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Let’s talk about Poké

How Hawaiian raw fish has taken over the street-food scene
Let’s talk about Poké
June 12, 2017   |    Scarlett Russell

For Celia Farrar and Guy Jackson, both 31 from east London, a mutual love of a Hawaiian raw fish bowl dish spawned brand new careers (starting Eat Poké) and last year’s biggest food trend in the capital.

For those yet to tune into this phenomenon, poké (pronounced p-okay) means to cut, and the bowl food is essentially raw fish with, well, whatever you like.

Celia and Guy favour black rice, kelp noodles or wakame salad, pickles, wasabi peas, ginger, coriander and marinated seaweed.

It was in 2013 when Celia first discovered it. ‘I was in LA and one morning my friend drove us to Venice Beach promising me the best hangover cure,’ she says. ‘It was poké and the little restaurant was one of the only ones serving it at that time. I was hooked.’

Guy’s first experience was in Hawaii: ‘A local man gave me a deli pot filled with poké. We sat on the curb eating the freshest tuna ever.’

PASSION FOR POKÉ

Friends since university, Celia, who worked in fashion design, and Guy, a graphic designer, started talking more passionately about poké.

‘Neither of us had food industry experience,’ says Celia. ‘But we found a great fish supplier and learned how to fillet by watching YouTube.’ A street-food stall, Eat Poké, followed in April 2015 in Brick Lane Upmarket, and it wasn’t long before it was noticed by street-food specialists Kerb London. ‘That’s when we left our jobs,’ says Celia. ‘There were no other poké places in London, but it started to catch on.’

Offers flooded in for private events, followed by a pop-up in Selfridges, a stint on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch and a book – Poké: Hawaiian Inspired Sushi Bowls. In this beautifully designed recipe book, you’ll find the ideal dishes for summer dining. Healthy and colourful, poké will introduce you to island life at home.

SPICY TOBIKO SALMON

The bright orange tobiko adds a delicately smoky flavour and an interesting, crunchy texture. Piled onto the salmon, it also lends an impressive volcanic appearance to this fiery dish.

Serves 4
For the base
• 240g short-grain brown rice

For the salad
• 3 carrots, peeled
• 2 baby cucumbers
• 125ml tamari soy sauce
• 60ml dashi stock
• 60g sugar
• 125ml rice wine vinegar

For the poké
• 2 large fresh salmon fillets (approx 400g), skin removed and cut into ½in cubes

For the marinade
• 75g spicy mayo
• ½ tbsp tobiko (flying fish roe)
• 2tsp yuzu kosho chilli paste (this is fierystuff, so add carefully bit by bit )

For the garnish
• 2 green chillies, thinly sliced
• 2tbsp nori furikake (seaweed seasoning)

1. Cook the rice as per the cooking instructions on the packet and leave to cool.

2. Use a julienne peeler to create long, thin strips from the carrots and cucumbers and transfer to a bowl. Whisk together the remaining ingredients to make a dressing and pour over the salad.

3. Gently fold the salmon poké into the marinade ingredients and thoroughly coat. To assemble, start with a base of brown rice, add the salad and then pile the fish on top. Garnish with green chillies and furikake.

4. Try pimping by adding extra tobiko and pickled cucumbers.


Poké bowls are extremely flexible – they can be adapted to suit any taste and dietary need.
If catering for veggies, sub out the fish for chopped tempeh, tofu or even cubes of avocado and sweet potato. A more easy-going version of sushi, bowls can be pimped with crunchy pickles and mouth- watering marinades.

SPICY TEMPEH POKÉ WITH BEETROOT + QUINOA SALAD

This vegan poké is such a colourful and vibrant dish, full of fresh vegetables, subtle spices
and packed with protein

Serves 4
For the poké
• 350g tempeh, cut into ¾in cubes
• 2tsp garlic powder
• 2tsp onion powder
• 2tsp paprika
• 2tsp chilli powder
• Zest of 2 lemons

For the salad
• 100g quinoa
• 2 beetroots (beets), cooked and cut into ½in cubes
• 100g tinned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
• 2 handfuls of spinach, torn
• 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
• 2tsp white sesame seeds, toasted
• 2 roasted red (bell) peppers, cut into ¼in cubes

For the dressing
• 1tbsp hot pepper sauce
• 200ml olive oil
• Juice of 2 limes
• 2tsp mirin
• 2tsp soy sauce
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
• 2 shallots, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/Gas 4.

2. For the poké, toss together the tempeh, spices and lemon zest. Arrange the coated tempeh on a lightly oiled baking tray and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

3. To make the salad, rinse the quinoa in cold water. Transfer to a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The grains will swell, but should still have a little bite. Once cooked, drain well and place in a bowl to cool. Add the remaining salad ingredients to the quinoa.

4. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss gently to combine.

5. To serve, divide the salad among 4 plates and scatter the roasted tempeh over the top.

VEGAN DELIGHT

Tempeh is the Indonesian cousin of tofu, created from a fermentation process. Available in health food shops.

MANGO + PAPAYA POKÉ WITH COCONUT RICE

A sweeter take on a traditional poké rice bowl, with nutty brown coconut rice and refreshing cubes of fruit tossed in lime juice. It’s worth adding a crunchy element for texture, such as toasted coconut flakes or sesame seeds.

Serves 4
For the base
• 240g short-grain brown rice
• 400ml tinned full-fat coconut milk
• 4tbsp soft brown sugar
• Pinch of salt

For the poké
• Zest and juice of 2 limes
• 2 mangoes, cut into ½in cubes
• ½ medium papaya, cut into ½in cubes

1. Cook the rice as per the instructions. Meanwhile, put the coconut milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan and simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

2. When the rice is just cooked and is still warm, add two-thirds of the coconut milk mixture and stir through gently. Transfer to bowls.

3. Stir the lime juice and zest through the fruit poké. Pile the fruit on top of the coconut rice and serve with the reserved coconut milk mixture.

Try pimping with toasted desiccated coconut and some black sesame seeds.


Poké: Hawaiian Inspired Sushi Bowls contains recipes for some seriously tasty bowls (Hardie Grant, £12.99) Photography by Matt Russell.

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