Friday, July 14, 2017

DIY Hawaiian Poke Bowl...

Poke pronounced "POH-keh" is trend-setting the food scene in Toronto, and for good reason. First it was maki sushi-style burritos and now it's all the same fresh makings in a poke bowl. Healthy, delicious and customizable, this Hawaiian dish is a favourite for native Hawaiians and has been around for centuries.

Poking (haha pun intended) late at night on Yelp for interesting downtown restaurants my eyes immediately transfixed on images of eye-popping vibrant fresh poke bowls, and I couldn't help salivating. The gorgeous cascade of raw salmon and tuna cubes over rice with a heap of sublime avocado beautifully bespeckled by green onions and sesame seeds had my taste buds in yearning. Forget waiting to go downtown, I must have this the next day. Not much different than making DIY sushi rolls (which we have occasionally), I was gung ho to make it happen. The only concern was finding ripe avocados on the spot. And I scored-- for a price at $3.29 each, but what the hey, when inspiration strikes you do whatever it takes :D. While it may look complicated it really is super simple. Pick up fresh ingredients, do a little prep, cook the rice and you're set to have your own fun make-your-own poke bowl.

Reading down the menu of ingredients offered at the place of my inspiration Poke Box, I rendered a list for shopping. 
Here is the assortment of things I used to customize our rice bowls.

sushi rice (see below for preparations)
fresh sushi-grade salmon and tuna, cubed
imitation crab meat sticks, shredded by hand
flying fish eggs (masago)
ripe avocados, cubed
edamame beans (shelled)
green onions, sliced
alfalfa or pea sprouts
Japanese seasoned seaweed salad
spring mix or torn lettuce leaves
fried onions
wasabi peas

sushi ginger
toasted sesame seed

wasabi paste
ponzu citrus sauce

unagi eel sauce (sweet glaze)
soy sauce
Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise
Sriracha hot sauce
furikake (nori rice seasoning)

The most important element in sushi is always the rice-- vinegared rice. You can also cook the rice without the kelp and forgo the vinegar mixture. I like to make mine as authentic as possible for the best taste experience. To prepare:

Vinegared Rice for Sushi
Serves 4 to 6

3 cups short-grain rice
4-inch kombu kelp
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Soak the kelp in water for about one hour to make stock for the rice. Wash the rice 30 minutes prior to cooking and drain in a strainer. Meanwhile, put the vinegar, sugar and salt into a small pot and heat slightly until dissolved.

Place the rice and kelp stock into a rice cooker and cook. When cooking is finished, keep the cooker covered and let stand for about ten minutes until the grains are settled.

Transfer the rice into a large shallow bowl (wooden if you have is best), moistened with a little water. Sprinkle the vinegar dressing all over the rice. Using a flat paddle or wooden spoon, toss the rice with horizontal, cutting strokes while cooling rice with a hand-fan. Cover the rice with a clean towel until ready to serve.

* Use only a sideway cutting motion when mixing the vinegar dressing otherwise the rice will become mushy.
* Wooden bowls eliminate excess moisture of cooked rice and keep grains firm.
* Use electric fan to cool rice-- expose rice to breeze while mixing the rice for best results.

You can serve the fish raw on its own or dress it up. For the salmon I simply sprinkled some sea salt and a splash of lemon juice. For the tuna, I marinated it with a mixture of ponzu, soy and sesame oil.

Set everything out on the table and invite your family and guests over to start topping.

Serving the meal with some Korean side dishes of marinated spicy radish strips and dried anchovies.

A little Furikake seasoning goes a long way in flavouring.

My excited son Etienne's poke bowl.

1-2-3, where your bowl goes nobody knows....

Whatever fits your fancy, top to your heart's content!

Indeed a kaleidoscope of colours, flavours and textures!

Love the final touch of kewpie mayonnaise and sriracha.

Wasabi peas for crunch and bite! POW!

Mix it up! A bowl you can eat with chopsticks and a spoon!

Try creating this for your family and friends. It sure makes a great refreshing summer entertaining party theme that is sure to please! Just prep it, set it and let your guests take care of the rest. :D

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