This delicious, super trendy Hawaiian-inspired staple is the perfect dish for any dinner party. If you're new to Poke (pronounced poh - KAY), it's kind of like having deconstructed sushi, with different flavours, textures and colours. In terms of dinner party fare, it's the perfect balance between healthy, filling, casual-yet-stylish and social..... and it couldn't be easier - so no slaving away in the kitchen while your guests have fun without you! The best part is that each guest can personalise their creation - meaning everybody leaves with a full belly and happy heart. So, how do you construct the perfect Poke bowl?
1. Choose your base
Traditionally this is seasoned rice, but you can also use 100% buckwheat soba noodles. I love the flavour and texture of brown rice over white, and it also keeps the nutritional content up. Short grain brown rice (or brown sushi rice) is the best option for Poke. Once cooked, season with a little rice vinegar (about 2 tsp per 1 cup cooked rice) and nori flakes. You can also use white balsamic, which is a little sweeter than rice vinegar, but only use half the amount if you go for this. The rice is generally served warm and the protein/other toppings cold, which means you can pre-prepare all the fish, vegetables and garnishes for the table before everyone arrives and set the cooked rice aside keeping it covered, warm, and ready to serve.
2. Choose your protein
The traditional topping is raw tuna, but I like to give a couple of different options for protein. If you're using raw fish, the most important thing to consider is the quality. Any time you're serving raw fish, it's important to ensure it's sushi grade. Local fish mongers will always give you good guidance here, and different specialty stores will also have a good selection (like the Japan Centre). I usually use tuna, salmon, shrimp, firm tofu and even chicken for the meat eaters. If all else fails and you can't get high quality raw fish, you can even use chopped up smoked salmon or mackerel. There are no rules for poke! As Poke means 'to cut' - the protein should be cut into cubes, which is one of the things that gives poke it's distinctive look, and placed on top of the rice.
3. Choose your sauce/flavours
The basics are sliced spring onion, soy sauce (I use gluten free Tamari), white and/or black sesame seeds and seaweed. Other options include black bean paste, apple cider vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and chilli oil. It's also a good idea to put some lemon wedges on the table in case people want to keep it simple.
4. Choose the fun stuff
One of the great things about poke is the variety of textures, flavours and colours, so offer a selection of toppings for your guests to experiment with.
- Fresh fruit & vegetables: avocado (a must!), bean sprouts, edamame, radish, cherry tomato, carrot, cucumber, coconut (flakes or desiccated), pineapple, red onion, mushrooms, fried shallots are also divine.
- Nuts & seeds: chopped macadamia, peanuts, toasted sesame and pumpkin seeds, toasted cashews.
- Herbs & Spices: gomashiou, mint, coriander, basil, sea salt, black pepper.
- Pickles: pickled ginger, cucumber, mushrooms, radish
5. Then have fun!
I love to give people a few different sized small bowls so that they can get creative, try different combinations and play around with flavours. Enjoy!