Poke is a refreshing Hawaiian fresh fish salad that has really caught on fire across the nation with Poke quick serve restaurants popping up around the corners of every city. Poke has quickly gained popularity because of its low calorie, fat-free appeal with increasingly health-conscious diners.
So what exactly is this dish everyone is raving about? Poke is a sashimi-grade tuna that’s been cubed and dressed with soy sauce, sesame oil and sliced onions or scallions. It can either be served with fried wonton chips or over seasoned rice with toppings such as sliced avocados, seaweed salad, furikake (a spiced dried seaweed mix), fried garlic chips, edamame and sesame seeds. Poke is eaten as a snack or appetizer but can be made into a Poke bowl to be served as a meal. Many variations of fish, shrimp, scallops, krab or octopus can be added to the mix and sauces customized to include creamy mayo-based or spicy wasabi-based ones as well.
Sashimi-grade fish is a term used to denote that the fish is fresh and has been handled properly so that foodservice operators can rest assured that the fish is safe as it has been frozen properly (low enough and long enough) to destroy any parasites the fish may be harboring. After you purchase this fish from your local fishmonger or closest Japanese market or even online, keep it iced and use it within the same day for the ultimate freshness. If you are catering offsite, remember to keep all raw fish below 40°F. The best way to transport fresh fish would be with a food pan in an insulated transporter. Depending on the volume of fish, try one of Cambro’s top loading carriers, the UPCSS160, which can accommodate a 4” deep food pan with a Camchiller on the top, to keep the fish nicely and safely chilled. For multiple pans of fish try either the UPC300 or UPC400 Ultra Pan Carrier which can hold three or five 2 1/2” deep pans together with a Camchiller. For these front loading carriers remember to place the Camchiller at the topmost rail so cold air, which is heavier, can drop down onto your food pans.
Poke has definitely transitioned into the catering world in a big way. At the Art of Catering Food held in Washington DC recently, Executive Chef Robin Selden of posh Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning in Stamford, CT, demonstrated fresh ideas for incorporating poke preparations into catering menus and stations.
From her presentation, entitled “Step Aside Ceviche, Let’s Do the Hokey Poke,” we are sharing with you some of her slides on how to capitalize on this fresh trend with you below: