Hawaiian Poke

Delicious raw fish salad straight from the islands.


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Until the 1970s, recipes for poke were rare; it was simply something everyone in Hawaii made. Now there are poke cookbooks, including one by Chef Sam Choy of Oahu, Little Hawaiian Poke Cookbook (Mutual Publishing), whose annual Poke Festivals draw thousands of entries from several countries. This version is traditional, except for the omission of ogo, a brownish red seaweed common in Hawaii but hard to find elsewhere. If you have a source, chop about a half cup into one-inch pieces and add to the ahi tuna along with the other ingredients.

24 macadamia nuts, shelled (or 12 kukui nuts, also called candle nuts)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 pounds sashimi-grade ahi tuna, trimmed of any dark flesh and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 green onions, white and green parts, very  thinly sliced
5 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more or less to taste
1⁄2 to 3⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Hawaiian alaea salt, lightly crushed, or  kosher salt
1 tablespoon inamona*

Make the inamona: Preheat oven to 225˚F. Roast the macadamia nuts (or candlenuts) for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer them to a large mortar and crush with a wooden pestle, leaving them somewhat coarse. Add kosher salt and red pepper flakes and stir. Set aside. (You can store the remaining, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.) To assemble the poke: Put the cubed tuna into a medium bowl and add the green onions, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Toss gently, cover and chill for at least 1 hour. To serve, transfer to a chilled bowl. Sprinkle very lightly with salt, scatter the inamona over the poke and serve. Serves 8 to 10. *Also sold in Hawaiian markets.

Wine recommendations: Ahi, especially raw, is rich and fat on the palate; a sparkling wine cleanses the palate with each sip, leaving it refreshed for the next bite. Try a Spanish Cava such as Cristalino NV Brut Cava, Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvee Brut Cava or Iron Horse Vineyards 2005 Brut Rosé. Beer, too, works well, especially a refreshing lager, such as Kona Brewing Company’s Longboard Island Lager.

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