Make poke like a pro

As the pop­u­lar­ity of poke grows, learn how to make the Hawai­ian spe­cial­ity at home.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste - By DEB­BIE MOOSE

FOR some­thing so cool, poke is re­ally hot.

The com­bi­na­tion of chopped raw fish, rice and veg­eta­bles — pro­nounced POH-keh — started in Hawaii, where you can pick it up like fast food. Now, poke is find­ing it­self on restau­rant ap­pe­tiser menus and has spe­cial­ity poke bars ded­i­cated to it.

It’s even bet­ter to make poke bowls at home. Get the right in­gre­di­ents, do a lit­tle chop­ping and you have a sim­ple, sat­is­fy­ing meal. You can even throw a poke party and let guests fill their bowls with the base, fish, top­pings and sauce they pre­fer.

Fish is a cru­cial part of a poke bowl. Tuna is tra­di­tional in Hawaii, but you can use other kinds of firm, thick fish. Thin flaky fish, such as floun­der, will not hold to­gether in cubes as well. Cooked shrimp or craw­fish also are good. Some poke bars of­fer cooked chicken or tofu for those who don’t like fish. The Food Net­work’s Aarti Se­queira has used roasted beet cubes to make veg­e­tar­ian poke.

No mat­ter the fish, it’s im­por­tant that it’s ab­so­lutely fresh, as with sushi, be­cause you’re us­ing it raw. Re­mem­ber that the term “sushi­grade” is not reg­u­lated, so it could mean any­thing. Use your eyes and nose. Ask where the fish came from, and when it ar­rived at the store. Fresh fish shouldn’t smell “fishy”, but should have a clean, ocean-like scent. Avoid fish that ap­pears slimy, or has a sheen that may in­di­cate age or the use of preser­va­tives.

Be sure that cut­ting sur­faces and uten­sils are clean. Use a dif­fer­ent cut­ting board and knife for veg­eta­bles to avoid cross-con­tam­i­na­tion from raw fish.

The key to poke is cut­ting the fish into small bite-sized cubes, about 2.5cm. Ev­ery­thing about poke should be easy to eat with ei­ther chop­sticks or a fork.

Be­cause you’ll be com­bin­ing it with other in­gre­di­ents, 450g of fish should be plenty for a main dish for one per­son. Half of that would do for an ap­pe­tiser or as part of a meal.

Next, the ques­tion is: to mar­i­nate or not to mar­i­nate. Marinating the fish overnight in the re­frig­er­a­tor in a com­bi­na­tion of soy sauce and sesame oil is tra­di­tional. How­ever, marinating gives the fish a chewy tex­ture. If you pre­fer a more sushi-like ex­pe­ri­ence, don’t mar­i­nate.

Typ­i­cally, cooked and cooled sushi rice is the base for the fish and top­pings. Other kinds of rice, or even shred­ded greens also are op­tions.

Cus­tomise your poke bowl with a se­lec­tion of top­pings. Fresh in­gre­di­ents and flavours usu­ally work best. But what­ever you use, cut it into small pieces, sim­i­lar in size to the fish. The amount of top­pings is up to you, but try not to over­whelm the fish, which is the star.

If you didn’t mar­i­nate the fish, add a sauce – and you can get cre­ative here, too.

Just fol­low this chart and you’ll be mak­ing poke like a pro for your­self or a crowd. – The News & Ob­server/Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Assemble your bowl

1. Se­lect one base.

2. Pick a fish and ar­range on top of the base.

3. Add top­pings – as many as you want.

4. If you didn’t mar­i­nate the fish, sprin­kle on a sauce or two. If you mar­i­nated it, you prob­a­bly won’t need more sauce.

5. Devour your beau­ti­ful poké bowl.

— TNS

With a lit­tle prep, you can make your own poke bowls at home – or even throw a poke party, and let guests fill their bowls with the base, fish, top­pings and sauce they pre­fer.

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