Pokē, Mon!

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When a friend gives you a block of yellowfin tuna, make Hawaiian pokē!

And so my friend Erin passed along another chunk of yellowfin tuna. And after making ceviche and pokē (in that order) the previous time she gifted me tuna, I decided this time to make pokē and ceviche (in that order).


It was an ordinary Monday, which I decided to transform into an extraordinary Hawaiian Monday. In addition to the pokē (served on crispy won ton skins), I grilled some Korean-style beef short ribs, made some mac salad and some plain white rice. Nothing gourmet, just good, working-class Hawaiian — served with something close to a mai tai. (Rum, OJ, pineapple juice and grenadine).

Pokē tastes best in Hawaii, with a trade wind blowing through an open patio door and the sound of waves crashing on the beach nearby. It’s pretty tasty here in California, still on the Pacific Rim, where I can almost see the Pacific Ocean over the mountain in front of my window. If you’re in New York or London, just pretend.

Mai tais

Mai tais

I was going to do some research on pokē to make for a more interesting post. But then I got lazy and decided that would take away from my unbridled joy and simply eating it. In Hawaii, they often make it with a type of wispy seaweed called limu. But the seaweed is hard to source here, and I find it distracting anyway. Some people put macadamia nuts in their pokē; others incorporate fish eggs. I like it just like you’ll find described below.

Put it on some crispy wontons like I suggest, and serve it as a fun party appetizer. It is equally good served on high-quality potato chips (I tried it with Spanish star chef José Andres’ eponymous chips). Or, make some rice and mac salad, grill up some Korean BBQ, stir a mai tai and go full island.

Pok — the potato chip version

Poke — the potato chip version


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Ahi pokē
serves 4-6

1 lb. fresh ahi tuna
12 won ton skins
1 cup oil (olive, canola, grapeseed, whatever…)
2 scallions, finely minced
3 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. Chinese red chile oil (or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes)

Cut the tuna into smallish cubes and place in a large bowl.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and fry the wonton skins, 30-45 seconds per side, until golden and crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Toss tuna with remaining ingredients until incorporated. Cover and place in the fridge for an  hour to allow flavors to integrate. Toss again. Scoop about 1 tbsp. tuna mixture onto each of the wonton skins and serve.

*    *    *

Mai tai
makes one drink

2 oz. dark rum
2 oz. orange juice
2 oz. pineapple juice
drizzle of grenadine

Add a few ice cubes to a tall glass. Pour in orange juice, pineapple juice and rum. Stir lightly, then drizzle with a little grenadine.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    May 27, 2016 @ 20:23:40

    All scrumptious! Sean, have a safe, wonderful Memorial Say Weekend!


  2. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    May 27, 2016 @ 20:23:54

    oops DAY


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