Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.
Hawaiian poke entered the scene in a big way about ten years ago. A few years after that Hawaiian restaurants started opening across the country, and soon after poke items appeared on all types of restaurant menus as appetizers and in fast-casual restaurants as bowls.
What is poke, anyway? Pronounced sort of like “pokey” as in “hokey-pokey,” poke is diced raw fish that is seasoned in some way, traditionally simply with just salt and seaweed, but more commonly with Asian sauces and condiments, such as soy sauce and sesame sauce and seeds. You’re more likely to see it served as a poké bowl boasting ingredients such as avocado, mushrooms, crispy onions, pickled jalapeño, cilantro, cucumber, and sauces such as ponzu, soy, and sriracha. The ingredients are arranged in a group rather than mixed together or chopped, creating an eye-catching presentation.
But the star of poke is the fish. You’ll need to shell out for sushi-grade salmon for this recipe, as it is buttery rich and sweet, and easy to dice. Other fish such as ahi tuna and octopus can also be used, but I love the texture of the salmon.
And the bowl? Why it’s the avocado itself! Opt for ripe but not too ripe or mushy avocadoes. If you can’t find black sesame seeds then just use white, but the black seeds are dramatic, giving the dish the “wow” factor. The other ingredients are easily found in supermarkets.
The recipe serves 4 as an appetizer. You can skip the radish and scallion garnishes if you wish, but the presentation will lose its panache.
Prep this right before you are ready to eat as you will serve it immediately before the avocado starts to brown. Then tuck in and enjoy!
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
8 ounces skinless sushi-grade salmon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Asian chili-garlic sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 large just-ripe avocados
1 lemon, halved
Thinly sliced radishes, for garnish
Sliced scallions (green onions), for garnish
Toast the white sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove, then toast the black sesame seeds in the skillet; remove and set aside.
Toss the salmon, onion, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, white sesame seeds, sesame oil, and ginger in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
Halve and pit the avocados, then carefully remove the peel with your fingers. Cut shallow cross-hatch marks into the center of each avocado half (this will make it easier to eat).
Squeeze the lemon over the avocados and season with salt. Sprinkle the cut sides of the avocados with the black sesame seeds, gently pressing to adhere.
Fill the centers of the avocados with the salmon poke and top with sliced radishes and scallions. Serve immediately.