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TIP OF THE DAY: Poke

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Classic tuna poke. You can buy it ready-to-serve from Pete’s Seafood Club.

 

Hannah Kaminsky is on a food safari in Hawaii, the land of abundant produce and poke.

Poke is a raw fish and vegetable dish served as an appetizer or salad course in Hawaiian cuisine. A relative of ceviche, crudo, tartare and tataki, it’s a combination of raw fish and vegetables that becomes a salad appetizer.

Actually pronounced poe-KEH, it is mis-pronounced poe-KEY by enough people that the latter pronunciation is becoming an accepted alternative.

Poke is Hawaiian for “to section” or “to slice or cut.” The most popular recipe, ahi poke, is made with yellowfin tuna marinated in sea salt, soy sauce, roasted crushed candlenut (inamona), sesame oil, limu seaweed and chopped chili pepper. Alternatively, it is served sashimi-style with wasabi and soy sauce.

Other types of tuna can be substituted for the ahi, or you can use a different seafood entirely: Raw salmon and octopus are popular. Vegetarians can substitute tofu.

 
In less civilized times, some Hawaiians would suck the flesh off the bones and spit out the skin and bones. During the 19th century, mainland vegetables such as tomatoes and onions (now Maui onions) were included were introduced, and are now common ingredients.

Other accompanying condiments include furikake seasoning*, garlic, hot sauce (such as sambal olek), ogonori (ogo) or other seaweed, sesame seeds and tobiko (flying fish roe).

 
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*Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning meant to be sprinkled on top of rice. It typically consists of a mixture of dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt and MSG. There are different blends, including Ebi Fumi Furikake, Katsuo Fumi Furikake, Nori Fumi Furikake, Noritamago Furikake, Salmon Furikake, Seto Fumi Furikake, Shiso Fumi Furikake and Wasabi Fumi Furikake. You can find them at Asian food stores or online.

 

RECIPE: POKE TOFU

How about a variation for vegetarians? This recipe was “ever so slightly adapted from Aloha Tofu,” by Hannah Kaminsky. “Like some of the best dishes,” says Hannah, “this one couldn’t be simpler to prepare.”

The is a classic dish made by the tofu masters themselves. Their rendition adheres very closely to the traditional fish-based formula, substituting fried tofu cubes for the raw fish—a move that should appease those who can appreciate tofu well enough, but not so much that they care to eat it raw.

The finished dish is sold in their brand new eatery, but since I didn’t have a chance to scope out that scene as well, I’m grateful that the full recipe is published on their website as well. No strings attached, no gimmicks or marketing ploys; just the desire to share their tofu and new ways to enjoy it. Now that’s the Aloha Spirit in action.

Ingredients For 4-6 Side Appetizer Servings

  • 1 package (12 ounces) deep fried tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped ogo limu seaweed (substitute hijijki)
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • Pinch crushed red repper flakes, to taste
  •  

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    Tofu poke. Photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky.

     
    Preparation

    1. TOSS the tofu, all of the chopped vegetables, and seasonings together in a large bowl. Thoroughly combine all of the ingredients and coat them with the marinade.

    2. COVER and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving, or up to a day. Serve cold.
     
    Variations like this have inspired other recipes. Ko Olina’s Pizza Corner restaurant in Kapolei, Hawaii serves an Original Hawaiian Poke Pizza.

    We look forward to trying it!

      




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