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The necessity of poke in Hawaii




We locals love our poke. It’s one of those foods that are perfect as a TV snack for Superbowl Sunday or as an elegant appetizer in a fancy hotel. Whatever the occasion, you cannot go wrong with poke and bringing this to a party or to someone’s house will always be appreciated and gone before the day ends. Plus, with so many varieties and recipes available at most grocery stores, you’ll never run into the situation where you’ll get tired of it (how is that even possible?)

The main ingredient for fresh poke.

Fresh fish | Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

When locals say “poke,” we’re usually referring to ahi (tuna) poke, which is the standard fish for your basic recipe. But if you head to a grocer with a dedicated poke section, you’ll see a selection ranging from tako (octopus) to crabs to shrimp and everything in between. There are also plenty of flavors such as garlic or spicy if you’re looking for a little more oomph!

Poke in a laulau plate lunch.

Hawaiian plate lunch | Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

Fancy poke bowl.

Fancy poke bowl | Courtesy of Bigstock

While the local grocery store may get the most customers for hungry visitors, it isn’t the only place for fresh fish lovers. You’ll find poke in Hawaiian plate lunches as a side dish and there are several small restaurants that sell “poke bowls” which feature favorite combinations on top of rice. Even a few local sushi restaurants have expanded their menu to include poke bowls in order to appeal to a wider customer base. Poke bowls are also often sold at those same local grocery stores so if you’re too lazy to cook rice, just head over to the fresh fish department to get your dinner to go.

Poke and side dish galore at your local grocery in Hawaii.

Poke and side dish galore | Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

Ordering is based on weight, which can get confusing if you’re not familiar with how much fresh fish people eat. In general, if I’m going to bring poke to someone’s house, I’ll usually buy 3 different half-pound containers. Most grocery stores will also offer one-pound containers so if you want to bring a larger serving for more people, the one-pound container may be the way to go. Poke is not a main meal and is just a side dish that is meant to add flavor to your rice (but some of us don’t always follow that rule), so it’s okay to bring just a few containers to a party.

Your basic ahi poke.

Simple ahi poke | Courtesy of Bigstock

Poke is also extremely easy to make. I first started making it on the mainland as a college student and with a basic recipe, it was ready to eat in 10 minutes and probably gone in 5. The main ingredients for the sauce is shoyu and sesame seed oil, which you can find at almost any grocery store even on the mainland. I’m thinking it might be time to get a poke recipe posted on Aunty Sandy’s Kitchen for you all so stay tuned for that!

My Recommendation

Lanai Tabura (winner of several food awards) has an awesome Aloha Plate Food Tour that will take you on a culinary trip that includes poke! Definitely try this guy out because you’ll get a chance to eat all types of foods that we locals go crazy for.

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