Poké (pronounced po-kay) is a popular dish on many Hawaiian menus- from up-scale Waikiki restaurants to the humble corner 7-11, almost every place serves poké. The word poké itself basically means anything cut into chunks, and comes from “pokē”, the Hawaiian verb for “section” or “to slice or cut”. Poké was probably first created by fishermen who’d season the cut-offs from their catch to serve as a snack during their work day. The most traditional versions of this dish are made with aku (an oily tuna) and he’e (octopus), but these days ahi (yellowfin tuna) is probably the most popular.
But what is poké? Well, it’s kind of like a fish salad, for lack of a better description. If you’ve ever had sashimi, carpaccio, tartare, or ceviche, poké is somewhat similar in that it’s also a raw fish dish, but the preparation is different. Unlike sashimi, where the fish is sliced thin and long, or tartare, where the fish (usually tuna) is diced and held together by a sauce that acts like a “glue”, poké is cut into thick cubes and mixed as a free-form salad. Poké is probably closest to ceviche, but whereas ceviche uses bright citrus flavors to bring the dish together, poké is all about savory, bold, umami flavors (think of it kind of like white wine versus red wine).
- 8 ounces sashimi-grade ahi tuna, cut into small cubes
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt (preferably Hawaiian alaea)
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- Pinch chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon green onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon furikake rice seasoning
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/8 teaspoon inamona (roasted, ground kukui nut)* (optional)
*Notes: You can use whatever kind of furikake you like in this dish- I typically go with a nori komi furikake (seaweed and sesame seed) though, as it works well in this recipe. Inamona is very authentic addition to poké, but it’s also very difficult to find outside of Hawaii. A finely crushed macadamia nut makes a fine substitution.
Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel bowl, gently mix well, and chill.
Prepare and consume on the same day- freshness is key both to good poké and good food safety.