Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl

Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl

Poke (pronounced poh-kay) literally means to slice crosswise into pieces. Effectively, to cube. And its origins are every bit as humble as that name implies (at least compared to the profusion of variations now available).

The first poke was eaten simply as a means of quickly making up something delicious with freshly caught reef fish. Back in pre-contact times, the natives would cube the fish and flavor it with sea salt, various seaweeds, and kukui nuts (also called candlenut). This type of poke is still sometimes available, but there are many new variations which are more popular in Hawaii and elsewhere.

Another interesting thing to note about the history of poke is that while nowadays, particularly on the mainland, poke is typically made from high-quality cuts of expensive fish like ahi tuna, and is usually served atop rice with lots of accoutrements as a standalone meal, that was not always the case. Historically, poke was made primarily from less desirable fish, such as skipjack, was served primarily as a pupu (appetizer), and was a means to use up the less valuable trimmings from fish. Poke was not always the luxury meal that it is today.

Poke has evolved a great deal through time, and much of this has to do with the introduction of new flavors to the islands. As immigrants came over from Asia, they brought with them many new ingredients to play with. As with much of Hawaiian food, these new flavors were seamlessly integrated into the local cuisine with incredible results. The recipe below features some of those ingredients and has become of the more popular varieties of poke: ahi shoyu. Made with ahi tuna dressed with soy sauce, sesame oil, and a variety of other flavors, it is a real crowd pleaser.

This recipe also counteracts what is, for me, often the greatest shortcoming of the poke bowl: the bed of rice underneath. On top you have this beautiful melange of flavors, but then you get to the bottom and it is just plain rice. By replacing that boring rice with seasoned sushi rice, every bite of your poke bowl becomes delicious.

My other suggestion is that you chop all your ingredients into cubes. In the pictures here I used some slices because they look nice, but I think that poke eats the best when all the components are in similarly-sized cubes. Avocado and cucumber both chop into nice cubes and are a perfect accompaniment to the marinated tuna.


Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl


Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl
Serves 4

1 lb. sushi-grade tuna, cut into 1” cubes
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp grated ginger
2 scallions, white parts only, sliced thin

Sushi rice:
2 cups short or medium grained japanese rice
2 cups water
½ cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar

1 cup cucumber, seeded and sliced into ½” cubes
1 cup firm avocado, sliced into ½” cubes
2 scallions, green part only, sliced thinly
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
½ cup sriracha mayonnaise (mix ¼ cup sriracha with ¼ cup mayonnaise)

Poke: the poke should be made first and allowed to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Start by whisking together the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar, ginger, and scallions. Slice your fish into 1” cubes and add to the bowl. Mix it well and place in the fridge to marinate. That’s all there is to it.

Sushi rice:
Sushi rice has a firm bite and is seasoned beautifully with salt, sugar, and vinegar. Begin by adding the 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water to a saucepan with a lid. Over medium heat, bring this to a boil.

When the rice reaches a boil (you can take a quick peek to check, but try not to let out too much steam), reduce the heat to a low simmer for 10 minutes.

After the rice has simmered for 10 minutes, remove it from heat and keep covered. Allow the rice to steam for another 10 minutes.

While the rice is steaming, mix together your rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl large enough to accommodate the rice as well. At the end of those 10 minutes of steaming, you should have perfect, firm rice. At this point you want to put the rice into the mixing bowl and mix it all together to ensure that all of the rice receives good seasoning. Then leave the rice on the counter to cool.

Bowl Assembly:
Divide the rice evenly into 4 bowls, creating a nice layer at the bottom.

Mix the cubed cucumber and avocado into the tuna poke, and divide this evenly atop the bed of sushi rice.

Give the bowls a nice squirt of sriracha mayonnaise and sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds and scallion greens. And then dig in.



Related Recipes:

Spam Musubi

The Plate Lunch – Huli Huli Chicken and Hawaiian Mac Salad

Loco Moco

Leave a Reply