On how to perfect a trendy new dish
COOL inner city cafes once boasted health bowls that were superfood, paleo, gluten-free, vegan-friendly. Now, it is the day of the poké.
Pronounced poh-keh (somewhat disappointingly for the seven-year-old that lurks inside me), it is officially the hottest thing on Australian menus.
The Hawaiian dish was traditionally made by fishermen, combining trimmings from their catch of “ahi” tuna (or sometimes octopus) with seaweed and sweet onions. Serving it on a bowl of rice with soy sauce and sesame oil is a nod to the Japanese migrants who worked on the Hawaiian pineapple and sugar cane plantations from 1885 onwards.
Far more recently, poké’s popularity has been lifted by hipsters and healthfaddists. For the former, it fits with their obsession with sriracha, mayonnaise and pickly, fermented stuff and for the latter with their carb-, gluten-,meat-free urges.As poké slips neatly into both camps’ food arsenal, it has become a worldwide phenomenon.
Not to be outdone (or frightened off), here are my four favourite poké bowls, as well as my top tips for poké making.
POKÉ AHI BOWL
Toss cubes of yellowfin tuna in a mix of soy, saké and water with finely sliced spring onion whites.
Sweeten warm sushi rice with sushi seasoning.This is available at supermarkets but is easy to make. For 3 cups of uncooked rice,warm ½ cup (125ml) rice wine vinegar, 2 tbs caster sugar and 2 tsp salt until dissolved.Add the liquid to warm, cooked rice until seasoned to your liking.
Top with the tuna, crushed wasabi peas, sesame seeds, thin strips of toasted nori seaweed sheets, a few drops of sesame oil and pink pickled ginger.Add a sprinkle of good chilli flakes or you can top with Japanese furikake spice mix if you like.
POKÉ FATTY SALMON
Not my jazz nickname but all the pleasure of a California roll in a poké.
Cover one quarter of a bowl of warm, seasoned sushi rice with half a sliced avocado and the opposite quarter with sliced spring onions and coriander leaves.
Top the other two quarters with barely grilled fatty salmon cut from the edges and the underside of a whole salmon fillet. (Removing the thinner flaps from each edge of the fillet leaves you with a neat barrel of salmon that can be sliced for sashimi or for a chirashi bowl – see below.)
Cook the fatty salmon on baking paper in a frypan or on the flat grill of a barbecue until barely done. Sprinkle over crushed macadamia nuts and strips of crispy salmon skin (if you can be bothered to make it). Finally, stripe the bowl with thin lines of a Japanese mayonnaise.
Using a sharp knife, slice the barrel of a salmon fillet on an angle. Lay on the rice with ice-cold slices of radish, edamame (podded soy beans), a combination of crushed roasted cashews and sesame seeds, and homemade pickled ginger.
To make this, peel a knob of ginger with a teaspoon. Slice as thinly as you can. Rub with a 1:3 mix of salt and sugar, then leave until the ginger starts to give up some of its juice. Cover with rice wine vinegar and leave until needed.
Serve the poké bowl with a beaten dressing of wasabi, soy and lemon juice.
POKÉ QUEENSLAND BOWL
Top a bowl of brown rice with fingers of caramelised pineapple, grilled green prawn tails, a scant handful of sliced mint or coriander, thinly sliced jalapenos and lime wedges.
Top with a good drizzle of chilli caramel, crushed, salted peanuts and
toasted lap cheong sausage.You can always dump the prawns for swags of seared beef if you feel that way inclined If you do, I feel the lap cheong should go too, which would be a shame. For more easy poké bowls made with everything from crunchy schnitzel to virtuous tofu, go to delicious.com.au. There’s even one made with tinned tuna.
Poké bowl with pickled garlic and seaweed. Recipe at delicious.com.au