Ahi tuna poke is a refreshing and savory Hawaiian snack, perfect for warm weather – or anytime you want to pretend you’re in a tropical paradise.
Hey, remember the original Facebook poke? Back in the day, that weird creepy/flirty function that served no function whatsoever?
This is not that kind of poke. It’s a heavenly Hawaiian snack, pronounced po-kay, and it’s hit some kind of popularity tornado this year. From poke bowls to burritos, my instagram account is seeing a new kind of fishy activity. And I love it.
Speaking of back in the day, (almost) five years ago Ross and I were on our honeymoon in Hawaii. It was perfect and glorious and the kind of vacation that puts you in a funk for a month when you get back because you are NO LONGER IN HAWAII. (I still haven’t gotten over it.) And although the beach was unforgettable, I also have fantastic memories of going to a local dive and eating poke on the beach. Even Ross, who normally doesn’t get enthused about fish, couldn’t help but smack his lips over the incredibly fresh flavor and savory sauce.
Ahi Tuna Poke is a simple dish that highlights the natural taste of tuna with just a few ingredients to complement it – and it’s also fast and easy if you know what you’re doing.
A couple years ago for Valentine’s Day, I recreated our honeymoon poke at home. It turned out to be a deliciously successful trip down memory lane. However, since this experiment took place before poke’s popularity exploded on the interwobs, and it was surprisingly difficult to find a recipe and learn about serving raw fish safely.
Not so anymore! When I searched last weekend for the recipe I had followed previously, I found that there are a lot more options available nowadays, although they all follow the same basic formula. (Did I mention it’s incredibly simple?)
There is also a lot more information available about serving and eating raw tuna. But for your sake, dear readers, I’ll spare you the trouble of the internet searches and give you the basics for your edification here.
Guidelines for making poke with raw tuna:
- If you can get tuna straight from the ocean, prepped by a fishmonger you know and love…I’m jealous. Eat that fresh tuna and enjoy the heck out of it.
- If, however, you buy your fish from a grocery store like most people, be aware that there is the potential for contamination. Although tuna does not carry the same risk of parasites as, say, salmon, problems can start once it starts getting sliced and diced on land. If someone isn’t careful about keeping cutting boards and knives and other tools segregated and clean, various bugs can be spread from one fish to another. Unfortunately, the labels “sushi/sushimi grade” have no meaning in the United States. They are unregulated and unhelpful in choosing fish.
- The good news is according to the FDA, freezing at certain temperatures will kill these bugs. (In fact, last year New York passed a regulation requiring all raw fish to be frozen before serving.)
- The other good news is that frozen fish can be just as fresh or fresher than so-called “fresh” tuna. If that makes sense. In other words, if fish is frozen right after it’s caught, it might be better than unfrozen fish that sits around for a few days out of the water.
- So my personal recommendation: buy frozen fish, save a few bucks, prevent a few bugs. Talk to your friendly neighborhood grocery store to find the best quality frozen you can.
Don’t worry, that was the only hard part! Once you find your preferred fish, you simply mix it with some soy sauce, sesame oil, onion, sesame seeds, and a few other goodies according to your own preferences. Stir, chill, and enjoy. Serving tip: serve it in bowl nestled in a bigger bowl of ice for maximum coolness. In all senses of the word.
Recipe barely adapted from Hawaii Magazine.
- 1 lb. ahi tuna, cut bite-size pieces
- ¼ cup light soy sauce
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- ¼ cup chopped Maui onion or sweet yellow onion
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 1 chili pepper, seeded and diced (optional)
- Sea salt, to taste
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
- 2 tsp. toasted macadamia nuts, finely chopped
- Combine all ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir gently.
- Cover and refrigerate for a couple hours to meld the flavors together.
- Garnish with additional sesame seeds, green onions, and macadamia nuts, and serve.
Recipe barely adapted from Hawaii Magazine.
Like what you see? Follow us on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see what we’re cooking next. Or here’s another fishy idea: open face smoked salmon and avocado sandwiches. Mmmmmm yeah!