A Simple Poke Bowl for Starters
Like almost every food blogger on the planet, I spent the last couple of weeks reading every article I could find that looked at food trends for the coming year. One of the things that most prognosticators agreed upon was the poke (pronounced po-kay), is going to be a thing. On reading that, I immediately flashed back to my first visit to Hawaii (which happened longer ago than I care to admit). The poke bowl, you see, is something that every Hawaiian grows up eating, and along with Spam, seems to be a kind of state fetish. In a nutshell, poke (which means chunks in native Hawaiian) is typically chilled, uncooked tuna, dressed in soy sauce and served over warm seasoned rice, often accompanied by rehydrated, seasoned seaweed. From that starting point, just about anything goes into the bowl. Think of it as a cross among sushi, tuna tartare and an Asian rice bowl.
I remember having my first poke in Honolulu in a little hole-in-the-wall place not far from my hotel. I was knew to sushi, but far enough along that the idea of raw tuna wasn’t an issue. What I ate that day was simple and straightforward. And it was great. I immediately became a fan and was very disappointed when I got home to find that getting my hands on sashimi-grade tuna was nearly impossible. Then I promptly forgot about the dish. Now it’s back on my radar and apparently trendy. Oh well.
The recipe below is an attempt to recreate that first taste of poke. It’s basic and delicious. It makes a great starter or a nice light lunch.Feel free to elaborate on it with whatever gets your juices going (one of my favorite variations has avocado and fresh tomato).
- 1 1/2 lbs. fresh sashimi grade tuna, cut into 3/4" cubes
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 3-4 cups white rice (sushi rice is perfect)
- Rice vinegar, to taste
- Sesame seeds, for garnish
- Rehydrated seaweed (wasame and or kombu) for garnish
- Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
- Place the tuna in a glass or plastic bowl with the shallot, soy sauce and sesame oil, toss and chill.
- While the tuna chills, prepare the rice and season to taste with rice vinegar and a little of the seaweed, minced.
- To serve, mound the warm rice in individual bowls, top with marinated tuna, more seaweed, scallions and sesame seeds.