HAWAIIAN TUNA POKE with WASABI RICE CRACKERS

Once popular only among Hawaiian natives, fishermen, and shirtless surfers from Australia to California, poke, or freshly cubed seasoned raw fish, deserves its newly acquired mainstream sea to shining sea popularity. With a back-to-basics, sustainable, and healthy trending American food culture ethos, fish makes sense. For hundreds of years, certainly before Captain Cook's assassination in his attempt to kidnap and ransom 18th century Hawaiian King Kalaniʻōpuʻu, Hawaiian comfort food included poke. Originally, poke was a fish salad made with a fisherman's cut offs--the pieces leftover around the bones, heads and tails of his catch. Seasoned with little more than crunchy seaweed and volcanic salt, early poke recipes were a snack rather than a meal. Any visit to the Aloha State should include a flip flop and t- shirt outing to a local poke bar. If a journey to paradise is not on the horizon, bring a bit of Hawaiian utopia to the home kitchen. Fifteen minutes and some sushi grade tuna make it possible to serve a healthy, gourmet meal to any fish loving crowd. 

Note bene: Flash frozen grade tuna fine. Cut the tuna along the grain to avoid jagged edges. This plate is equally delicious made with sushi grade salmon. Any soy sauce works, however, the Japanese soy sauce is slightly sweet because mirin has been added to it. It is also a bit saltier than Chinese soy sauce--if only Chinese soy available add a 1/2 teaspoon sugar when whisking the sauce or a bit more mirin. The contrast of the black sesame seeds and the red flesh of the fish and bright green avocado is nice, but white sesame seeds provide the same flavor. For less spice, use toasted sesame oil rather than hot sesame oil and cut back on the pepper flakes. Persian cucumbers are tiny, void of seeds, and super sweet. However, any cucumber may be substituted. The wasabi rice crackers are available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Hawaiian sea salt, Alea, is unrefined sea salt that has been mixed with red Alea volcanic clay and is higher in iron oxide and minerals and less salty than refined salt. However, use regular sea salt if Alea unavailable. Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, but are interchangeable. 

DIRECTIONS

1. Whisk the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, sweet onion, ginger, and lime juice together in a glass mixing bowl.

2. Lightly salt the tuna with the sea salt and add the tuna to the marinade. Gently toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 2 days.

3. Add the nuts to a small, dry pan and toast over low heat until golden brown. Reserve.

4. Just before serving, remove from refrigerator and taste for seasoning (an additional 1 tablespoon of soy sauce may be needed to brighten the tuna if it has sat for more than 8 hours).

5. Toss the black sesame seeds, scallion, and avocado with the tuna.

6. Divide the poke equally among 4 bowls.

7. Sprinkle with the nuts and the cucumber.

8. Serve immediately with the wasabi rice crackers.

SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound sushi grade tuna, 1/2" cubes

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice wine vinegar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot sesame oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 3 tablespoons 1/4" dice sweet onion (Maui or Vidalia)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated

  • 1/2 lime, juiced

  • 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

  • 1 scallion, sliced on the bias (including green part)

  • 1 avocado, 1/4" dice

  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

  • 1/2 cup Persian cucumber, 1/8" dice

  • Alea red Hawaiian sea salt

  • Wasabi Rice Crackers