By Chef Christopher Quirk, a chef instructor in the School of Culinary Arts
In Hawaii, poke (pronounced po-kay) is considered an everyman’s food. It’s something you find as a roadside staple or prepared on a beach very simply—it’s typically diced fresh fish with soy, sesame oil, fish roe and toasted sesame seed. It’s a straightforward yet satisfying meal. Locals there rely on fish that’s easily caught off shore like Ahi (tuna). Ideally, it should be relatively inexpensive, simply prepared—and delicious.
Although Kendall is on the Great Lakes, our local fresh fish isn’t quite as varied. I recommend finding sushi-grade salmon to make this dish sing. What’s best about poke is that it can be anything you want it to be, provided you use high-quality fish, which means you may add rice and vegetables (I recommend seaweed salad) to vary the flavors and textures.
Yields 3 to 4 servings
1 tablespoon of finely diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon of finely chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, Hawaiian if possible
1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon of crushed red chili flakes, to taste
1 tablespoon of furikake flakes
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of sesame oil, or more, to taste
1 pound of fresh sushi-grade salmon*, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 ounces of salmon roe or tobiko (flying fish roe)*
Lightly toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Green onion, for garnish
Sushi meshi (seasoned sushi rice), see below for recipe
4 ounces of goma wakame (seaweed salad), optional
1 diced avocado, optional
- Combine the first eight ingredients (yellow onions to sesame oil) in a bowl and mix until well combined. Add cubed salmon and mix gently to combine with the sauce.
- Divide the rice into four bowls. Divide the poke onto the rice, divide the avocado or wakame onto the rice as well.
- Garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds, green onion, and either salmon or flying fish roe.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This will not improve with long refrigeration time, so just chilled is best.
- Serve with goma wakame (seaweed salad) or diced avocado and steamed rice.
*Warning: Consumption of raw or undercooked fish and shellfish may substantially increase the risk of foodborne illness, so purchasing from a vendor which specializes or deals regularly with sushi quality fish is vitally important.
Yield 4 servings
2 cups of medium grain Japanese style rice (e.g. Calrose or Nishiki)
3 cups of water
4 tablespoons of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 and 1/2 tablespoons of salt
- Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan.
- Stir in the rice, cover and return to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook covered for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to steam covered for 20 minutes.
- Turn the rice out into a large bowl.
- Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt, and sprinkle it onto the rice and toss to coat completely.
- Allow the rice to cool to room temperature.