Well, well, well. So you’re jumping in to the hottest new trend in Asian cuisine. Congratulations and welcome!
But like many people throughout the continental United States, you may be asking yourself questions like, “what is this Poke stuff,” or “do I need an app for it,” or even, “didn’t my kids used to play that game when they were young?”
So let’s get the basics out of the way. Poke (pronounced “POH-keh.”) has been all the rage in Hawaii for more than a decade. In fact, it is defined as “to slice” in Hawaiian. What is being cut are cubes of raw fish, which are then topped with certain sauces and toppings, served over a bed of rice.
Essentially, it’s like a deconstructed bowl of sushi.
Pretty simple, huh? Well yeah, but there are certain things that make for good Poke and for GREAT Poke.
First, just like sushi, the freshness of the ingredients is of utmost importance. That doesn’t just mean the fish — although, yeah, that’s the most obvious. But the rice can’t be hard and dry. The toppings can’t be wilted. The sauces can’t be under-hydrated and gloopy.
In essence, your chefs need to care!
Second, variety is important. Not everybody wants to eat raw tuna. Not everybody wants to eat the same style of raw tuna. Some people — get this — don’t even eat tuna at all!
So you need to have a number of options. Cooked crab, tofu, salmon — and many more — all are great additions to any Poke menu.
Beyond just your proteins, the toppings are very important as well. Some options provide texture, such as cucumber and avocado, while others provide additional tastes, like ginger and wasabi.
Lastly, your sauces must meld well with your base, proteins and toppings. It’s not as easy as putting mustard on a hot dog. The sauce or sauces you choose must accentuate the taste and flavors from the other elements without overwhelming.
Just like any Asian-fusion dish, understanding how all the elements work together takes experience, creativity, and care.
As a build-your-own concept, Poke gives you a chance to develop your own flavor and taste profiles. Come once, come often. It’ll be some of the best research you’ve ever taken part in!