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Poke: the world’s newest fast food

Photo by Matt Dutile/Hawai’i Magazine

Hawaii’s favorite raw-fish dish is exploding in popularity around the world, from Los Angeles to London to Sydney. But what exactly is it, how is it different to other raw-fish dishes and why has it suddenly become so popular?

What is it?
For those of you who don’t know, poke is a traditional Hawaiian food. The dish has existed on the Hawaiian islands for hundreds of years, and it’s pronounced poh-keh.

Loosely translated from Hawaiian, poke means “to cut into pieces” in English. So it should come as no surprise that poke is typically seasoned chunks of raw-fish served over rice. Most frequently yellowfin tuna (aka ahi) is the fish of choice, but any fish you’d use for sushi can be used for poke.


What makes it different?
While poke is seasoned and dressed to order, the pieces of fish used to make ceviche are cured in citrus juice for a period of time, which gives the flesh a more acidic kick and firmer texture. And as for fish tartare, the fish is diced into much smaller pieces than it is for poke.


Why has it become so popular?
In my eyes, poke encapsulates three of society’s current obsessions and it’s this magnificent combination that has propelled its global popularity.

1. Hawaii
In case you hadn’t noticed, Hawaii has suddenly become hot stuff!
Hawaii-themed restaurants are popping up everywhere, modern aloha prints are in high demand and the number of visitors to the islands is growing exponentially.

2. Fast-Casual Dining
We live in a world full of time-poor people; and restaurateurs are capitalising on this. The nature of poke allows poke bowls to be fast food, and diners can mix ‘n’ match bases, sauces and toppings!

3. Healthy Food
It’s not rocket science, and it’s not new – we are always striving for healthy foods. And few things are as healthy and taste as satisfying as poke.


The Do’s & Don’t’s of poke

Don’t say it like “okay”, or even worse, the word used to describe prodding someone with a finger. It’s pronounced poh-keh.

Don’t write it with an accent – it’s written poke NOT poké.

Do try your poke bowl as take away. Poke bowls travel well and are easily transportable (and if it gets tossed around a bit in transit, all it will do is mix and mash the flavours together!)


Where to find poke
I did attempted to source the best poke locations globally so each and every one of you could give it a go – but the list got too big too quickly… So, my recommendation is that you turn to Google to find your closest poke location!

Alternatively, you could always try this amazing traditional dish in Hawaii – get yourself to global to experience it first hand!

We’d love to know where your favourite spots are, and what you thought of the dish – share your thoughts on our Facebook page here.

About the Author
Becca is an avid traveller, a trained copywriter and one of Australia’s leading video marketers. As a creative content producer she’s pumped to be engaging, entertaining and intriguing the FCTG nations with written and visual communications in the run up to Global.