I woke up with Hawaiian dreams in my mind. Actually to be honest I woke up with Southern California in my mind – which to me really means avocados, sun, flip flops and having access to every type of cuisine under the sun!
Our family recently relocated to the South and although we already love it here, there are days when I really miss the variety of foods and the incredible melting pot of cuisines that are at your reach in Southern California.
Whatever cuisine you are craving, from the best Mexican tacos to Chinese dim sum, it is all there one car ride away! – it may be a loooong car ride due to traffic but it’s there for sure!
So until I figure out my way around the south, I thought why not recreate one of my favorite Hawaiian dishes at home? Poke!!!
What is Poke?
Poke (pronounced po-kay) means “chunks” or “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian. Poke has been a staple in Hawaiian cuisine for centuries. Traditionally, a raw fish salad that is served as an appetizer, it consists of cubed ahi tuna marinated in soy sauce and sesame. There are many versions of poke, and they are not all necessarily made from seafood either; avocado poke anyone? Also, when it comes to seasonings, the sky is the limit. You can find poke seasoned with mayo, wasabi and even kimchi. Poke is everywhere in Hawaii, you can buy it at grocery stores, beach shacks and even at gas stations.
Besides poke, you can also find poke bowls in the Aloha state, and they are incredibly popular in the mainland, especially in New York and Los Angeles. So here is my homemade version of this fresh, healthy and delicious dish and some ideas of how to make it a favorite in your own home.
Mine starts with fresh ahi tuna. If you can find sushi grade tuna at the market, go for it! Otherwise, sashimi grade works well.
Fresh ahi tuna dressed in a flavorful and super easy 4 – ingredients citrus ponzu, really it cannot be any easier to put together!! The ingredients are readily available in the Asian section of any supermarket.
As my base, I used white rice (because rice and I have a love affair). You can also use brown rice or quinoa if you prefer. If you are following a no-grain or low carb diet, you can use a mix of greens like spinach and kale as your base.
Then you pile up on veggies and fruits! Creamy avocados, sliced cucumbers, edamame and mango, yes mango! The combination of sweet and savory is AMAZING!! Then the toppings, you must have toppings! Sliced chiles, cilantro leaves, scallions, sesame seeds, and crunchy nuts, yum!
The only thing missing is creamy sriracha sauce for some heat and extra pow! I make mine with mayo because my boys like it that way and a little bit goes a long way, honestly it’s not like you are having a whole jar of mayo in one sitting! So relax! However, if you feel like making it super healthy and figure friendly, substitute the mayo for 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt. There’s no need to panic!
- No mirin? No problem!! Use rice vinegar or white wine vinegar mixed with a bit of sugar (1 tablespoon rice vinegar + 1/2 teaspoon sugar)
- Furikake! furi….what? – Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning that packs a lot of flavor. My boys love to sprinkle furikake on poke bowls and other rice dishes to add an extra layer of wow! Some may contain msg so read the ingredient’s label.
- On a vegan diet? Substitute the tuna with tofu or avocado and skip the mayo! Use vegan Greek yogurt for the creamy sriracha instead!