Food History

Come On, You Call that Poke: Everything Wrong with the “Poke Trend”

Object Title: Study of Hawaiian Fish. Date: 1898 Artist: Hubert Vos Active: American, 1855 – 1935

Just because you have bits of raw fish, it does not make it poke. Just like a beard and tattoo’s does not make you hip (that’s just the hipster starter kit).

Haole AF

I get it, you businesses want to make money and cash in (on “the trend”), but some of you have no eff’n clue what you’re doing. I mean, you can easily google what poke is, but your “dun-give-a-fok-about-it” mentality and the whole “choose how you want it” craze is what is further contributing towards the bastardization of poke. Why do I care? Because legit Hawaiian poke is fock’n delicious and not a trend.

Da Hawaiian Roots

“Poke” (po-KEH) is what the real stuff is called, but all the other B.S. spots should be called “poke” (pohk or poke-ee) or “pooky” because what they’re doing never had any Hawaiian origins. There’s nothing left of the culture or how it was rooted in a snack for fisherman in Hawaii who would eat their catch with sea salt, kukui (candlenuts), and limu (seaweed).

Hanalei_Fishermen,_Hawaii_,_hand_colored_etching_by_Charles_W._Bartlett,_c._1923Poke later had influence from the Japanese and other Asian cultures which later used soy sauce, onions, and ate it with rice (donburi style).

The Various Styles of #Poke to #Pooky

The OG Hawaiian Poke

  • Chopped fish
  • Kukui nuts
  • Sea salt

Contemporary Style of Legit Hawaiian Poke

  • Chopped fish
  • Shoyu (soy sauce)
  • Chopped negi (green onions)
  • Kukui nuts (candlenuts) or/and sesame oil
  • Sliced Maui onions
  • Limu or ogo (seaweed)
  • Sea salt

Haole “Pooky” (all the bastardized mainland fockers)

  • Any raw seafood all thrown together (shaped like a donut) with all sorts of toppings from edamame, seaweed, quinoa, kale/salad greens, bok choy, to mayo and any number of “oriental” sauces like sweet’n’sour.

All Raw Fish is Not Poke

There isn’t just one type of dish that utilizes raw fish, yet everything gets labeled as poke because it’s an easy way to market your business even if it perpetuates dumb. I mean you can do whatever the hell you want, but even Pizza Hut and Taco Bell have enough sense to not call themselves “Italian” or “Mexican.”

Aside from just poke (below), there are also the following types of raw fish dishes that you can market your product after, so that you can ruin more than one culture:

1. Real Ono Hawaiian Poke

A Hawaiian dude with some slippahs somewhere just shed a tear drop looking at your Yelp’s pics because it didn’t look like the stuff below.

160323_poke_spread_foodland_db1ddbaf32e9dcdd7ce911461e00b0d6.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpg
Various types of poke: Foodland Supermarket in Hawaii

2. Chirashi

The Japanese way of using sliced bits of fish, vegetable, and other ingredients on top of a bowl of sushi rice (meaning vinegared, not that Murican stuff with plain rice you’ve been eating in your orgasm roll with spicy mayo slathered all over).

Chirashi-zushi
Chirashi with egg, crab, tuna, salmon, salmon eggs, oba shiso on top of sushi rice.

3. Ceviche

A latin American and Caribbean dish that typically consists of raw fish, citrus juice, chili’s, and cilantro. Yea, Latins like it raw too, but they got tang… citrus tang.

Best_Ceviche_Ever_(Lima,_Peru)
This ceviche is made with white fish, octopus, citrus, and onions

4. Hoe/hwe (what up my hoe’s)

Korean style dish of raw seafood… oh, Koreans got their hoe’s in different area codes, but the most popular is probably the live octopus/san-naki. (I have a video eating it live cuz “sensationalism”).

Korean.cuisine-Sannakji.hoe-01
A bunch of hoe in the form of octopus

5. Yusheng

A Chinese style involving raw fish tossed together with other ingredients. Also before you start your Yusheng’rito bar, check out this article on the cuisine.

Singapore_Yusheng
Yusheng or lo hei in Cantonese

6. Others:

There are several other raw dishes like Italian crudo or tartare, but I won’t tell you about them all, otherwise you might bastardize it as the next food trend.

Real Hawaiian Poke Places

If you’re going to support one out of a million poke businesses to pop up recently, I highly suggest you find an authentic poke restaurant which is getting harder and harder to distinguish from because they’re all trying to play themselves off as “Hawaiian.” Unfortunately, they’re straight out haole, but the places below are some of the only authentic poke places, and I’d show these places some love if want to experience the culture through Hawaiian cuisine.

“California Inspired”

Also, at the very least, I’d say look out for these type of businesses that are in the know that say that say that they’re “California inspired poke (or wherever they are located)”, that right there means they know what’s up, and I give them props for citing that or knowing how to google.

For the best poke, these are the spots so far… yea the short list. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Honolulu, Hawaii

SoCal

West Coast
I haven’t tried out all of these spots, but they might be worth checking out.

Make it Yourself
there’s only a few good sites, but here are the ones I trust:


Adam Will Let You Know How You Are Continuing to Ruin Hawaii

K’den

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