Pronounced ‘po-kay’ not ‘po-kee’, poke in its most basic form is chunks of raw fish in a marinade. Its origins are unclear, although Hawaiian fisherman are said to have eaten a form of poke using the offcuts of their catches for many years. Traditionally, the marinade is made from a combination of soy sauce and sesame oil, an influence from Hawaii’s large Asian-American population (the highest percentage in the United States).
Although poke has been featured on the menus of London’s few Hawaiian restaurants (there are just two or three) and most recently at the popular market stall Eat Poke, London is yet to have dedicated poke bar. With the dish having already taken California by storm, it was inevitable that London would soon follow. This June will see the arrival of Ahi Poke to Fitzrovia, a laidback all-day restaurant where customers can build their own poké bowl with a choice of traditional fish (ahi or yellowfin tuna, sea bream and salmon).
The arrival of poke will help put Hawaiian cuisine on the map in the UK like never before; even Pret a Manger is planning to roll out its own version using marinated mushrooms, pickled cabbage and avocado. However, when a food trend exposes us to a new cuisine it can be too easy to become fixated on one dish and forget about the other local specialities, as seen with Peruvian food when ceviche first made waves in the UK. Read on to discover seven delicious Hawaiian foods and be inspired to host your own luau (a traditional Hawaiian party).