ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Food and Cooking»
  • World Cuisines»
  • Oceania Cuisine

The Best Hawaiian Appetizer

Updated on November 9, 2009

My favorite Hawaiian staple - poke

I'm not sure if they still do, but less than a handful of years ago, our boys thought their dad was famous since he's been on TV. While we were still residing on the Big Island of Hawaii, my husband won Sam Choy's annual Poke Recipe Contest (held at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel). He was asked afterward to come on Sam's televised cooking show to prepare it live. Of course we have a recording of the show (but it's on VHS! It's been 7 years I think since he won that contest!).

For those of you who don't know what 'poke' is (pronounced 'Pokeh'), it's a 'pupu' (Hawaiian word for appetizer - readers will receive a little culture lesson with this hub!).  The main ingredient typically is a type of seafood. In this example, I will share about one of the most simple, common and popular poke concoctions - Ahi poke.  Raw Ahi (yellow fin tuna) is cubed and mixed with shoyu (soy sauce), onion (green, white/yellow or better yet, 'Maui' or a combination of a little green and one of the others), a couple drops of sesame oil, and a pinch of Hawaiian salt. Some like to add 'inamona' (kukui nut - my personal favorite addition) ogo (seaweed), chili pepper, and Thomas (my hubby) occasionally even likes to add diced tomatoes.

I know, some people when they think raw fish think, "eeewwww!" The liquids marinade the flesh and with the flavors from the additional ingredients, its' really 'ono' (so good!).

Too bad I don't have a picture saved here on my PC of my Thomas' winning creation, which included a glorious presentation. It wasn't as simple as the basic ingredients above. He served it on fried won-tons with some fresh julieanned vegetable and green concoction accompanied by glazes and drizzles. The poke was called, "Close Your Eyes - Surprise!" w/ many bursts of flavors and textures.

I could eat poke almost every day. Even though in Washington now, we are able to make and enjoy it now and then. If you've never tried poke, I encourage you to do so. The ingredients are not something we see here on the mainland everyday; in fact, if you go to any of the Hawaiian islands, you can get poke in the deli section of the grocery store. If you don't have plans to be there anytime soon, yet you eat at Japanese restaurants where sushi and sashimi are served, nine times out of ten, I bet they know what poke is and would be glad to make some for you (if they don't already offer it). Of course it won't be as good as my me biased, but it's the truth!


Submit a Comment

  • TattooKitty profile image

    TattooKitty 6 years ago from Hawaii

    Ho'cuz, gota try da new California roll poke- da buggah is ONO!!!

    P.S. Cherry, eh yoa hub ;)

  • heart4theword profile image

    heart4theword 7 years ago from hub

    Have never tried raw fish, am scared to try it:) Just doesn't sound good to me? Yet, I know lots of people like yourself and your hubby, who love it. I guess I'm chicken! Pretty cool, about his award and television appearance:) In your children's eyes, star for a day, hey:) Great Share!

  • christinekv profile image

    christinekv 9 years ago from Washington

    Thanks Stylezink for visiting and commenting....yes, spam musbui is something my husband still makes for our boys since we've moved from Hawaii to Washington. I'm not a spam eater either but I do love sushi and I do enjoy chicken katsu musubi!

  • stylezink profile image

    stylezink 9 years ago from Atlanta, GA.

    I like your hub here. I'm not a fish eater but my family is and they'll probably want to try it. I love your use of the Hawaiian words. I did some time in Hawaii myself as a teen. I'd have to say one of my favorite treats was spam musubi. You ever heard of that one? It was like a huge spam sushi, lol. Again that was when I was a teen, I don't do spam anymore. Ha!

  • christinekv profile image

    christinekv 9 years ago from Washington

    oops, I wasn't clear in my last post that opaka paka and onaga are red and pink snapper.....guess it was too early in the morning...sorry... my comment gives the impression I was pretty scattered!

  • christinekv profile image

    christinekv 9 years ago from Washington

    Hi Rob -

    Thanks for visiting and commenting. One of these days you'll have to get together with your buddy who enjoys poke or sashimi (and some sushi has raw fish, but much of it is not raw) and give it a try.

    No fresh fish in the midwest??? I find that rather sad! What about fresh water? I miss the fish that was common (and fresh in contrast to frozen) back in the islands, (and it wasn't inexpensively offered there either). Although I like salmon, cod, halibut which is common here, not as much as the selection one has access to there. In addition to my appreciation and cravings for varied preparations of Ahi, Mahi Mahi was my favorite, followed by Opaka paka or Onaga (varieties of - can get those here too but not as good). Opah or "Moonfish," is another one that is excellent...remember one of my favorite preparations of it included it having a Pistachio nut crust.....

    Think it must be time for breakfast!

  • Rob Jundt profile image

    Rob Jundt 9 years ago from Midwest USA

    One of these days I'll give the raw fish a try. I have a good friend who swears by it. I guess I'm a little cautious living here in the Midwest so far removed from fresh fish. Your recipe does sound appetizing.

  • christinekv profile image

    christinekv 9 years ago from Washington

    Hey David -

    Ha ha! After I said that, I thought to myself "there I go stereotyping those NY'ers and Jerseyites again..."

    Does NY have any Hawaiian restaurants? If not, try a Japanese. If you can't get the poke, you should be able to get there ahi sashimi with some soy and wasabi (Japanese horseradish). Sashimi may not be unfamiliar? Another variation or excellent way to eat fresh ahi is seared w/ black peppercorn (rare in the middle).

    Even though Poke is made from other types of raw fish or seafood, the ahi tuna is the most popular... poke is not even close to tasting anything like a tuna salad sandwich. If you haven't already, click on the link on the hub and it shows you a picture of what basic ahi poke looks like.

  • 516Ads profile image

    516Ads 9 years ago from Long Island

    Chris ... excellent guess with the Philly Cheese Steak ... I went through a period where I ate one every day for about a year. Place was downstairs from NYC office .... couldn't resist ... before that it was Chinese food for a year. Once I like something I guess I stick with it .... where in NYC can I get Poke, I'm getting tired of tuna fish :)

  • christinekv profile image

    christinekv 9 years ago from Washington

    So David, what did you find to eat? I visualize you eating a big philly steak or meatball sandwich!

    "Big Henery" is quite the dork (said w/ affection)....says he rushed and laughed through this comment he posted from his PC at work. He thought he could fake me out - he often can but not this time!

  • profile image

    Big Henery 9 years ago

    I heard of your husband before and think he is the BEST. I wish he could make me some POKE right now!. The girl I know who saw him on TV said he was cute.

  • 516Ads profile image

    516Ads 9 years ago from Long Island


    I was getting ready to HUB, but your HUB made me really hungry. See ya, I have to get something to eat :) - David