Spelled like Poke in English, but pronounced POH – KAY in Hawaiian. Poke in Hawaiian means to section or cut off. Poke is cubes of fish seasoned with different things and marinated in a sauce. In Hawaii, Poke is oftentimes a Pupu, which means appetizer in Hawaiian. Pupu is served during happy hour while drinking a beer with friends or on the side served with Laulau or Kalua pork plates. Poke today is not only served as a Pupu but also the main dish and is a staple to Hawaiian cuisine. You will find Poke served in a bowl over a bed of rice which is called a “Poke Bowl” which is eaten as a meal.
The traditional poke recipe started with fishermen using scraps of fish to serve as a snack. Fish is gutted, skinned, and deboned right on the boat. The fresh fish is cubed and marinated in different sauces and spices.
There are several different types of fish used for Poke such as Ahi (Yellowfin tuna) and Aku (Skipjack tuna). Other types of seafood used are He’e (octopus), seaweed, and crab. All types of seafood can be marinated and seasoned differently. There are many different types of ingredients mixed in such as Maui onions, sesame oil, or topped with green onion. The two popular ingredients in Poke are Inamona, which comes from the Kukui Nut tree, and the Ogo Limu, which is a Hawaiian Seaweed.
Poke recipes have changed so much over the years and have had many influences on Asian cuisines. Poke can be found in any local market in Hawaii and there are a variety of local eateries that offer it as well. Don’t be afraid to eat outside of your norm and try a fresh poke bowl the next time you’re in Hawaii. The buggah broke da mouth! – which means it is very delicious in the local pigeon language.