Poke in the Hawaiian language (‘Olelo Hawai’i) means to slice or cut into pieces. Today, we use the word poke to describe a food dish in Hawaiian cuisine. Traditionally, the food dish consisted of fish meat that has been gutted, skinned, and deboned. It is served with traditional condiments such as sea salt, crushed kukui (candlenut), and limu kohu (red algae seaweed). Nowadays, poke is described as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvres; simply known as pupu in Hawaiian. Seafood lovers will eat poke as a main course.

According to Rachel Laudan, food historian at the University of Hawaii the present form of poke became popular around the 1970s. The most common Hawaiian poke consists of ‘ahi (tuna), particularly the yellow-fin. Other types of fish and seafoods are also used in poke dishes. Maui Onion, green onion, and tomatoes are common vegetables which compliment the salad-like dish.

limu kohu poke

tako poke

Hawaii’s multi-cultured presence certainly influenced the ways we prepare and eat poke. Asian ingredients are also used. The second most common poke dish is made with octopus (he’e); commonly known as tako poke. Tako is the Japanese word for octopus.

The popularity of culinary fusion has taken the Hawaiian dish to an entirely new and creative way to eat what was once known as a “yuck, no way, never in my life” seafood cuisine to those not familiar with Hawaiian food stuck in a landlocked stereotype.

Aloooooha! You can now find restaurants worldwide serving various Hawaiian poke. It’s great to see the world experimenting and enjoying food from the most isolated place on earth. Wait, isn’t this why the prices have skyrocketed so fast that people have to wait until payday to enjoy the ocean freshness? Nevertheless while the adventurous flock to order stacked, carved, and sculptured pieces of art, Hawaii Locals will continue going to their favorite fish market to pick up a pound or two of fresh poke. We’ve known of the magical flavors before it was part of pop culture and still be savouring our comfort food after the craze has died out.