Monday, February 02, 2009

Ahi Poke Tower! and Wahoo Potato Cakes

Ello has been asking me, ok she asked me once, to post a Hawaiian recipe. I haven't done all that much that's Hawaiian. I got my butter mochi going and I've done some spam musubi, but that's about it that's classic Hawaiian, but now I've done a...

Ahi Poke Tower!!

OK, not exactly a tower. It's my first try and ahem, well, let's go back to the beginning.

Ahi is tuna. Poke means chopped up chunks and poke is the most popular way I'd say to eat fish in Hawaii. You can get ahi poke in tons of different flavors, (shoyu = soy, oyster sauce, limu, spicy, etc.) salmon poke, tako=octopus poke, shrimp poke, crab poke, and even tofu poke. It's also completely raw. You get a sashimi grade block of ahi and cube it up. Actually, you can just buy it at any grocery store already poke-ed and flavored, which is what we do.

Took me a while to warm up to poke even though I have a pretty broad palate. It is chunks of raw fish after all. No rice or anything like sushi. Just fish, and we don't do that kinda thing in northern Louisiana much, y' hear?. But I slowly learned to add some to a salad. You can also get pan-seared ahi in lots of restaurants and I'd recommend that for the person who might be trying to work themselves up to it, but not sure they really want to eat straight poke. It's flash fried or whatever so that the inside is still raw and the outsides are cooked.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, we went out for Saturday lunch to Uncle's Fish Market here in Honolulu. Good place, but too expensive. However, they have a very yummy poke tower that was one of the first times I really enjoyed poke instead of just getting by with it. So I wanted to recreate my own tower here.

Here are the ingredients:

This is a slightly weird version, but not too crazy. It's very Hawaiian because of the mix of cultures in the dish. We've got the Hawaiian poke, an avocado and salsa, giving a sort of Southwestern / Californian feel, some Furikake seasoning (seaweed) from Japan, and some Korean sesame seeds. I've also got a leaf of shredded lettuce in there. But don't put lettuce in yours because you just can't make a tower with a lettuce layer. It will fall apart. I know.

Then you just layer everything. According to recipes I found, you're supposed to have this ring thing that you stuff. I had no such thing, so I found a bowl that wasn't too wide and made do. Anyway, take your bowl and stuff 1/3 lb. of ahi poke in there. Next a layer of salsa. Then a layer of sliced and diced avocado. I then sprinkled some furikake and sesame seeds on the top/bottom. After each layer press down pretty hard to try to make a compact unit. I then covered the top with a couple pieces of construction paper and flipped it. You can serve it on chips (these are Tostito's tortilla chips) or wonton strips (just take some wonton wrapper, slice them up, and throw them in hot oil for 5 seconds). Uncle's fish market finished off with a layer of rice at the bottom of the tower, but both N and I preferred the chips, and so I left the rice out.

Here it is flipped but not removed with a nice circle of chips

And then you slowly lift up the bowl to reveal....

that every layer below the lettuce fell out in a nice tower, the lettuce goes everywhere, and the poke layer is stuck to the top/bottom of the bowl. And you scoop it out and have a nice poke salad!

Moral of the story. Don't put in lettuce. You can actually think of this as a very Hawaiian-style nachos. Avocado, salsa, and a meat on top of chips. The mean just happens to be raw tuna and you've got some seaweed flakes hiding in there.

If you follow the Uncle's link above, you can see their tower. Here's a link to a full recipe at a blog and here's a link to Sam Choy (the famous Hawaiian chef)'s recipe (no pic).

In news that's more palatable to a mainland palate, N got busy at the same time with some Wahoo potato patty things. She went to American Samoa for work a few months ago. The main industry there is canning the tuna from the Pacific fleet. Apparently, the tuna nets also catch some smaller fish called the Wahoo, which all her hosts in Samoa insist is far superior to canned tuna. And so they sent her back with tons of cans of Wahoo. Anyway, she adapted some salmon cake recipe. These things involved grating a few potatoes, some parsley, some wahoo, some bread crumbs, and that's all I know. Here they are pre-cooked

And cooked

Shhh... Don't tell her, but these might be the best of the things we've been cooking. So N and I were eating poke towers and wahoo cakes. What about B? Did he try? He had fish, too, actually.

Gordon's fish sticks. The Hawaiian delicacy found in your freezer aisle near the waffles.


Ello said...

Hey back to back recipes! Very cool!

You know that raw fish salad reminds me of hwe dup bap. Which I absolutely love. It is an amalgam of raw fish thrown over a bed of rice, lettuce, ginger, cucumbers, etc. and mixed with hot korean pepper paste. It is so very yummy - like a sushi salad mixed with rice and nice and spicy.

I thought the salmon cakes looked yummy!

Robin S. said...

Those potato patties look AMAZING. I love potato goodies - if you don't want to tell N they were my faves, that's OK!

Also, the voice thing is on for next Thursday, Feb 12th.