Health food: Hawaiian 'poke'

Jill Dupleix
Surfer's favourite: Poke is an easy, fun way to serve tuna, salmon or kingfish.
Surfer's favourite: Poke is an easy, fun way to serve tuna, salmon or kingfish. Photo: Edwina Pickles

What is it?

A Japanese-influenced Hawaiian dish of raw ahi tuna, traditionally served chopped and tossed with the local limu (seaweed) and ground kukui (candlenuts). Modern versions of poke (pronounced pok-kay) are popping up on contemporary menus, pushed by break-through chefs such as LA's Roy Choi, and eagerly adopted as part of our global love affair with all things raw.

Where is it?

At Showbox Coffee Brewers in Manly, the "poke poke" is a bowl of nutty black rice mixed with fresh edamame (soy beans), carrot, chilli and coriander, topped with a glossy pile of salmon sashimi, soft-cooked egg and Japanese pickled ginger. It's the perfect fit for the area, says Showbox's Bo Hinzack, who calls Manly the new "surfer's paradise".  "You get up, go for a surf, then have 'poke poke' for breakfast," he says. "It's healthy, fresh and high in protein – and we're never going to be able to take it off the menu."

Riverside Melbourne might not be a surf beach, but Kobe Jones brings it that bit closer with seafood poke shots of freshly marinated salmon, tuna and kingfish in poke sauce, with shallots and roasted garlic. Kobe Jones Sydney goes one better with a Hawaiian roll that contains prawn, cucumber, burdock root and pineapple chilli jam, topped with tuna and avocado and drizzled with poke sauce and a bittersweet soy glaze. "It's one of our most popular signature dishes," says general manager Trent Schmidt. "The colours are incredible and people are blown away when it arrives at the table. They always comment on how refreshing it is."

'Poke poke' at Showbox Coffee Brewers.
'Poke poke' at Showbox Coffee Brewers. Photo: Fiona Morris

Why do I care?

It's a fun, casual way to serve super-fresh tuna, salmon or kingfish as a first course, or with spicy fried rice as a main course.

Can I do it at home?

As easy as poi. Actually, a lot easier. Poi is a far more challenging Hawaiian dish of glutinous taro flour.

Tuna poke with rice crackers

500g sashimi-grade yellowfin tuna

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp mirin

2 tbsp rice vinegar or lemon juice


1 tbsp Sriracha sauce or chilli sambal, to taste

1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp sea salt

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Japanese rice crackers for serving

1. Cut the tuna into 1 cm chunks and toss in the soy, mirin, rice vinegar, chilli sauce, sesame oil, chilli flakes and sea salt. Toss well, mixing with your hands until well coated, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

2. To serve, add the spring onions and toss lightly. Scatter with sesame seeds and serve with rice crackers, prawn crackers or lettuce leaves.

Serves 4 as a starter.

VIC Kobe Jones, 18-38 Siddeley Street, WTC Wharf, Melbourne, 03 9329 9173,
Kobe Jones, 29 Lime Street, King Street Wharf, Sydney, 02 9299 5290,
Showbox Coffee Brewers, 19 Whistler Street, Manly, 02 9976 5000,