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Hawaiian Poke is the Food Trend You Have to Try

BY: Sarah Gorr | Jan 19, 2018

In early 2016, I flew to Kauai with my fiancé and future in-laws to celebrate our engagement, and aside from the sun and the surf, there was only one thing I was excited for: Hawaiian poke. I love sushi and I love donburi bowls, so the idea of dining on some fresh-as-heck fish over a big mountain of rice sounded like heaven to me. I eventually got my poke, but imagine my surprise when upon my return I discovered that a poke restaurant would be opening just three blocks from my house. Or rather, two poke restaurants would be opening. Suddenly this dish I'd never heard much (if anything) about was everywhere. And according to reports by Eater and Business Insider, the trend shows no sign of slowing down: between 2014 and 2016, the number of poke restaurants nearly doubled.

What is Hawaiian poke?

Basically, poke (pronounced poh-keh) is a dish of fresh-cut, sushi-grade fish marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil and topped with scallions, limu (a type of seaweed), and Maui onions. The relatively simple dish can be found everywhere in Hawaii, from street carts and grocery stores to upscale restaurants. At it's heart, poke is to Hawaii as a deli sandwich is to New York: a quick and easy staple. That doesn't mean all poke bowls are the same, though. Here's a list of some of the most common poke bowl ingredients, though it's by no means exhaustive:

  • Ahi tuna
  • Yellowfin tuna
  • Bluefin tuna
  • Octopus
  • Hamachi
  • Salmon
  • Tofu
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Ponzu sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Spicy mayo
  • Wasabi
  • Seaweed
  • Sesame seeds
  • Candlenuts or macadamia nuts
  • Sweet onions
  • Scallions
  • Hawaiian sea salt
  • Roe
  • Furikake
  • Avocado
  • Edamame
  • Garlic
  • Red pepper flakes

While poke typically includes just one protein, it can involve a number of different sauces and toppings, depending on the flavor combo you're looking for. Just want your traditional Hawaiian poke to have a little extra zip? Throw in some wasabi. Feeling extra hungry? Go absolutely nuts with the toppings!

Why is poke so popular?

Poke's popularity is definitely due in part to its versatility and strong, bold flavors. It's as speedy as a burrito or hamburger, but the combo of fresh fish and interesting marinades makes it feel a lot more decadent. Poke also manages to be filling without leaving diners with the same heavy, overly full feeling that greasy fast food often does.

Now that you know all about the dish, are you ready to try it?

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