What is Hawaiian Poke (Aloha Poke)? It’s a delicious, easy-to-make appetizer or main course traditionally made with ahi tuna, soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions, and – of course – many variations thereof.
Poke is Hawaiian for “to slice” or “to cut crosswise.” In this case, it means diced raw fish.
Aloha Poke aka Hawaiian Poke
When digging a little deeper into the history of this dish, traditional poke was probably simple: Hawaiian reef fishermen were cutting up their catch for a snack while out fishing. They then added a little Hawaiian sea salt and some crushed macadamia nuts, and were good to go. Poke anyone?
Poke is pronounced “Poh-keh” – not poke or poki. In the Hawaiian language, every syllable is pronounced. Did you know that the Hawaiian alphabet consists only of 12 letters and 1 symbol?
So let’s try that: How do you pronounce the name of Hawaii’s first monarch Kamehameha? Exactly. His full name actually was Kalani Paiʻea Wohi o Kaleikini Kealiʻikui Kamehameha o ʻIolani i Kaiwikapu kauʻi Ka Liholiho Kūnuiākea.
And one more for fun: Say aloud the word of Hawaii’s state fish before watching the video below: Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa.
How To Make Fresh Ahi Tuna Poke (Ahi Poke Recipe)
It’s straightforward. But there’s one catch (sorry for the pun): The seafood you’re using in this raw dish has to be sushi quality. Ask the fishmonger at your local grocery store or supermarket about the quality of the fish you intend to buy. They should know.
I’ve been making raw fish dishes (sushi, ceviche, poke) for years, so I’ve gotten to know the fishmonger at my local grocery store personally. And that’s the goal. You want sashimi grade tuna. If you’re not sure about the freshness and quality of the fish you’re getting, don’t buy it.
Tip: A fresh saltwater fish should never smell fishy; it should smell like the sea. The best way to buy fish would be whole fish. The eyes of the fish will always give away the freshness of the fish, aka clear eyes. The problem with purchasing ahi tuna (which refers to the tuna species yellowfin and bigeye) is the size. A good-sized yellowfin tuna is 40” to 80″ long and can easily weigh a couple of hundred pounds. That’s a lot of ahi poke.
1 lb sushi grade tuna, cubed
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/3 c thinly sliced red (or yellow) onion
1/2 c sliced scallions aka green onions (green part only)
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (or to taste)
2 Tbsp seaweed (optional)
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional)
Sheets of dried seaweed (nori) can easily be found in the “International section” of your local grocery store. Cut one sheet in half with scissors and cut it in about 1-1/2″ strips. Soak the seaweed in water for a couple of minutes. Squeeze out excess water and set aside.
Cut the tuna into 3/4” cubes and mix with all other ingredients in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator for a minimum of 15 minutes but no longer than 2 hours. This will ensure enough time for the fish to absorb the flavors without getting mushy.
Poke (Bowl) Serving Suggestions
If served as an appetizer, I like to place the poke on Asian soup spoons. It’s the perfect way to enjoy this simple yet impressive and refreshing dish.
When served as a main course, place some white rice in a bowl and top with poke and a couple of avocado slices. By the way: Just because it’s from Hawaii doesn’t mean you have to add pineapple 😅
Tip: When serving poke over rice, make sure that your rice has cooled down to room temperature before adding the poke. Otherwise, your tuna will start to cook.
Poke Bowl Near Me
No need to Google that term anymore. Now you know how to make your own refreshing, super healthy poke that will transport your taste buds directly to the beautiful islands of Hawaii. No airplane ticket or cooking required.
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Hawaiian Poke (Aloha Poke)
- 1 lb sushi grade tuna, cubed
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1/3 c thinly sliced red (or yellow) onion
- 1/2 c sliced scallions aka green onions (green part only)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt (or to taste)
- 2 Tbsp seaweed (optional)
- 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional)
- Cut one sheet of dried seaweed (nori) in half with scissors and cut it in about 1-1/2″ strips.
- Soak the seaweed in water for a couple of minutes.
- Squeeze out excess water and set aside.
- Cut the tuna into 3/4” cubes and mix with all other ingredients in a large bowl.
- Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator for a minimum of 15 minutes but no longer than 2 hours.
Poke (Bowl) Serving Suggestions
- If served as an appetizer, I like to place the poke on Asian soup spoons. It’s the perfect way to enjoy this simple yet impressive and refreshing dish.
- When served as a main course, place some white rice in a bowl and top with poke and a couple of avocado slices.
- Tip: When serving poke over rice, make sure that your rice has cooled down to room temperature before adding the poke. Otherwise, your tuna will start to cook.
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