Whether they called it poke or not, Hawaiians have been eating a version of this raw fish dish since the days before Captain Cook in the 18th Century. Now, the mainland has finally caught on, and we’re all enjoying Hawaiians’ favorite dish.
One of the most anticipated recent poke-centric openings was Top Chef alum Brooke Williamson’s Hawaiian-inspired restaurant, Da Kikokiko, which debuted in Los Angeles in October. We caught up with Brooke (as she battles again for the Top Chef crown this season in Charleston), and she shared her recipe for yellowfin tuna poke and some helpful tips for preparing it at home.
"Poke is really all about the fish,” Williamson says. “Don't underestimate how important it is to begin with the freshest, highest quality fish as possible. There's nowhere for poor quality ingredients to hide here, so don't use them. It's that simple." That means you should visit your local fishmonger to purchase fish with optimal freshness and minimal connective tissue so it will taste great and won’t be chewy.
Once you have your fish, don’t mask its flavor with the other ingredients. “Yes, all the other ingredients involved play a major role in what makes poke poke, but the star should be the fish,” Williamson says. “So don’t forget the sesame oil, but also don’t use so much that it overwhelms the subtleties of the delicate tuna.”
Da Kikokiko Yellowfin Tuna Signature Poke
- 6 oz. Fresh yellowfin tuna
- 2 tbsp. scallions, sliced
- 1 tbsp. Maui onion, sliced (If you can’t find Maui onions, use another sweet onion like Walla Walla or Vidalia)
- 1 tbsp. hijiki seaweed
- 1 small pinch of red chili flake
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds, divided
- 2 oz. Shoyu Sauce
- 2 tbsp. roasted macadamia nuts
- 1 small pinch of Hawaiian lava salt
- 1 c. soy sauce
- ¼ c. granulated sugar
- ¾ c. rice vinegar
- ¼ c. mirin
- ¼ c. sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
Begin by whisking together all the ingredients in the shoyu sauce in a mixing bowl, then set aside to prepare your poke. Slice your tuna into large chunks, then place into a separate mixing bowl. Add the scallions, onion, seaweed, chili flake, one teaspoon of sesame seeds, and shoyu sauce until ingredients are evenly dispersed. Garnish with the macadamia, remaining sesame seeds and Hawaiian lava salt.