You say Poke, we say Poh-kay

07 July, 2017

If you’re a fan of sushi then you’re going to love this summer’s hot trend, Poke. These Hawaiian-inspired sushi bowls are fresh, colourful and packed with all your favourite ingredients – say aloha and dive in

What is Poke?

Poke simply means ‘to cut’ or ‘section’ and traditionally consists of chunks of fresh, raw fish, served with Hawaiian sea salt and mixed with crunchy local limu seaweed.

How does that work if you don’t live in Hawaii?

If you can adopt the sunny, laid-back attitude of Hawaii, then you can enjoy poke wherever you are. It’s been a huge success in Los Angeles, where authors Celia Farrar and Guy Jackson first discovered it. After months of research and recipe testing they started Eat Poke, London’s first poke eatery, which proved that even with Britain’s climate, it works.

What are the key ingredients? 

Choose local, seasonal produce, pick a marinade, throw in a pickle or crunchy topping and that’s it!

That’s all?

Yes. There are no hard and fast rules. Celia and Guy are inspired by the phrase Olakino Maika’i, which means to live healthily. The key for them is to select the freshest ingredients available to you. This might mean fresh tuna in the Tropical Ahi Poke, or it might mean perfectly ripe chopped avocado and cooked sweet potato. 

How can we get fresh enough fish?

Make friends with your fishmonger! Especially if the idea of sourcing and handling raw fish is the most intimidating part of creating your poke dish. Most fishmongers will descale your fish, remove the internal bits and pieces (keep the roe if there is any, it is yum), fillet the fish and may even debone it.

Does it matter what rice I use?

Celia and Guy use a short-grain white variety, normally labelled as sushi rice. Or brown or black grains in their recipes. For perfectly tender grains, they rinse the rice a few times in a pan of cold water until the water stops turning cloudy before they cook it. Once the rice has cooked, they leave it covered to steam for 10 minutes before turning into a bowl (they use a sushi rice bowl) and season it with mirin, rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Check out this cooking rice guide for a foolproof step-by-step method.

What else?

There’s not much more to it than that. There are a few ingredients that you may not have heard of that are worth keeping in your cupboard if you plan to make poke often, the rest can be easily bought from the supermarket.

Black + white sesame seeds
Little pearls of joy. Almost as important as soy sauce. 

Dried shiitake mushrooms
These add so much umami. Once hydrated, these meaty mushrooms can be used for stocks, pickles or as the star of a dish.

Miso paste
This is made from fermented soy beans. Both sweet white miso and salty red miso are useful.

Togarashi powder
A spicy seasoning made from a famous Japanese blend of seven flavours, which adds a glorious kick.

Wakame seaweed
A type of dried seaweed. It is available from most specialist stores. 

Wasabi powder

Japanese horseradish packs a punch. Look for brands with at least 4 per cent wasabi. It needs to be mixed with water before use.

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