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Cook Your Catch: Bluefin Tuna Poke with Ali Hussainy

This flavorful Hawaiian staple will have your tastebuds singing.

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Poke (pronounced po-kay) is a Hawaiian dish of diced raw fish, typically served with rice and seasoned in a variety of ways. And while poke has been around for much longer, it’s popularity in North America took off within the past 10 years or so. In every major city across the U.S., you’ll surely find restaurants that focus exclusively on the dish as well as a number of others that, due to its popularity, have added it to their menus.

The traditional Hawaiian poke combines fish with sea salt, inamona (a paste made with roasted candlenuts) and limu (a Polynesian term for an array of edible seaweed).

For this recipe, Mercury Pro Team member Capt. Ali Hussainy, co-founder of the online fishing and outdoors magazine BD Outdoors and co-host of the fishing show “Local Knowledge” on Waypoint TV, takes a beautiful piece of farm-raised bluefin tuna from his friends at California Offshore Products and combines it with some Asian seasonings, jalapeño, fish eggs and some other fresh ingredients for a savory, heart-healthy dish bursting with flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh bluefin tuna steak
  • ½ medium-sized white onion
  • ½ - 1 jalapeño
  • 1 heaping teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • Togarashi (Japanese chili spice mix), to taste
  • Sesame oil, to taste
  • Soy sauce, to taste
  • Roasted sesames seeds
  • White sushi rice
  • 1 - 2 avocados
  • Masago, to taste
  • 2 - 3 green onions
  • Sriracha, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Preparation

Begin by preparing some sushi rice. Sushi rice is made from Japanese short-grain rice and is seasoned with a little vinegar and sugar and comes out much stickier than your traditional long-grain rice. If you aren’t able to find sushi rice in your local grocery store, you should be able to secure some in the nearest Asian market or specialty food store. Be sure to follow the directions on the package for the number of people you’ll be serving.

With the rice on the stove, slice the tuna into strips and then into ½-inch cubes. When all the tuna has been cubed, put it into a bowl and pop it into the freezer to allow the fish to firm up a bit while you’re preparing the rest of the dish.

Next, cut the onion into thin slices. Do the same with the jalapeño. Keep in mind that most of the heat in a jalapeño is in the seeds and the white membrane inside the pepper. That’s because the bulk of the compound capsaicin is located in the seeds and membrane. And it’s the capsaicin that provides the heat. So, if you like things fiery, don’t discard any of that. But if your tongue is a bit more sensitive to spicy foods, you might want to consider removing some, if not all, of the seeds and membrane. Or you can split the difference for a heat level somewhere in the middle of mild and wild.

Remove the bowl of bluefin from your freezer and add the sliced onion and jalapeño. Next, add a heaping teaspoon of chili garlic sauce. Then, add some freshly ground sea salt. For this recipe, Hussainy uses a Hawaiian dark sea salt, but any sea salt will do nicely.

Things should be really coming together nicely at this point. But there’s still more opportunity to dial up the complexity of the flavors. And sprinkling some togarashi into the bowl will do just that. Togarashi is a spicy Japanese chili seasoning, and like some of the other ingredients in this dish, it can be found at a Japanese or Asian market or even some high-end grocery stores with a decent selection of international foods.

After you add the togarashi, crack some black pepper on top to taste and drizzle in some sesame oil. A little goes a long way with sesame oil, so be careful to not add too much. Next, sprinkle some roasted sesame seed into the bowl. At this point, Hussainy recommends allowing the ingredients to mingle together before you plate it. So, if you can resist all those amazing aromas, cover your bowl, and put it in the fridge for an hour or so.

After you’ve allowed all the ingredients to mingle for a while, remove the bowl from your refrigerator and add some soy sauce and sliced green onion.

At this point, your rice should be fully cooked. Put some into your serving bowls and spoon some of the poke on top. And if you like the earthy nuttiness of roasted sesame seeds, sprinkle some more on top.

Next, add a spoonful or two of fresh masago. Bright and clean with the taste of the ocean, masago are the tiny orange roe (eggs) of the capelin fish. Like the togarashi and the sushi rice, you’ll probably need to visit an Asian market to find masago. In some cases, you may even have to see if a nearby sushi restaurant will sell you some. But the taste is well worth the effort.

With the orange glow of the masago topping your dish, the only thing left to add to your poke is some sliced avocado and (if you like) a squeeze of sriracha. Alive with flavors and textures, bluefin poke is the perfect combination of protein, carbs and yum, so gather the troops and dig in!

For more great recipes by some of the world’s foremost anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, search “Cook Your Catch” in the Mercury Dockline Blog.

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Cook Your Catch: Bluefin Tuna Poke with Ali Hussainy
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