When meeting someone for the first time, it is customary to ask where are they from or what typical dishes their area is well-known for? When asked this question, I answer with a smile saying, “I am from Hawaii.” Their expression shows a sense of amusement as I go into detail of the well-known dish and local favorite from Hawaii is called Poke.
Having been born and raised in Hawaii, I was privileged enough to be exposed to a variety of dishes from different cultures. In Hawaii, numerous cultures are merged together leading people to refer Hawaii as the “Melting Pot of the Pacific.” Asian descendents make up the majority of Hawaii’s population including Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Japanese, etc leading to the culinary dishes being influence by these cultures.
Poke’ combines fresh flavors from the ocean which includes raw yellowfin tuna (known as Ahi), seaweed, seasoned with soy sauce, diced sweet onions, green onions, chilis and fragrant sesame oil all infused in a mixture that is perfect to enjoy at a beach picnic. This dish is regarded to be heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine.
Depending on the preparation, the poke dish can be very diverse by encompassing different textures and flavors. The various combinations utilize other ingredients aside from the normal yellowfin tuna and can range from raw bluefin crab or octopus. Kim chee flavors from Korea have also been incorporated into this dish to provide a pungent spicy, sour flavor to which goes in harmony with the fresh seafood.
With just a few ingredients, this dish can be prepared at home in a matter of a few minutes. The perfect appetizer for guest willing to explore the flavors of the ocean and allow their palettes to understand the culinary perspectives of the Asian people. A dish that offers the taste of paradise made to fulfill your soul and satisfy your cravings.