Hawaiian Poke Bowls

Poke bowls have been having a moment but seem to be here to stay.

The dish was born around 40 years ago by fisherman in Hawai'i who were hungry and using what they had on hand... raw fish. Originally poke wasn't served over rice or salad as is typical today but similar to a tartare, seasoned marinaded raw fish cut from the bone and doused in soy, chopped onion, seaweed and sometimes candlenut - a very versatile, mild but nutty nut used in many parts of Asia that I struggle to find stateside.

These days and on the "mainland" we treat poke quit a bit differently, but generally the same. Poke gets served over rice, white or brown, it's sometimes served over salad, or a bit of both. The toppings are kind of open to your hearts desires. Edamame, cucumbers, chopped onion, scallion, carrots, ginger, seaweed, crunchy onions, masago, nuts and on and on and on.

Traditionally the fish is marinaded for a time, the sauces you get at fast-casual restaurants these days are usually added as you order since everything personalized to your tastes. I let this marinade about an hour, since, I'm making it so it's obviously all my personal tastes anyway! Sauces are usually just a bit of soy, shiso, sometimes citrusy ponzu. Here I used two kinds of soy, both light and dark and added a bit of white miso. If you don't have both light and dark soy - the reason the bright tuna took on a deeper color - use just regular soy. Dark soy is just a bit sweeter than typical, you can balance this with a bit of sugar or forget it, I won't blame you. I happen to have at least three kinds of soy in my pantry at all times so don't fret if you don't happen to have these on hand. I did both sauces to wonderful success.

Most important to this recipe is the FISH. I know, obvious right? Ahi tuna is the most popular type of fish people use in poke bowls and it's pretty lean so if you'd like something fattier, grab a nice thick cut salmon*. Be sure to grab this from a place that sells extremely fresh fish or sushi grade fish. A lot of Asian markets will have sushi grade, but ask if you're not sure. Talk to your fishmonger about freshness and make the poke within a 24 hours of buying it and no longer.

Start by preparing your surfaces, with raw fish make sure your knifes and cutting surfaces are clean and sharp. Cut fish with the grain and then against, to form nice cubes. Prep all the toppings you're planning to use so they're ready to go once the fish has marinaded.

*Important: if you're using any fish other than tuna, you should ask your fishmonger if it was frozen first. All sushi grade fish in the US is required by law to be frozen first to kill bacteria. If you're going with freshness you should still toss your fish in the freezer. Wrap your fish in saran wrap and then in aluminum foil (to prevent freezer burn) until frozen and then let fish thaw in the fridge until use.

1lb sushi-grade Ahi tuna
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark sweet soy sauce
1 tsp white miso
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp white vinegar

Sliced scallion
Ribboned carrots
Picked ginger
Roasted seaweed
Sliced cucumber
Sesame seeds

In a bowl large enough for your fish, white miso and soy sauce, whisk until the miso is blended in. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Chop fish into cubes, about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch and stir gently to mix well. Let marinade for 30 minutes. While marinading make rice.

Assemble bowls, using warm rice or salad as the base. And place your toppings around the bowl in a way that makes you happy, that's the best part!

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