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Best Ahi Poke Recipe

Best Ahi Poke Recipe

The classic Hawaiian ahi poke features raw tuna with soy sauce (shoyu), garlic, and onion. It’s rich and buttery, perfect with rice or as an appetizer!

Poke is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Taking one bite is an explosion in your mouth. You get the silky, buttery texture of the ahi tuna (and you wonder if you actually did bite into butter). There’s the sharp umami of the soy sauce, the crunch of the onion, the pungent ginger, and that sexy garlicky essence…really, there’s nothing like it! Poke is a Hawaiian food that’s become increasingly popular here in the US. Here’s what you need to know about how to make ahi poke at home!

Looking for a poke bowl with rice & veggies? Go to our classic Poke Bowl Recipe.Cooking for plant based eaters too? Make Vegan Poke.

What’s poke? And what’s shoyu ahi poke?

Poke means “to slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces in Hawaiian. It refers to the raw fish that’s cut into cubes. It originated from Hawaiian fisherman who would season leftover parts of their catch for a snack! Poke is a Hawaiian-American food, but much of its flavor is influenced by Japanese cuisine: soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil.

You can make poke out of any raw fish, like raw salmon or octopus. But the most popular fish used for poke is yellowfin tuna or ahi tuna. You’ll see this called ahi poke or tuna poke. What is shoyu ahi poke? Shoyu is the word for soy sauce in Japanese, so shoyu ahi poke means poke made with ahi tuna and soy sauce. Basically, they’re all words for the same thing!

Use sushi or sashimi grade ahi tuna!

The most important part of ahi poke is…you guessed it, the ahi tuna! You’ll want to find the very best ahi tuna you can find. If you’re making this recipe, we’ll assume you’re also a fan of sushi. You’ll be using the same quality of fish used at your favorite sushi joint: labeled for use for either sushi or sashimi (the raw fish served without rice). Here are a few things to keep in mind when you buy tuna for poke:

  • Buy ahi tuna that is marked sushi or sashimi grade.
  • Depending on your grocery store, this could be in the frozen fish area or at the fish counter.
  • If you aren’t sure, confirm with the store that this fish is safe to eat raw.

What’s in ahi poke?

So what’s in poke? It’s very simple, and the quality will 100% depend on the quality of your ahi tuna. Once you’ve got your fish, you’ll marinade it in a mixture that includes:

  • Sushi or sashimi grade ahi tuna (also called yellowfin), cubed
  • Sweet yellow onion (similar to the traditional Maui onion), sliced
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil (plain, not toasted)
  • Ginger, minced
  • Garlic, minced
  • Sriracha 

Marinading your tuna poke (and a shortcut!)

To get the flavor fully infused into the ahi poke, most recipes call for at least 1 hour of marinade time. But what if you want to eat it right away? Alex and I tasted our ahi poke right away, after 30 minutes, and after 1 hour to see how the flavor changed. Here’s the down-low on marinading:

  • Right away: The flavor actually tastes incredible right away! It’s very forward and beautifully strong. If you’re in a time crunch, dig right in.
  • 30 minutes: Marinading even 15 to 30 minutes rounds out the flavor.
  • 1 hour: If you have the time, marinade for 1 hour: the flavors really permeate the fish! After you marinade, you’ll need to taste and add a little salt to bring out the flavor since the soy will have faded a bit.

How to serve ahi poke

There are two main ways to serve ahi poke: as an appetizer, and as a poke bowl!

  • Appetizer: You can serve the fish straight up as an appetizer. Serve the bowl and everyone can dig in with chopsticks, or in small dishes. Or serve with plantain chips for dipping!
  • Poke Bowl: Here’s our Poke Bowl recipe! There are lots of ways to make a poke bowl, but it’s usually served with short grain rice and lots of crunchy raw veggies.

Other great poke recipes

Want more ideas? There are great resources from Hawaiian chefs:

  • Sam Choy’s Hawaiian Style Poke A recipe from the “grandfather of Hawaiian cuisine” himself.
  • Poke Recipes from Fix Feast Flair Our friend Alana of Fix Feast Flair and cookbook author of Aloha Kitchen has several great poke recipes on her website! See also: this fantastic Maki Sushi recipe she shared with us from the book.

This recipe is…

Pescatarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free.