Poke Poke

Here’s a poke to wake up to poke (poh-kay), the delicious raw fish trend that you should be paying attention to. Hot hot hot right now is a classic dish from Hawaii of cold fish. Poke in Hawaiian means to cut or slice. It is traditionally marinated in sesame oil and soy sauce and served in a bowl.  What’s not to like? Poke spots are popping up all over the place, so here’s what you should know:

  1. It’s a fantastic sushi alternative. If you love sushi, you’ll love poke. It’s that simple. The same ingredients and players are found in poke that you find in your regular Japanese order: scallions, avocado, chilis, furikake, masago, wasabi and all the like are found in a brilliant serving of poke. Instead of feasting on pieces that are manicured and assembled, a poke bowl is more casual, served almost like a salad.
  2. You can customize the heck out of it. The poke trend functions similar to the salad line you’re so familiar with. Choose a base of white rice, brown rice, (skip the starch base if your watching your waistline) or kale or greens (a healthier foundation). Top the next layer with your favorite catch of tuna, salmon, albacore or catch of the day (some of the spots even offer a tofu option for the vegans out there). Sauces are optional and range from shoyu to coconut sauced, spicy aiolis to gingery dashi and everything in between. Steer clear of the mayo-based and sweeter sauces, because they’re less healthful, but for the most part good poke is not overly saucy. Top your creation with the usual players of daikon, edamame, cucumbers, seaweed, pickled ginger and radishes. The toppings are endless and healthy choices abound!
  3. With know how, you can feel safe about it. There is no question that food safety is paramount when we’re talking about raw fish. Choose a poke spot that advertises the use of fresh fish, has a lot of turnover (you don’t want your fish sitting out for hours), is maintained in a refrigerated shallow tray and appears clean and well kept. Eating raw and undercooked foods always poses a risk (that’s why they post the disclaimer), so if it seems questionable or smells ‘fishy’ you should probably pass.

Bonus, LMN dietitian Stacia’s Famous Poke recipe is here.

Pass the chopsticks! Use them. They’ll slow you down and give you time to really appreciate the flavors, textures and creativity of your bowl. Happy poke eating!