food hawaii


Poke Recipes – the Joy of the Hawaiian Appetizer

Poke platter
Yum, but that’s only enough poke to get me started. Where’s the rest?

The Joy of the Hawaiian Appetizer

World-renowned Island chef Sam Choy calls it “Hawaii’s soul food.” Local residents insist a party wouldn’t be a party without it. And seafood lovers around the world are adopting it as their own, experimenting with native ingredients to create new and delightfully unique versions. There’s even a world-class festival each September to celebrate it.

“It” is poke, and its popularity is as wild as its many flavors.

Poke (pronounced “po-keh”) means “to slice or cut.” As a food dish served as an appetizer or snack, it usually consists of bite-sized pieces of raw, fresh fish mixed with seaweed and kukui nut relish. Today’s poke aficionados, however, incorporate a wide range of ingredients, including all types of seafood (everything from swordfish and snapper to octopus and lobster), herbs, spices, nuts, marinades, fruits, vegetables, seasonings, and even tofu.

The popularity of poke in Hawaii can be traced to Sam Choy himself. The enterprising master chef started the Sam Choy Poke Festival in 1992 on the island of Hawaii. In the beginning, the event simply consisted of a poke recipe contest, but the festival has since grown to include cooking classes, tastings, and even a golf tournament.

The poke recipe contest, however, is still the main event. Staged at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, the contest offers more than $15,000 in cash and prizes. There are separate divisions for professional chefs and amateur cooks, and each contestant is required to prepare six pounds of their recipe for tasting.

In 1999, Choy authored a hardcover cookbook, Sam Choy’s Poke, that features past winning recipes as well as his own savory creations.

Here’s a poke recipe that you may want to try. Choy presented it on ABC’s “Good Morning America” with Chef Emeril Lagasse. All you need to do its combine the ingredients, mix well and then chill.

Poke Recipes

Chef Alan Wong’s Poke Recipe

Alan shows us how to make one of his favorite poke recipes. Video by World Wide Ed

Sam Choy ABC’s “Good Morning America” Recipe

1-1/4 pounds fresh ahi, cubed into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup yellow onion, minced
1/4 cup green onion, minced
3 Tbsp. limu kohou (a reddish-brown Seawood)
1 Tbsp. inamona (ground innards from roasted kukui nuts)
2 tsp. Sesame oil

Combine in mixing bowl; add dry ingredients and chill.

Sam Choy’s Award-Winning Poke Recipe

And this is another of Sam Choy’s award-winning poke recipes

2 lbs. Ahi Tuna, cubed into 1/2 to 3/4 inch squares
3 oz. Chopped Green onion
3 oz. Diced Onion
2 oz. Chopped Ogo (fresh seaweed)
1 tsp. Red Chili Flakes
2 tbs. Soy Sauce
2 tbs. Sesame oil
Hawaiian salt to taste

Secret Ingredient: Kukui nut

Combine in mixing bowl; add dry ingredients and chill.