Pick a Peck of Pickled Poke
On Saturday we braved the $4.75 a gallon gas and drove to Hilo for the day. First stop, the farmers market. For ten dollars I got three bags of sweet smelling and sap-sticky tropical fruit and vegetables: papayas, 5 for a dollar, sweet potatoes, apples bananas as long as your finger and sweet and tender. I asked one farmer for a couple of the thick blunt plantains he had on his table. No, no! He said. Those are for cooking. I know! I insisted. I want them! I'm going to go home and fry them up. He reluctantly handed them over, shaking his head. Crazy lady. The micronesian grandmas push the gawking haoles out of the way and bargain in a shout with all the micronesian farmers. I also got a bunch of narrow light purple Japanese eggplants, and some zucchinis. I was tempted by the tiny light-yellow mangoes and the ice cold "organi" coconuts, and bought some authentic Japanese fish-shaped pancakes, stuffed with Adzuki beans and cream cheese.
We went to the zoo and enjoyed the thick sweet tropical day-- so heavy you feel as if you should be able to able to see the currents and eddies as your hand moves through the air. The bony hipped tiger blearily eyed us and marked us with his spray through the chainlink (near miss! Alarming for the neighborhood cats!) and the peacocks stalked us. Baby girl loved the monkeys who climbed right to front of their cages and looked at her with their intent old-man faces. When she was tired out, we made our way back into town, down to the venerable Suisan fish market, right on the Hilo Bay.
Fish. Fish is so beautiful. Exotic Japan-flag fish, jeweled red menpachi, and huge silver ulua lie whole and minutes-dead under the glass on their ice beds. Live crabs and oysters and lobsters and clams click and breathe in buckets. And best of all-- a long butchers' counter of poke. Poke-- marinated raw sea food-- like firm red jewels. Dark in shoyu, vivid red in ikura eggs and wasabi, flecked with black sea weed and kukui nut oil, whole tiny octopuses, pink winged shellfish, dried and smoked ahi-- rows of cold savory variation.
We bought a half pound each of wasabi ahi and shoyu ahi, (sounds like a lot but each 8 dollar container was surprisingly small) and I nicked two toothpicks from the counter. We sat in the car and oohed and ahhed. Nothing fishy, nothing wilted sashimi-esque. Only saltiness, firmness, fleshiness. The colors were vivid, the flavors dense. Each mouthful was a morsel of cold savory goodness.
This recipe can only be an approximation!
Local Style Ahi Poke
Recipe courtesy Tidepools, Koloa, HI
- 8 ounces tuna sashimi block, small dice
- 1/8 teaspoon Hawaiian salt
- 1/8 teaspoon kukui nut
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- Pinch chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon green onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Furukake spice
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
Combine all ingredients in a stainless steel bowl and gently mix.
Make this on the day of use.