This is a quick follow-up post to last week’s Hawaiian Gifts List.
Number 14 on the list is Sam Choy’s Little Hawaiian Poke Cookbook, which some reviewers don’t love because the key poke ingredients for many of the recipes are more than a bit obscure. While limu kohu and ‘inamona might be relatively easy to find around Honolulu, they are nearly impossible for mainlanders to locate.
Fear not! Amazon and the internet are here to make sure your poke looks, smells, and tastes like the real thing. With a little bit of advance planning, you can have all your key poke ingredients lined up and ready to go before you cut into that fresh slab of ahi you just paid $30 for at your local fish market.
Poke Ingredients & Where to Get Them
For a basic no frills poke with true island style, you only need a few key ingredients:
- Aloha Shoyu or Hawaiian sea salt
- Ogo seaweed
- Kukui nuts
- Sweet onion (Maui, Walla Walla) or similar at your local grocery
- Fresh sushi-grade ahi (yellowfin tuna) or similar at your local fish shop
It really is that easy!
Once you dive a bit deeper into the world of poke, all kinds of delicious tweaks become possible. Here are some further thoughts, ideas, and links to purchase more advanced poke ingredients.
Sushi-Grade Fish: Ahi (yellowfin tuna), aku (skipjack tuna), bluefin tuna, and salmon are the most common. Get these or close substitutes at your best-quality local fish counter. You’ll generally need to ask what’s available in sushi/sashimi grade. It’ll usually be something fresh, local, and wild caught. If the fish isn’t fresh, your poke will be yucky.
Seaweed: Limu kohu is an edible red seaweed that is the most traditional for poke. Get it from a local market or ask around if you’re in the islands. It’s a real delicacy and nearly impossible to find on the mainland. Ogo also works great. Order dried ogo from Amazon and dunk it in water before adding it to your poke. You can also get ogo in a pre-packaged poke mix that also includes Hawaiian salt and chili peppers.
Kukui Nuts: Chopped kukui nuts plus salt makes a traditional condiment called inamona. It’s easy to make yourself once you find a good source for kukui nuts. Here’s a pre-roasted option (add your own salt) or you can always buy them raw and then chop and roast them yourself on the stovetop. You can also use finely chopped macadamia nuts in a pinch.
Soy Sauce or Hawaiian Salt: Straight island salt was the traditional ingredient but most modern poke recipes call for soy sauce (shoyu) instead. We like the low-sodium Aloha Shoyu for a little extra island flavor in our poke. If you’re a purist, just swap in as much Red Hawaiian salt as you like for the soy sauce.