What is poke?
Poke is a dish made with raw fish served over rice in a bowl along with various toppings. Originating from the Polynesian Islands, it became a mainstay of Hawaii, where ingredients from Japan were introduced, such as soy sauce. The name ‘poke’ became popular in the 1970s; it means ‘to slice’ and refers to the special way fish, such as tuna, is cut against the grain for this dish. There is no acidity used to cook the fish as there is with ceviche so the fish stays raw as it does with sashimi.
What does a poke bowl normally contain?
Poke bowls have become increasingly trendy in recent years and the ingredients mirror other food trends also emerging:
Base - sushi rice is commonly used, but regular white and brown rice could also be used.
Fish - The raw fish is normally tuna, but salmon and cooked prawns can also be used, or you can opt for a mixture. If you are not a fan of fish, cooked chicken or cubes of firm tofu could also be substituted. Any protein that absorbs the dressing will work.
Vegetables - fresh sliced mango, sliced ripe avocado, grated carrots, chopped cucumber, fried onions, and edamame are all great toppings.
Additional toppings - For the crunchy contrast use a scattering of sesame seeds, panko breadcrumbs, and for a spicy or fragrant topping go for furikake (Japanese seasoning), coriander, nori seaweed, and wasabi.
Sauce - spicy mayo (ours is flavoured with shichimi togarashi – a Japanese seven-spice mix) but you could use it plain. A mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil, mixed with rice wine vinegar and honey should be poured over the fish.
Can poke be made veggie or vegan?
You can easily substitute cubes of firm tofu or seitan for the raw fish in poke to make it vegan. Just douse it in dressing for the best flavour.
Is poke healthy?
Raw fish contains many Omega-3 oils good for brain function and joints, but go for a smaller portion of brown rice as your base rather than white sushi rice which has a high GI. Hold the mayonnaise and fried onions and use a low salt soy sauce if you are wanting to make this healthier.
How to source the best tuna for your poke bowl
- Buying high quality sushi grade tuna is important as it is consumed raw in poke. Find a reputable fishmonger and ask them for the thickest slice of sustainable sushi-grade tuna (or sashimi-grade) if possible. This isn’t always available in regular supermarkets so it’s worth searching for Japanese specialty stores or fishmongers.
- Alternatively you can order online from https://www.thefreshfishshop.com/collections/sushi or https://www.thefishsociety.co.uk/by-fish-type/raw-fish/sashimi/
- It’s best to buy fresh fish as freezing can alter the texture and flavour of tuna.
- It should smell fresh rather than ‘fishy’ and should have a vibrant colour.
- Avoid tuna steaks with white streaks - this indicates the presence of connective tissue which is chewy to eat. Aim to buy tuna with as little connective tissue as possible, and use a paring knife to remove any before you chop the tuna into smaller pieces.
How long does a poke bowl stay fresh?
It’s best to eat poke on the same day you make it if it contains raw fish. The other elements, the rice, dressing and toppings can be combined with another ingredient the next day if you have leftovers.
Comments, questions and tips