Hawaiian Poke

Cooking with Beer by | Oct 2013 | Issue #81

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

With influences from many different cultures, the Hawaiian Islands have a culinary history unlike any other. Fish are in abundance here—opah, ono, swordfish, marlin and tuna, among others. But what to do with all this amazing fresh fish?

Poke is a local Hawaiian dish; the word means “to slice or cut into cubes.” Think sashimi-quality raw tuna made into a fresh salad. First, the tuna is skinned and de-boned. Then the blood line is removed, and the loin is cut into small cubes and tossed with a light dressing or marinade—similar to a ceviche, but there’s no citrus juice that “cooks” the fish with acid, so it’s more like a tartare. This showcases the light, full-flavored tuna. Accentuate the natural flavors with a touch of soy sauce, sesame oil, a crunch of seaweed, some sesame seeds or nuts, and a few veggies. Simple to make, this dish is perfect served by itself or with several other variations of poke; just add a seaweed salad, nori wraps and a pair of chopsticks.

You can change or substitute the ingredients in any of these recipes to suit your own tastes. For a vegan version, try adding a cubed, firm tofu in place of the tuna.

Classic Poke
This recipe is for the simplest poke—nothing to hide behind, the high-quality ingredients shine together.

Makes: 1 pound of poke, serving 6–8 people

Ingredients:
2 tbsp sesame oil, toasted
2 tbsp Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Firestone Walker Pale 31
1 tbsp soy sauce (sushi & sashimi)
1 tsp sea salt (try Hawaiian sea salt or fleur de sel)
1/3 cup green onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup onion, Maui or Walla Walla sweet, peeled and chopped medium fine
3 tbsp seaweed, limu kohou, lightly chopped
1 tbsp kukui nuts, roasted and ground (“inamona” in Hawaiian)
1 lb. tuna, sashimi quality, skipjack (bonito), ahi (yellowfin) or yellowtail (hamachi), skinned and cut into half-inch cubes

Directions:
In a medium-sized bowl, add the toasted sesame oil, soy sauce (or tamari, shoyu or Liquid Aminos), Pale Ale of choice (something more citrus forward on the hopping will add a nice floral brightness to the dish) and salt; whisk until combined.

In another bowl, add the green onion, sweet onion, seaweed, kukui nut and the fresh tuna. Carefully mix together with a spatula, being careful not to break apart any of the fish cubes. Next, re-whisk the sauce and pour over the tuna mixture. Toss to coat the poke evenly, then cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour; can be covered for up to 2 days.

Tips:
• Fresh seaweed can be found in some Asian markets or at a high-quality seafood counter. If you can’t find any, ask your fish monger to special order it. Each type has its own texture and flavor, giving the final poke its special twist.
• On the mainland, kukui nuts are harder to find. You can order them online.
• As this dish is raw, high-quality ingredients are needed. If sashimi grade (sushi quality) is not available, order it from your fish monger.

Wasabi Poke
The addition of wasabi to this poke recipe plays up the sashimi quality of this dish, enhancing the fish with some nasal heat.

Makes: 1 pound of poke, serving 6–8 people

Ingredients:
1/4 cup soy, shoyu or tamari sauce
2 tbsp Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Firestone Walker Pale 31
1 tsp sesame oil, toasted
1 tsp Hawaiian ginger (baby or young), peeled and grated fine
1 tsp wasabi, prepared
3 tbsp seaweed, limu kohou, lightly chopped
2 tbsp green onion, sliced thin
2 tbsp roe, masago (capelin or smelt fish eggs) or other caviar-like tobiko
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted, white, black or mixed
1 lb. tuna, sashimi quality, skipjack (bonito), ahi (yellowfin) or yellowtail (hamachi), skinned and cut into half-inch cubes

Directions:
In a bowl, add the soy sauce, beer, sesame oil, grated ginger (a Microplane works very well for this task) and prepared wasabi. Using a whisk, blend all the ingredients until incorporated. Set aside.

In another bowl, add the seaweed, green onion, caviar/roe, sesame seeds and the tuna; mix together with the wasabi dressing until just combined. Wrap with plastic wrap and let the tuna marinate for at least an hour and up to 2 days.

Maui Poke
With all the ingredients in this poke being from Maui, what better recipe title for this version?

Makes: 1 pound of poke, serving 6–8 people

Ingredients:
1 tbsp sesame oil, toasted
1 tbsp soy sauce (sushi & sashimi)
1 tbsp Kona Brewing Co. Wailua Ale (or other ale brewed with passion fruit)
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce
1 tsp Hawaiian ginger (baby or young), peeled and grated fine
1 tsp garlic, peeled and grated fine
1 tsp Hawaiian sea salt
1/4 cup green onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup onion, Maui or Walla Walla sweet, peeled and chopped medium fine
3 tbsp seaweed, ogo, lightly chopped
2 tbsp macadamia nuts, roasted and chopped fine
1 lb. tuna, sashimi quality, skipjack (bonito), ahi (yellowfin) or yellowtail (hamachi), skinned and cut into half-inch cubes

Directions:
In a bowl, using a whisk, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, passion fruit-infused ale, Sriracha hot sauce, ginger, garlic and salt. Set aside to use as dressing.

In a second bowl, add the green onion, Maui onion, seaweed, macadamia nuts (can substitute with a different nut) and tuna. Fold the ingredients together, then top with the poke dressing until all the ingredients are evenly coated. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap, and let the flavors infuse for 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Spicy Tuna Poke
Mixing mayonnaise with Sriracha hot sauce creates a rich, fatty and spicy sauce that enhances the naturally fatty tuna. With each bite, the heat level climbs.

Makes: 1 pound of poke, serving 6 – 8 people

Ingredients:
1/3 cup mayonnaise, preferably homemade (no low fat/no cholesterol versions)
3 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce or sambal (chili garlic sauce)
2 tbsp sesame oil, toasted
2 tbsp roe, masago (capelin or smelt fish eggs)
1 tbsp beer, Maui Brewing Co. Big Swell IPA, Lemongrass Saison or other style
1/2 tsp soy, shoyu or tamari sauce
1/2 tsp sea salt, preferably Hawaiian sea salt
1/4 cup green onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup onion, Maui or Walla Walla sweet, peeled and chopped medium fine
1 tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted
1 lb. tuna, sashimi quality, skipjack (bonito), ahi (yellowfin) or yellowtail (hamachi), skinned and cut into half-inch cubes

Directions:
In a bowl, add the mayonnaise, Sriracha (adjusting the amount to your heat tolerance), sesame oil, roe/caviar, beer, soy sauce and salt; mix with a whisk until combined.

In a separate bowl, add the green onions, sweet onions, sesame seeds and tuna. Fold in all the Sriracha mayonnaise dressing (also great to use with rice noodles, or as a sauce or dip) and stir to combine. Let all the flavors infuse the poke for at least an hour and up to 2 days, depending on how fresh the fish is.