Hawaiian Tuna Poke


One of Hawaii’s favorite fast foods, ready-made poke is available at most local delis. When we were on Kauai to celebrate my mother-in- law Joan’s seventieth birthday, one of our best meals was not at a fancy restaurant but at a small deli near Kilauea. Built on the grounds of a former infirmary where Joan’s father used to work, this small shop’s seafood counter sold some of the most gorgeous tuna loins I had ever seen—exactly what you want for preparing poke. The word poke comes from the Hawaiian verb meaning “to slice and cut,” which is all you need to do to the tuna to prepare it. For a taste of Hawaii when I’m on the island of Manhattan, I get the freshest tuna I can find and use it as a canvas for a variety of spices and nuts.


1 pound sashimi-grade ahi tuna steaks, cut into ½-inch dice

½ cup soy sauce

4 scallions (green and white parts), thinly sliced

2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, toasted (optional)

Sea salt, to taste

In a large bowl, combine the tuna, soy sauce, scallions, sesame oil, ginger, sesame seeds, and macadamia nuts if using. Gently mix the ingredients, and season with sea salt to taste. Cover the poke with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes before serving.


Tip: Poke is usually served as an appetizer or a side dish. To create a heartier snack, scoop a mound of steamed rice (about ½cup) onto each plate and crown it with an equal amount of poke. For a flourish, finish with a sprinkling of furikake seasoning (seaweed with spices, readily available at Japanese groceries) on top.