Versions of poke (pronounced poh-KAY, it’s a Hawaiian word meaning “to slice”) have been around for centuries. Native Hawaiians would gather seaweed from the reef and sea salt from the rocks as they fished, then dice up their catch.

The poke more commonly made today has been influenced by immigrants from various Asian countries, and is a mixture of raw, diced, marinated fish that is served over steamed rice and topped with other types of seafood, seaweed, special sauces and regional add-ons.

“Almost every restaurant on the islands has poke on their menu,” says Gevin Utrillo, chef de cuisine at Japengo restaurant, in the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. “You can see, smell and taste the cultural influences. The personality of each chef comes through in their poke.”

Recipe: Poke Bowl

Serves 4


Gochujang Aioli

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup gochujang paste
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp tamari
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar

Poke sauce

  • 1/4 cup sweet soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp tamari
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp pickled ginger puree

Poke + Bowl

  • 1 lb ahi yellowfin tuna, diced 1/2-inch
  • 2 oz lobster meat, cooked and chopped
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 oz thinly julienned sweet onion
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 oz ogo (seaweed), chopped
  • Steamed rice, for serving
  • Chili threads, for garnish


1. Stir all the aioli ingredients together; set aside. Do the same to make the poke sauce. To make the poke, combine the ahi and lobster, and the onions, avocado and ogo (reserving some or setting aside extra for garnish, if you like), and toss with the poke sauce.

2. To serve, drizzle some aioli in the bottom of a bowl, top with rice, poke mixture, and your choice of garnishes (onions, avocado and ogo, or whatever inspires you), and top with chili threads.


  • Source high-quality fish from a reputable fishmonger or market; ask them what they have that’s suitable for poke.
  • Not into seafood? For a plant-based poke, use tofu or blanched vegetables such as cauliflower or mushrooms.
[This story appears in the November 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine]