What is Poke?

A popular raw fish salad that is served as a Hawaiian appetizer is called Poke. This term is a Hawaiian verb used for the word “section” or “slicing or cutting.” When making this dish in a traditional way, ahi, aku or any kind of oily tuna is used. The most popular variation of this ahi poke is made using yellowfin tuna. There are various adaptations of this dish using raw salmon and different shellfish as the main ingredient and is also served raw and mixed with the common seasonings used for traditional poke recipe.

This dish was first made by fishermen who seasoned some of the cut-offs of their catch and would serve it as their snack. The traditional seasoning used with the dish is heavily influenced by other Asian cuisines like Japanese cuisine. Its seasoning usually includes a mixture of green onions, sesame oil and soy sauce. Other seasonings include furikake or a combination of dried seaweed, dried fish and sesame seeds, chopped fresh or dried chili pepper, sea salt, limu or seaweed, fish eggs and a lot more.

The traditional way of preparing this dish consists of the fish being gutted skinned and carefully deboned. This is then sliced across its backbone to get the fillet and is served with some traditional condiments like candlenut, limu, sea salt and seaweed.

According to a food historian, poke started to gain popularity in the 1970s and was then served with soy sauce and wasabi. Though this was noted as the early method of preparing the dish and variations are served in different restaurants, there are still places within the Hawaiian islands serving poke this way.

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