Adapted from Kumar’s recipe
Poké is an Hawaiian dish of seasoned raw fish. By itself it is not a full meal —as I thought about it—I decided to turn mine into a Japanese-Hawaiian fusion as a poké chirashi sushi—scatter sushi. Chirashi sushi is sushi rice with various ingredients scattered over it.
Note: While this recipe was the genesis of my final recipe, I got a bit carried away, for the master poké chirashi sushi recipe, I took small serving of each of the pickles I had made and “scattered” them around my fish and rice—not counting the additional store bought tidbits. It has taken time to write up what turned out to be seven separate new recipes that all ended up on one plate.
I have hesitated to make poké as a main dish, because of the expense of buying enough sushi grade ahi from the local Japanese markets for a good sized serving for each of five people. Another difficulty was finding the right seaweed for Hawaiian poké—ogo, a kind of limu. I found both at my friendly local Hawaiian market—Kumar’s Island Market.
Kumar explained to me that the reason that Japanese sushi grade ahi was so expensive is that it is chilled, but never frozen—which greatly increases the expense of shipping. Kumar’s Island Market carries sushi grade ahi that has been flash frozen on the ship that harvested the tuna. If you have ever seen a video of a Japanese fish market flash freezing tuna for sushi is common practice. Kumar sells his ahi for about $10 a pound. While you have to take care in defrosting the fish, if thawed properly, it is indistinguishable from the pricy ahi at the Japanese markets.
While Kumar no longer sell ogo seaweed on its own, he does carry Noh brand Hawaiian Poke Mix. This small package is a mix of Hawaiian salt, ogo, crushed chilies designed to season one pound of tuna. While this package has a basic recipe, Kumar shared his own recipe with me—he said that the important thing was to use twice as much sesame oil as soy sauce. For one pound of tuna, he uses one package of poke mix, four tablespoons of sesame oil, two tablespoons of soy sauce, one teaspoon of brown sugar, and an additional two packets of the crushed red peppers that you get with your pizza. I did not completely follow Kumar’s recipe, because of my family’s food restrictions—too much oil—but I did follow his rule of 2 oils to one soy sauce.
Note: While the basic poké recipe is limu, sesame oil, soy sauce, Hawaiian salt and dried chilies, many people add additional ingredients to suit their own tastes including: avocado, furikake (mixture of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed), green onions, inamona (roasted crushed candlenut), Japanese mayonnaise, masago (capelin fish roe), Maui onions, wasabi (Japanese horseradish).
2 packages Hawaiian Poke Mix
1. Remove the ogo from the spice mix package and place it in a bowl.
2. Cover the seaweed with warm water and let it soak for 5 minutes.
3. Drain the seaweed well and chop it lightly and place it in a mixing bowl.
Tip: The strands of ogo are fairly long. You want to cut them into smaller threads and break up any clumps, so that they will mix evenly throughout the poké.
4. Cut the ahi into a ½-¾ inch dice and add it to the bowl.
Note: My ahi was flash frozen and came in 3-4 oz. vacuum sealed packages. The instructions were to remove the fish from the plastic before thawing. Two days before I made my poké, I removed the fish from their pouches and placed them in a large glass bowl—lightly covered in plastic wrap that did not touch any of the fish. After 48 hours the tuna was completely thawed and ready to eat.
5. Drizzle or sprinkle the rest of the ingredients over the tuna and gently mix well.
Tip: Be careful not to mash the bits of ahi, while you are mixing in the rest of the ingredients.
6. Let the poké meld for 10 -15 minutes and then serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.