If you've spent anytime in Hawaii, then you know what the deal is: it's all about the poke. And now more than ever poke is having a major moment on the mainland. I mean, sure, I love the boiled peanuts, a bowl of Saimin, and a great malasada (or ten) is a must, but it's not really a trip to Hawaii without some poke.
If you haven't had it, here's the deal: poke (pronounced poh-kay) is like a Hawaiian-style ceviche—at its most basic, sushi-grade seafood is mixed with salt and onions. Lately, my favorite way of serving poke has been super untraditional as a sort of Mexican tostada with Hawaiian flavors. Anytime I spend more than a few weeks away from California, I start craving Mexican food, so this is a best-of-both-worlds situation for me.
You can mix it up and try these tostadas, or if you’re more of a purist, go ahead and just eat the poke and call it a day. Heck, you could even just make the slaw and use it whenever you need a quick side dish. But, the sum of this dish is even better than its parts so I encourage you to try it out.
trimmed, seeded, and minced
for garnish (optional)
for garnish (optional)
For the poke: To cut the ahi, use a very sharp knife and cut it against the grain into 1/2-inch pieces. (If you are having a hard time slicing the fish, you can freeze it for just a few minutes to help firm it up and make it easier to cut. If you’re eating the poke on its own, go ahead and cut the fish into bigger (3/4 or 1-inch) pieces.)
Combine ahi with the soy, chile, sesame oil, and sweet onion. Cover and refrigerate in the coldest part of the fridge or nest in the refrigerator in a bowl of ice water for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours to thoroughly chill. Stir in the scallions just before using. Meanwhile, make the slaw and tostadas.
Make sure to get ahi-grade, responsibiy caught fish. Poke is best the day it is made and should be consumed within 2 days.
For the slaw: Halve the cabbage and notch out the core of the cabbage. Place the cabbage flat-side down on a board and slice crosswise into thin shreds (you want about 3 cups total). Mix with the rice wine vinegar, honey, and cilantro and set aside at least 5 minutes before using.
Slaw can be made up to 1 day ahead but know that it will get more wilted with time.
For the tostadas: Heat oven to 500°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Brush both sides of tortillas with the oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
Tostadas can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cover at store at room temperature until ready to use.
To serve, layer the tostada with a quarter of the slaw, top with a quarter of the poke, a few slices of avocado, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. As desired, drizzle with some mayonnaise and serve.
The key here is to get the best quality fish you can find. Tell your fishmonger that you’re using the ahi for sushi or poke so that they give you the best cut. As for the Kewpie mayonnaise, it’s the only jarred mayonnaise that I eat. It’s a Japanese-style mayonnaise that is richer and creamier than the American brands. If you can’t find it, you can leave it out or use your favorite mayonnaise.
Photo and food styling by Aida Mollenkamp