Making Poke at Home
The only tricky part of making poke at home is getting the very best fish. Ahi and salmon poke are the easiest, but hamachi or nearly any super-fresh, firm-fleshed fish will work.
Start with sushi-grade ahi tuna from one of the markets listed below. Remove any dark meat, skin, and fibrous pieces (these are fine for grilling). Cut tuna into ¼-inch cubes and toss with just enough toasted sesame oil and kosher salt to lightly coat and season (about 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 teaspoon of salt for each ½-pound of fish). Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve well chilled with taro or sturdy potato chips. Optional add-ins (toss together right before serving) include finely shaved sweet onion, minced green onion, toasted sesame seeds, firm cucumber cut into ¼-inch cubes, limu (seaweed), ponzu, soy sauce, or whatever turns you on. Experiment on small batches. Poke can also be served with sushi rice, chilled soba noodles, seaweed salad, mixed greens, or any other creative base.
Pacific Catch Salmon Poke
Salmon poke is easy to make at home. Start with top-quality salmon; the restaurant uses farmed sustainable salmon from the Chilean Patagonia. Select a piece from the thick end of the filet for uniform thickness, and ask the butcher to remove the skin and pin bones for you. Four ounces of salmon per person is usually the right amount since this is a rich dish.
- 1 pound salmon, cured and diced into ¼-inch cubes
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced into ½-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons shallot oil (or other flavored oil)
- ¼ bunch green onions, green portion only, sliced very thinly
To prepare the salmon, salt it lightly. This removes some moisture, firms the texture, and enriches the flavor. For 1 pound of skinless salmon filet, you will need roughly ¼ cup of Kosher salt. Place the salt into a shallow dish, then dredge the salmon to coat completely. Allow any excess salt to fall back into the container. Place the salmon on a plate, and refrigerate for 10 minutes. You will see tiny droplets of water form on the surface.
Remove from the refrigerator, and rinse the salt off under cold water. Refrigerate salmon until ready to prepare the dish. (This step can be done a day in advance.)
The second step is to prepare the shallot-flavored canola oil that will season the salmon. (You can also substitute olive oil or another flavored oil, such as garlic oil.) For 1 pound of salmon, you will need 2 tablespoons of oil. (It is easier to make the oil in a larger quantity, and it keeps for up to a month covered in the refrigerator.) For 4 ounces of oil, use 2 ounces of thinly sliced shallots. Place the oil and shallots in a small pot over medium heat, and cook until the shallots are a rich brown color. Allow to cool, then strain the oil. Reserve until you are ready to prepare the dish.
Combine all remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl, and season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix to combine thoroughly, then transfer to serving plates. Before serving, top each portion with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of kosher salt. Serve with chips.
Courtesy of Pacific Catch restaurants (with locations in Dublin and Walnut Creek)
East Bay Fish Markets
Walnut Creek Yacht Club: 1555 Bonanza St., Walnut Creek, (925) 944-3474, wcyc.net. Call at least one day ahead to buy fish.
Berkeley Bowl: 2020 Oregon St., Berkeley, (510) 843-6929. 920 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, (510) 898-9555, berkeleybowl.com.
Tokyo Fish: 1220 San Pablo Ave., Albany, (510) 524-7243, tokyofish.net.
Monterey Fish Market: 1582 Hopkins St., Berkeley, (510) 525-5600, montereyfish.com.
Don't miss our article about Poke in the East Bay.