Wednesday 21 March 2018

Pick up a poké - contemporary Hawaiian recipes

Join the poké party - beautiful bowlfuls of raw fish (optional!), rice and salad, Hawaiian-style... perfect for eating on the go

Ahi poke. Extracted from Poke by Celia Farrar and Guy Jackson (Hardie Grant, £12.99) Photography © Matt Russell
Ahi poke. Extracted from Poke by Celia Farrar and Guy Jackson (Hardie Grant, £12.99) Photography © Matt Russell
Mackerel poke. Photography © Matt Russell
Tempeh poke. Photography © Matt Russell
Salmon poke. Photography © Matt Russell

We may not have had 'luau' weather so far this summer but that hasn't stopped Irish people from embracing another Hawaiian export: poké. Pronounced poh-kay - and meaning 'to cut' - the traditional dish involves chunks of fresh fish combined with seaweed, rice and other salad ingredients. Small wonder, then, that as a fellow island nation, we've taken a shine to this nutritious dish - as evidenced by poké bowls popping up on menus across the country, and even a dedicated poké café opening in Dublin.

Now you can try the on-trend dish at home with these recipes from Celia Farrar and Guy Jackson, the owners of London restaurant Eat Poké.

Ahi (tuna) Poké Hawaiian-Style

Our homage to a contemporary Hawaiian-style poké, traditionally served with limu kohu (seaweed) and Hawaiian salt. We've tried to create a similar version with variations on these classic ingredients. Hopefully the taste will transport you to the islands!

Serves 4


For the base: 240g white sushi rice

For the poké: 400g fresh yellowfin tuna, cut into 1.5cm (½ in) cubes

2 tbsp sliced maui or sweet white onion

4 tbsp spring onions, just the green tops, finely sliced

½ tsp toasted white sesame seeds

½ tsp toasted black sesame seeds

1 tsp alaea or Hawaiian sea salt (sea salt or Himalayan salt are good alternatives)

For the marinade:

4 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 tbsp tamari soy sauce

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1 tsp black sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1 tsp white sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Pinch of sugar


Cook the rice as per the cooking instructions and leave to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the tuna, white onion, half of the spring onions, half of the black and white sesame seeds, and the salt.

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl, add to the tuna and thoroughly combine. Serve immediately or leave to marinate for up to 1 hour.

Once ready to serve, spoon the cooked rice into 4 bowls and top with the fish and marinade. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds and spring onions loosely over the top of the dish. Try pimping up your bowls with beetroot pickled baby corn, lotus root crisps and a few edible violet flowers.

Beetroot Pickled Baby Corn

The beetroot in this pickling liquid turns the baby corn a vibrant shade of pink that has often led people to mistake them for flowers or raspberries.

Makes enough to use in up to 15 bowls


190g baby corn, thinly sliced into rounds

For the beetroot pickling liquor: 2 large raw beetroot, peeled and sliced

250ml water

25ml rice wine vinegar

3 tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt


Place the baby corn in a sterilised glass jar. Put all the pickling liquor ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, then allow to cool.

Once cooled, remove the sliced beetroot and pour the liquor over the baby corn. Leave for 24 hours in the fridge to allow the corn to absorb the beetroot colour. The pickles will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Mackerel Poké with Ginger and Chive Pesto

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Mackerel poke. Photography © Matt Russell

The spicy ginger and chive pesto cuts through the rich, oily mackerel a treat here. This pesto would work equally well with other oily fish and also stirred through cooked grains or popped on top of fatty pork belly.

Serves 4


For the pickles:

60ml rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

Pinch of sea salt flakes

1 bunch of radishes, stalks and leaves removed, finely sliced

For the base:

240g short-grain brown rice

For the pesto:

4 tbsp finely crushed fresh ginger

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

3 tbsp mirin

4 tbsp thinly sliced fresh chives

10g finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Pinch of sea salt flakes

For the poké:

4 fresh mackerel fillets, cut down the middle to remove the line of thin, spiny bones

2 tsp toasted sesame oil


Begin by making the pickles. Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the radish. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Cook the rice as per the cooking instructions; leave to cool.

For the pesto, sweat the ginger in a saucepan over a low heat with the vinegar and mirin for 25-30 minutes (until the liquid has mostly evaporated). Cool. Stir through the chives and coriander and season with the salt.

Take the mackerel and carefully remove the thin, tough membrane that covers the patterned skin, then slice the fish into 1.5cm (ƒ in) cubes. Combine with the sesame oil.

To assemble, spoon the cooled rice into bowls and place the mackerel poké on top with the pesto and pickled radishes. Try pimping with coriander cress and pickled cucumbers and garnish with an edible flower.

Spicy Tempeh Poké with Beetroot and Quinoa

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Tempeh poke. Photography © Matt Russell

This vegan poké is such a colourful and vibrant dish, full of fresh vegetables and subtle spice, and packed with protein.

Serves 4


For the poké: 350g tempeh, cut into 2cm (3qtr in) cubes

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp chilli powder

Zest of 2 lemons

For the salad:

100g quinoa

2 beetroot, cooked and cut into 1 cm (½ in) cubes

100g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 handfuls of spinach, torn

2 carrots, peeled and julienned

2 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted

2 roasted red peppers, cut into 5mm (¼ in) cubes

For the dressing:

1 tbsp Tabasco

200ml olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

2 tsp mirin

2 tsp soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 shallots, finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. For the poké, toss together the tempeh, spices and lemon zest. Arrange the coated tempeh on a lightly oiled baking tray and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

To make the salad, rinse the quinoa in cold water. Transfer to a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The grains will swell but should still have a little bite. Once cooked, drain well and place in a bowl to cool. Add the remaining salad ingredients to the quinoa. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss gently to combine.

To serve, divide the salad among 4 plates and scatter the roasted tempeh over the top.

How to build your Poké

Poké is a relaxed, laid-back style of food, so follow this spirit and don't be afraid to freestyle and find your own way - mixing pimps, salads or even fish. A few things to remember: the fish is the star of the show, so source it carefully and be generous. Choose a wide bowl, pile it high and get stuck in!

1. Base

If you want a base, then white rice would be the most traditional option. However, we prefer brown or black rice for its awesome taste and texture, along with its extra health benefits. Not all of our recipes call for rice - you can use all sorts of grains, noodles or vegetables. Give it a go and find your favourite.

2. Salad

We love the extra freshness you get from a seasonal salad. It adds flavour, colour and crunch to the dish. For us, salads are a key part of our poké. They allow us to be more inventive and playful.

3. Protein

The main show! The best bit, some say. We use a variety of fish from the island, from classic ahi (tuna) to scallops. The fresher, the better. We also have a number of vegan and vegetarian alternatives to suit all.

4. Marinade

This is what helps differentiate poké from sushi or sashimi. Generally, in most modern and traditional poké recipes, the fish is marinated. This helps to add depth and flavour to the fish.

5. Pimps

A pimp has many connotations, but for us it is the glorious extras that add a new dimension to your poké. These are not always necessary but are worth the effort.

6. Toppings and seasoning

The cherry on top! Toppings and seasonings are the fancy bits. Our favourites without a doubt are furikake - these add extra depth, crunch and flavour, and they also look beautiful.

Salmon Poké with Ponzu Kale

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Salmon poke. Photography © Matt Russell

We love a citrus marinade for oilier fish such as salmon. This ponzu kale was one of the first recipes we trialled on the markets and it quickly became a favourite.

Serves 4


For the base:

240g short-grain black rice

For the poké:

300g fresh salmon, cut into 1 cm (½ inch) cubes

3 tbsp Shoyu Marinade (see below)

For the salad:

4 generous handfuls of kale, tough stems removed, leaves torn

Drizzle of light olive oil

2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh coriander leaves

60g shelled edamame beans, (cooked according to the packet instructions)

2 tsp toasted white sesame seeds

For the Ponzu Dressing (will make more then needed): 120ml tamari soy sauce

60ml rice wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of ½ orange

1 tsp bottled yuzu juice

For the garnish: 1 tbsp chopped toasted macadamia nuts

Spring onions, finely sliced

Nori Furikake (see below)


Cook the rice as per the cooking instructions and leave to cool. Toss the fish in the Shoyu Marinade to lightly coat. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. For the salad, massage the kale with a little oil until tender, then toss with the coriander, edamame and sesame seeds. Mix together the ponzu dressing ingredients and spoon over the salad. Pile the rice into 4 bowls, then top with the kale and fish. Sprinkle with the toasted nuts, spring onions and furikake.

Shoyu Marinade

This is our go-to marinade for seasoning most kinds of poké. Look for traditionally brewed soy sauce, or shoyu, for a more complex and rounded flavour profile. We also like to use tamari as a gluten-free option.

Makes enough to marinate 1-1.5 kg poké


125ml traditionally brewed soy sauce

2 tbsp water

1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil


Whisk together all the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust the sweetness if necessary. Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge. This will keep for up to 3 days.

Nori Furikake

This is our take on a classic sesame seed furikake, always on hand to sprinkle over rice, fish, salads or anything that needs a bit of a flavour kick.

Makes about 300g


125g white sesame seeds, toasted

125g black sesame seeds, toasted

2 tbsp kizami nori (shredded nori)

1 tsp togarashi powder

Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of sugar


Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.

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