone in my family has physically caught it). You can also use yellowtail or salmon, though the latter is not traditionally used for poke. (I’ve also heard of using cured octopus, but I’ve personally never tried it.)
When choosing fish, remember: the fresher, the better. Definitely try not to get anything previously frozen — but if you must, it’s not the end of the world.
Next, dice the fish. If you prefer a fishier taste, dice them into bigger chunks, but otherwise, go smaller.
Mix together the sauce and fish immediately before serving, and add any toppings you want! I like to use diced onion (Maui, sweet, or brown or chopped green onion), diced or sliced avocado, edamame, and sometimes imitation crab. Then, sprinkle with salt or other spices if desired. I personally enjoy using furikake (a Japanese seasoning made of sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and dried fish).
Poke is best if eaten within 30 minutes of mixing for the freshest flavor. It can be eaten with chips, in a cone, with nori (seaweed) and rice, or by itself! I prefer it with short-grain sushi rice, but any other kind of rice works, too.