Poke is a raw fish salad from Hawaii, most famously made with yellowfin tuna (“Ahi”). The word “Pokē” itself is a Hawaiian verb that means to slice or cut. It’s not unlike other raw fish dishes worldwide (fish tartare, carpaccio, and sashimi, for example), but it holds a special place in my heart, having lived in Hawaii for most of my 20s.
Originally made with sea salt and seaweed, foreign ingredients like soy sauce, ginger, onion, and tomato were added later when other cultures brought their cuisines (and ingredients) to the islands. Poke as we know it today – with a base of fish cubes, soy sauce, onion, and salt – became popular in the 1970s when it started to appear in local cookbooks, and has been growing in popularity ever since.
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Ahi Poke (Gluten-Free, Paleo)
1 lb sashimi-grade tuna, cut into bite-sized pieces (see note below)
1/2 tsp sea salt, more to taste
1 tbsp tamari (or 1 1/4 tbsp coconut aminos)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp mirin (or a splash of apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp sesame seeds, more to garnish
1/2 tsp coconut palm sugar (honey okay)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2″ fresh grated ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
1 pinch togarashi powder
1/2 small Spanish (sweet) onion, thinly sliced
2 green onions, sliced
sesame seeds to taste
1. When choosing tuna, bluefin or yellowfin is preferred. Pick tuna that smells fresh (not fishy), is firm to the touch, and bright crimson in color. In other words, get the good stuff! Slice the fish into filets, then slice it into cubes. If you’re a fan of fish like me, cut it into nice big chunks; if the idea of biting into raw fish isn’t your gig, cut it a bit smaller. Salt the fish and set aside.
2. Combine the sauce ingredients, then add half of the sauce to the fish. Toss and taste; the fish should marry perfectly with the sauce, and be only lightly coated. As desired, add the rest of the sauce, and a pinch or two more salt. Toss with the sweet onion slices, cover, and refrigerate for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry, then garnish with green onions and sesame seeds before serving.
** Throw the Poke on top of some sushi rice for a Poke Bowl. Other additions to the basic Poke recipe: avocado slices, chopped tomatoes, and a personal favorite, furikake seaweed seasoning.
** For best results, eat within the first 24 hours.