Poke – pronounced “poh-kay”, is one of the hottest dishes to eat in the world right now and I’m seeing it all over the Internet. Sited as a top food trend for 2016 by Food 52 poke is something I have wanted to make for a while. Here in South Africa it’s pretty unknown and I’ve only seen it on one restaurant menu, so it will probably start catching on next year or in 2018.
This is also my dream food because it combines so many things I love, raw and cooked elements, fresh flavours and crunchy texture. You can really go mad with seemingly endless variations of this dish that originates in Hawaii and adapt it directly to your own taste preference.
For my first rendition of the dish – and I say first because I’m planning on doing many more, I wanted it to taste like a bowl of my favourite sushi. It really is deconstructed sushi anyway served in a much more user-friendly way.
You can use any type of rice (or even grain), but I used short-grain sushi rice and cooked and seasoned it the way you would for sushi. I wanted to get the seaweed in there somehow. I could have shredded nori and mixed it into the rice, but I love the umami taste and texture of wakame (seaweed) so added a generous pinch to the water with the rice. It rehydrates into delicious ribbons that combine so beautifully with the rest of the ingredients making it so very Japanesey (ok I know that isn’t a real word).
As this is so flexible I’m already thinking a Poke party would be a fabulous idea. I’ll set up a buffet of all the elements and people can DIY their own bowls.
I also made a cheats wasabi mayo by simply mixing wasabi paste with Kewpie mayonnaise (that’s the Japanese mayo that comes in the squeezy bottle-shaped like a bowling pin). If you love the mayo drizzled over your sushi like they do at Willoughby’s then this is exactly what you want to keep in your fridge. This adds a creamy flavour to the poke and it’s all about layering the flavour.
You can eat your Poke with warm rice cold like with sushi, it’s totally up to you. You can also add whatever garnishes you like, and I had to have pickled ginger in the mix. That, along with toasted black and white sesame seeds, sliced spring onions and the wasabi mayo. It’s all kinds of umami-intense heavenly delicious.
This recipe would work with tuna or salmon, just make sure its super fresh and of the highest quality – preferably sushi grade.
Finely julienned cucumber would be a lovely addition to this poke bowl too.
Oh, and I found Tagarashi spice at my local Asian supermarket and it adds a hit of incredible spice to the bowl. It’s also known as Japanese 7 spice.
Recipe – makes 2 generous bowls
- 1 cup short-grain sushi rice
- a good pinch of dried wakame (seaweed)
- 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1tsp salt
- 1 1/5 Tbsp sugar
- I fillet of salmon or tuna – about 300 – 400gms (skinned and pin bones removed)
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 Tbsp soy
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds (black and white or one or the other)
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped spring onions
- ½ – ¾ avocado
- Pickled ginger slices
- A sprinkle of Togarashi spice
- Additional sesame seeds and spring onions to garnish (optional)
- Kewpie wasabi mayonnaise
Bring a medium pot of water to the boil – about 5 cups of water. Rinse the sushi rise about 3 times until the water runs clear. You can do this in a glass jar or over a sieve (the glass jar wastes less water though). Add this to the boiling water along with the dried wakame and boil for 10 minutes uncovered on high and then another 10 minutes on low. Drain. If you are serving the rice cold, then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. If you are serving this hot, you need to have all your other elements ready so you can start dishing up your bowls.
To make the rice dressing put all the ingredients in a small pot and bring this to the boil. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Mix this with the sushi rice (hot or cold).
Cut your salmon into smallish cubes and add the sesame oil, soy, honey, seeds and spring onions. Mix to combine. Check and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Divide your rice between two bowls. Top with the divided fish, avocado cubes, pickled ginger and other garnishes. Serve with additional soy on the side if necessary.
To make the wasabi mayo, simply mix the desired quantity of wasabi paste with Kewpie mayonnaise and stir. Dollop onto your poke bowl at whim.
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