Fill up your poke bowl

The iconic Hawaiian dish “plate lunch” might include Kalua Pork or hamburger steak smothered in gravy and macaroni salad, but you might also find a small, colorful portion of the raw fish dish called poke (PO-kay). This simple, vibrant dish has swept the mainland, too, found in restaurants dedicated to bowls of raw fish in almost limitless ingredient and enhancement combinations.

Early Hawaiians simply tossed raw fish with Hawaiian salt, seaweed and kukui nuts, the shell of which are polished to make the beads in the lei you might don at a luau. Poke is usually raw ahi, or yellowfin, tuna with various marinades that might have that great toasted flavor from sesame oil, bright ginger hints and some salty notes from soy sauce. Simply slice it up — poke means “to slice” — and toss with your favorite ingredients. Variations abound including in the fish used, which branches out into swordfish, lobster, crab and snapper. At many of these newfangled “fast casual” poke spots and food trucks, you can peruse the selection of ingredients behind the counter and create your own flavor experience choosing vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits and spices.