Poke: the Hawaiian fish dish that could be the new sushi

Bored of bone broth? Sick of sashimi? Try poke. A Hawaiian dish that is based around chopped raw fish, poke (pronounced “poh-keh”) has been a big part of the islands’ food culture since the 1970s. Now a raft of food trucks and restaurants across the US, and in the UK too, are starting to spread the word further afield.

If you’re based in London, you can try the dish out in all its glory at Eat Pokē, a pop-up eatery co-founded by Celia Farrar and Guy Jackson. We caught up with Farrar to find out more about the food, the flavours and the buzz around poke.

Eat Poke London

How did you discover poke and what drew you to it – what do you love about it?

“I first had poke about three years ago on a trip to visit a friend in Santa Monica, LA. It was from a little hole in the wall place on Venice Beach, one of the only spots serving poke exclusively at the time. I really loved it and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t everywhere! My friend and now business partner Guy Jackson and I began recipe testing our own versions once back in the UK and started Eat Pokē proper in spring 2015. As the word poke means simply ‘to cut or section’, we love the variety and possibility of flavours and textures in it as a dish – generally, if you think it will taste good, add it in!”

Eat Poke London

Poke has been identified as an up and coming trend on a few UK and US food websites recently. Why do you think it’s getting so popular right now? 

“I think sushi as a whole has become loved in both the UK and US in past years by people who love very fresh and healthy food and poke can kind of be seen as an extension of that. The really great thing about poke however is its laid-back feel as a dish – generally served in a bowl, you can customise it with a whole variety of add-ons. We have served ours on black rice, kelp noodles, with seaweed and with kale and topped with nuts, pickles and avocado. The most important part of poke is sourcing the absolute freshest fish possible but after this it is kind up to you!”

Eat Poke London

What flavours/varieties do you make it in and which one would you recommend to a first-time trier?

“We love trying out different marinades and fish but our hero dish is definitely our Classic Ahi. We marinate cubes of wonderfully fresh and sustainably caught Yellowfin Tuna in tamari, sesame and ginger and serve it on sticky black rice with wakame salad, homemade pickles and furikake. It’s flavours that people recognise but done in a fresh way. We also cater for vegetarians with a tofu, miso and pickled shiitake mushroom version.”

Eat Poke London

What events do you have coming up – where can we find you?

“We are mainly trading with KERB at lunchtime markets around London but we also trade with Street Feast and do private events. We have a few other pop-ups in the pipeline for 2016, so the best thing to do is follow us on Twitter and Instagram where we post regular updates!”

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