Poke’s origins have been traced back to the pre-contact times when the ancient Hawaiians ate freshly caught fish sweetened with sea salt, seaweed, crushed inamona, or kukui nuts. It has become more popular these days in the city, but many don’t know enough about it. That will change after reading this short piece on the evolution of Poke.
Poke has had a rather non-convoluted evolution as its taste has mirrored new additions. Rather than sea salts, manufactured salts started being used, immigrants from Asia brought soy sauce, sesame oil, and many more.
Each group added its dishes to the Hawaiian meal, and since then, poke options have multiplied. It is guaranteed that if you visit any poke shop today, you will find many choices, including seaweed poke, spicy ahi poke, kimchi shrimp, and even octopus. Below is a list of poke in its various forms.
This dish contains a hearty serving of rice which essentially transforms poke from a snack into a meal, however it is prepared differently in the mainland and the islands. For the Mainland version, the poke is marinated in dressings for about 15 minutes to allow the fresh seafood to take in the flavors. Ingredients you will never find in a poker bowl include quinoa, chicken, corn, kale, mango, and many others.
This is regarded as poke’s most popular fusion. Poke nachos are made with fresh poke served on crispy nachos and bathed with a delicious sauce. You can find a version of this dish garnished with avocado and nori at Nico’s chips at Uncle’s Fishmarket & Grill, but the most behemoth can be found at Poke On Da Run in Oahu’s pearl city district. As a meal, it can feed two people, and as a pupu, it can feed four.
This is an iconic dish you can find at Hoku’s restaurants in Kahala. It is made by combining two great island foods – poke and rice balls – then deep frying them. The ahi poke is stuffed in a ball of sushi rice lightly seasoned and covered in salty, briny furikake before it is finally fried.
This dish is served at Moku Kitchen and Monkeypod Kitchen. Here, cubes of translucent ruby ahi are tucked inside crunchy wonton shells. The tacos are well garnished to increase the freshness and also round out texture and flavor. This meal is one of the rare versions of poke you can eat with your hands.
It is a specialty of East Oahu’s Otsuji farm, and the dish is an original fusion of fresh ahi poke sweetened with furikake and mayo on top of a bun of tempura-fried kale. The dish has a good blend of crispy-soft textures, and the warm and cold temperatures make it a nice meal.
To make this dish, spicy ahi poke is tucked into pockets of sweet, small inari made from thin sheets of deep-fried tofu. The dish can be found at Tamioka Seafoods of Waipahu and is a great one that will leave you wanting more.