Our annual spring break trip to Kauai came and went. As always, it was beautiful, relaxing, and (although it might seem a bit strange) fragrant. One of my favorite things about visiting Hawaii is stepping off the plane and breathing in deeply. The air smells clean and of tropical flowers. I wouldn’t make that up, I promise.
As always, we had fish every day. This year, I decided to finally learn to make Hawaiian poke, which is the Hawaiian version of sushi. Come to find out, it is incredibly simple. Some recipes require many more ingredients, but I found this one to be the most simple and true to the flavors of the poke I have had in Hawaii. And then I gave it a Californian twist.
Some of my Kauai photos can be viewed here. I particularly enjoyed stumbling upon Molooa Bay, aka the place where scenes from the first season of Gilligan’s Island were filmed.
Enjoy! And as always, mahalo for reading!
Hawaiian Poke Salad, California-Style
- 1 lb fresh ahi tuna or tombo tuna
- 1/2 small round sweet onion, julienned (Maui Onions preferred)
- 4 green onions, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 finely garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt (or sub kosher salt)
- Optional: one half of an avocado, cut into cubes
- Optional: black or white sesame seeds for garnish
- Optional: cilantro to garnish
1. Cut the fish into 1/2 inch cubes and put in the fridge.
2. Combine the rest of the ingredients. Allow them to marinate in the fridge for at least half an hour.
3. Cut up the avocado (wait until the end to do this so it does not brown.) Add it to the fish.
4. Combine the ingredients and serve immediately. Make sure to gently stir when combining the fish/avocado with the sauce, so you do not mash the avocado.
5. Top with the sesame seeds, cilantro, and more green onion if desired.
Wine Pairing Advice
I love how easy it is to pair this dish with a beverage. The first time we made this poke, we paired it with a Japanese sake. It was delicious! The fruit in the sake contrasted the spicy and salty flavors of the sauce beautifully.
In regard to wines, you have two options: pair with the flavors of the dish, or pair with the textures. The flavors–salty, spicy–go well with a slightly sweeter wine, like a dry Riesling. In contrast, a dry white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc cut the sharpness of the dish with its acidity.
If pairing with the textures of the dish–soft, sensual–I suggest a more full-bodied wine. An oaked Chardonnay will have a full mouth-feel that mimics the textures in the fish and avocado. However, an unoaked California Chardonnay or a French Burgundy will also have a more full body (in addition to a slight sweetness that cuts the saltiness of the dish AND a slight acidity that cuts the fattiness of the poke, providing a clean finish).
Of course, this dish can also pair well with any light beer.