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Everything You Need to Know about Hawaiian Poke

September 14th, 2020 Food & Drink
Everything You Need to Know about Hawaiian Poke

Poke bowls have been a cornerstone of Hawaiian eateries for centuries. White rice topped with raw, fresh fish marinated in sesame oil and spices - what’s not to love? The dish is one Hawaiian tradition we’ll never tire of. From its storied history to where to find a piled-up plate of poke goodness, here is everything you need to know about Hawaiian poke.

Due to COVID-19, restaurants mentioned may be closed, operating with a limited menu, or open for takeout only. We recommend checking individual websites for operating hours, updates, and social distancing measures before visiting.

What is Poke

Pronounced ‘poh-kay’, poke means quite literally, to “slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces” in Hawaiian. The versatile dish is traditionally prepared with ahi tuna or he’e (octopus), but can be made with many different types of fish like salmon, shellfish, or even tofu. The fish is marinated in a blend of sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, and other spices, allowing the fresh seafood to absorb the seasonings for maximum flavor.

Packed full of omega 3 fats, protein, healthy fats, and nutrient rich vitamins and minerals, poke bowls can be a nutritional dish. While fish is the principal ingredient, add-ons can get creative. Ingredients like fruit, freshly chopped herbs, and inamona (a traditional Hawaiian condiment made of roasted kukui nuts and sea salt) are often used. Popular modern additions include avocado, pickled ginger to promote gut health, cucumber, mango, and edamame.

History of Poke

So how, when, and where did this quintessentially Hawaiian dish come about? Poke is thought to have been introduced by native Polynesians who would take their freshly caught fish and season it with sea salt, seaweed, and inamona. Once Japanese workers moved to Hawai‘i to harvest sugarcane in the 1800s, Asian flavors were introduced and the poke bowl evolved. It wasn’t until the 1970s when the poke bowl’s popularity exploded and the name “poke” was bestowed to the tasty dish.

How to Order Poke Like a Pro

Freshness and quality of the raw fish in a poke bowl is paramount. In a traditional bowl, the emphasis is on the flavor of the fish. Look for sashimi or sushi-grade cuts that have been marinated for hours to allow the flavors to absorb. Traditional marinades include a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, onion, seaweed, ginger, and spice. The modern poke bowl has expanded to include a wide variety of ingredients, colors, and textures that most likely resemble a sushi or Buddha bowl. Stick to tradition to preserve the poke bowl’s integrity for an authentic Hawaiian culinary experience!

Where to Get Poke in Waikiki

If you are looking forward to tucking into the dish, poke spots around Waikiki are worth their salt (and seaweed). You won’t be at a loss to find poke around the island - it can be found in supermarkets, on-the-go, in food courts, and restaurants. Tiki’s Grill & Bar at Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel offers Hawaiian Ahi Poke with raw yellowfin tuna and inamona, Ahi Poke Bowl topped with fresh avocado and pipikaula (a Hawaiian dish of salted and dried beef), or a Prime Rib Poke, sans fish, with seared prime rib cubes. Tiki’s also has nightly live music from local musicians and lanai seating with beautiful sunset views of Kuhio Beach.

The Honolulu food and drink scene is just as dynamic as it is colorful. Know where to look for island favorites such as poke, spam musubi, bento boxes, and cocktails across Waikiki when you read about Hawai‘i food and drink on our Blog. Stay longer and enjoy extended discounts with our Escape to Hawai‘i offer and save up to 30% off our standard rates. Read more about the exclusive offers only available on our website and start booking your travel plans with Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel in Waikiki.

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