Step aside, sushi. There’s a new fish in town. Hawaiian poké (pronounced poh-kay) is proving to be one of those rare food trends with real staying power, and after several years of surging popularity on the West Coast, poké mania has continued to spread throughout the lower 48.
But if you haven’t tried the trend yet, you might be wondering…what in the heck is poké?!
Well…it’s raw fish. Yep, it’s uncooked! There was a time when consuming raw seafood would have been unthinkable here on the mainland, but thanks to sushi and sashimi, the American palate is primed for poké. We’ve been sushi-crazed since the 1980s, and poké is the logical next frontier for our sushi obsession.
Just like sushi, poké is made from sashimi-grade seafood to ensure a safe, fresh, and most importantly, delicious eating experience. The fish, often salmon or tuna, is sliced into bite-sized chunks and served chilled with tasty accoutrements, like soy sauce, sriracha, wasabi, edamame, seaweed, mango, and rice.
In Hawaiian, poké is a verb meaning “to slice or cut crosswise,” and historians believe the name came from the local custom of slicing off a bit of the day’s fresh catch and enjoying it straight out of the ocean as a snack. The more creative fishermen would add a little ornamentation with whatever they had available — maybe a splash of soy sauce, or a piece of seaweed for a salty garnish — for a simple snack ready in seconds.
When you have access to ocean-fresh seafood like Pacific Islanders do, eating raw fish is a no-brainer! Hawaiians have done it for generations, but the name is new; this usage of the word poké has only emerged in the last 50 years.
These days, poké is an everyday staple for Hawaiian locals. It’s not a fancy dish, and the most popular place to get it is…the grocery store! Poké is a go-to classic at cookouts, luaus, and parties, and it’s frequently sold by the pound.
Considering its current cachet on the mainland, it’s funny to think about super-trendy poké as the potato salad of Hawaiian family gatherings. But that’s the true essence of poké! No frills, no fuss — just fresh ingredients and crowd-pleasing flavors, perfect for a quick bite or a special occasion.
Poké joins a long list of deliciously simple imports, like sushi, burritos, and ramen that have fueled red-hot food trends and spread across the country like wildfire. For better and for worse, these dishes have evolved as their popularity surged. (Case in point: sushi burritos!) And poké is no different. Many mainland poké creations feature fusion flavors outside the usual Hawaiian tradition, and some purveyors add a not-quite-authentic accent mark (poké) as a little nudge to help with pronunciation.
With or without the accent mark, we think poké is pretty much perfect. EAT Club is proud to deliver top-quality, flavor-packed poké straight to your desk. Whether you’re a poké newbie or an old pro, we think you’ll love these tasty lunches stacked with fresh veggies, healthy fats, and dairy-free deliciousness. It’s a whole lot of goodness in every bowl — and the closest you can get to Hawaii in one lunch break.
Ready to savor the many splendors of raw seafood? We’ve got options! From poké bowls to bento boxes, try these refreshing dishes for your summer lunch rotation:
Have you taken the poke plunge? Tell us about your favorite poke pairings below!