Hawaiian Poke Bowl
I wanted to write a post about Poke bowls because of their current popularity and also because Poke (pronounced POH-keh) will always remind me of Hawaii, a special place and the home to my uncle Ben, who passed away unexpectedly last week. I must confess, it’s been a sad week for me. Loss is always difficult, and getting older has not seemed to help. But making poke has comforted me and made me smile again.
Poke itself is a Hawaiian version of Japanese sashimi. To me, it is a great meal, packed with protein and low in saturated fat. The most common Hawaiian Poke is made with ahi (tuna), but you will see lots of variations. Restaurants dedicated entirely to poke have popped up from New York to California. Some of the more traditional Hawaiian Poke is “limu poke,” “spicy mayo poke,” or “shoyu Poke.” But all are made the same: cubes of fresh, chilled, deep red ahi tuna tossed in a sweet, yet slightly salty, marinade.
A more recent modern invention is the “Poke bowl,” which seems to be on menus everywhere. A poke bowl is simply poke and some variety of seasonal fresh raw vegetables (and at times, fruit), artistically arranged on top of a bed of rice, featuring beautiful poke in the center. I always order poke when I’m in Hawaii and I look forward to having it, as it perfectly symbolizes the raw natural beauty of the islands.
My uncle, although originally from the Midwest, loved Hawaii, its food, its culture, and its people. He moved there many years ago to raise his family, assimilating to the islands’ customs and laid-back style. They say everyone has different coping mechanisms when it comes to death; we all process things differently and in our own time.
I am typically quite private. I would not have thought making or blogging about Poke would comfort me, but it has. I am incredibly thankful for the time my family and I had with my uncle, for the fishing and hunting stories he told us, and how warmly he embraced us after many years of distance. I guess Poke will now have some deeper meaning for me, reminding me of happy times with Uncle Ben.