If you deconstructed a salmon sushi roll, carefully transferred it to a bowl and dressed it up with some soy-based dressing, you'd have a meal that (with all due respect to Spam) might be the dish Hawaii should be best known for. That may be oversimplifying it, but a version of the South Pacific raw-seafood salad known as poké (pronounced POH-kay) has hit the mainland, and we've fallen hard for it.

Traditionally sold at roadside snack bars and eaten under the shade of a palm tree, poké can include seaweed, onions, avocado, spicy mayo or avocado—though the one thing you'll find in every poké is diced, raw fish, usually tuna or salmon. As the dish makes its way from the Pacific and across the U.S., it's popping up on menus in Hawaiian restaurants and dedicated poké spots. But for now, it's easiest to find in New York City and Los Angeles at the moment. There's still good news for all of us, though: making poké bowls at home isn't complicated.

We're seeing poké served in bowls that consist of cooked rice (or even quinoa, as Gwyneth Paltrow does in her new book It's All Easy); cubes of sushi-quality fish; fresh vegetables and herbs; and, some sort of soy-based sauce. In fact, it barely requires any cooking, aside from steaming some rice (or quinoa). We talked to chef Rodman Machado, executive chef at Aqua Kauai Beach Resort on Kauai's eastern shore, for a few recommendations.

Chef Machado's versions of poké are made with ingredients that are easy to find, even if you're 5,000 miles from Honolulu. He suggests mixing and matching these ingredients to build your own poké, using one protein, any number of vegetables and dry ingredients and a sauce. You can't really go wrong with whatever you choose.

  • Fresh crab or imitation crab meat, flaked
  • Tofu, cut into 1-inch dice
  • Beef, seared over high heat, about 1 minute per side, cut into 1-inch dice after resting for 10 minutes
  • Raw sushi-grade halibut, tuna, salmon or octopus, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Scallops or calamari, sautéed in oil or butter for 2 minutes then chilled

    Fresh vegetables
  • Diced avocado
  • Sliced scallions, or other onions
  • Chopped tomatoes

    Dry ingredients
  • Sesame seeds
  • Wasabi powder
  • Dried chili flakes, or powder
  • Seaweed, such as hijiki, wakame or kombu
  • Flaky sea salt, or rock salt

  • Soy sauce
  • Sambal chili paste (available at most major supermarkets)
  • Toasted sesame oil

    Next Story