Did Maui Poke the Big Fish?

He did and he didn’t. According to the legend, Maui, demigod and a hero of Hawaiian folklore, had been mercilessly teased by his older brothers for being a poor fisherman. He kept  begging them to take him fishing, but they steadily refused. In one version of the legend, he hid in their canoe and revealed himself when they were already far into the blue waters of the Pacific.

In another one, beautifully rendered by Barbara Ker Wilson and Franc Lessac, he got fed up with bullying and rejection, grabbed his magic hook, and went out on his own. He did poke [po-uk] a huge fish, i.e. hooked it and pulled it out. And what a fish it was! Yet another version calls it a Great Eel, but we’ll stick to kosher fish. Unfortunately – or maybe fortunately! – he didn’t have a chance to POKE [po-kay] it because right in front of his eyes – poof! – it turned into a chain of islands, now known as Hawaii, with the main one called – you guessed it! – Maui.

The word poke means to cut crosswise, or slice, and the national Hawaiian dish is just that: filleted and sliced raw fish marinated in soy sauce, sea salt, sesame oil, scallions, and crushed kukui nuts (candlenuts). It’s a raw fish salad, served as an appetizer, lunch, or even main dish. Poke has become increasingly popular in the U.S. lately, and in various restaurants the basic marinade is enhanced by coconut milk and/or shredded coconut, red pepper flakes, dried or fresh seaweed, and even diced pineapple, for truly Hawaiian flavor.

Slmn poke 1.jpg

Even though original, centuries old Hawaiian recipe calls for Aku (Ahi) tuna, nowadays salmon is also widely used. Take a skinless filet and do what Maui never got to do – poke it. Slice your filet crosswise into bite size pieces.

Slmn poke 2.jpg

I use almost a classic marinade: soy sauce, sea salt, and sesame oil, but substitute sesame seeds for the symbol of Hawaii – kukui nuts.  I have seen suggestions to use macadamia nuts in many recipes that call for candlenuts (they look somewhat alike), and I tried, but didn’t like it. If you want to give it a try, remember, they have to be finely crushed, to the size of sesame seeds. Mix it all up, make sure your fish pieces are immersed, cover, and refrigerate for about twenty minutes, just enough to watch this delightful Disney movie.

That was just a clip, of course, but Maui was quite a character. He stopped the sun, he raised the sky, and he performed numerous other miracles for humanity. For each miracle, he earned a special animated tattoo, as you see in the movie. And you were wondering why surfers are covered with tattoos!

Slmn poke 3.jpg

The ancient Polynesian and Hawaiian fishermen apparently came up with this idea by simply using bits and pieces of fish left over after deboning and filleting to snack on. We are more sophisticated now, so we want a poke bowl. You can line it with any vegetables you want – you’ll still have a bowl. I prefer paper thin cucumber slices and red onion.

Slmn poke 4

Instead of incorporating scallions as a part of marinade, I use them for garnishing, supported by just a pinch of grated carrots for color. If you are using red pepper flakes, you might want to skip carrots altogether. I hope that while you are enjoying Maui’s fish, you remember his shining example of doing good deeds for humanity!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb salmon, skinless and filleted (alternatively, Ahi tuna)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • Coarsely ground sea salt to taste
  • 3 – 4 scallions
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated carrot
  • Alternatively, red pepper flakes to taste

PROCEDURE

  • Cut salmon into bite size pieces. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, sea salt. Mix well, cover, refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Line salad bowl with thinly sliced cucumber and red onion. Arrange marinated salmon bites.
  • Garnish with scallions, grated carrots and/or red pepper flakes.
  • Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

 

 

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50 Comments Add yours

    1. Thank you for reblogging.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Always with a great pleasure, and thank you very much for the wonderful stories around your recipes. 😉 Michael

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, you are too nice, Michael!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Its really a pleasure. You wont believe what i learned from your stories, i never heared before. Michael

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I am very happy to hear that, Michael! You just made my day!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You also make my day, with every posting you do. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  1. What a wonderful story. Now i know, not only in Japan they are eating raw fish. 😉 Have a nice week ahead!;-) Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Michael! Raw fish preparations exist in every country where there are poor fishermen, even in Russia. Have a wonderful week!

      Like

  2. Joëlle says:

    Hi Dolly! I didn’t know there were people other than the Japanese who ate raw fish. This version sounds interesting but you need the freshest of fish to make it, obviously. You are lucky to live near by the sea!
    Did you like the Disney movie? We watched it with my son and his wife a few months ago, and didn’t particularly enjoy it. Something not quite right about Maui, I thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Joelle, as with every raw fish preparation, you need the freshest of fish, of course, other than Russian “stroganina” which is frozen. I thought the movie was kind of cute, and I like Mauna. Maui, according to all legends, was an arrogant trickster, so the character is quite authentic. He was a son of a god and a mortal woman, and so offended gods by his attitude towards humans that they refused to grant him immortality. He then went out of his way trying to help people in order to earn their respect and gain immortality. For every good deed he got an animated tattoo, like a badge of honor, sort of. Unfortunately, he never earned immortality. He is considered a patron of surfers, and believe me, they emulate him very well!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. lghiggins says:

    Interesting recipe. It reminds me of the ceviche popular in Mexico–in the method of preparation. I love the appealing cover of the children’s book you included.

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    1. Thank you so much, Linda! Yes, poke is often confused with ceviche, but classic ceviche is marinated only in lime juice, and certainly without oil and nuts or seeds.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. sydspix says:

    Cute blog – enjoyed the Hawaiian references!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Syd, and thank you for stopping by! I think blog is awesome – glad to have found you.

      Like

  5. A_Boleyn says:

    I’ve read over several poke recipes in the past. I was even going to make some the last time I bought a small piece of sushi grade fresh ahi tuna but then I ended up making a couple of sushi dishes with it instead. Your inspiring post has reminded me of this dish and given me new enthusiasm to make it, one day soon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! You know, sushi grade tuna is not true, and the only fresh tuna is the one caught and cut in front of you, otherwise it is all defrosted. Basically, you judge by the color, uniformly dark red.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A_Boleyn says:

        I know, and that’s what I bought … a chunk that had been frozen while fresh. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am so happy that you know – not many people do, and I am constantly worried that readers will try to make sushi or any other raw fish dishes while endangering themselves.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. A_Boleyn says:

        This is why I like to buy small frozen pieces … there’s just me and of course you can’t re-freeze but it gives me the freedom to thaw it at my convenience. Years ago, I went to a local fish place that got shipments of actual fresh tuna that had been trucked in from Toronto in refrigerated trucks twice a week. I had to get there very early in the morning the next day, it cost an arm and a leg, and then I had to use it immediately.

        Here’s what I made the last time I bought some.

        https://aboleyn01.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/sashimi-grade-ahi-tuna-and-sushi-rolls/

        Like

      4. Yes, I also buy frozen tuna and salmon. Fortunately, snapper, trout, grouper, etc. are there for fishing.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. kelleysdiy says:

    i am going to try this! It looks delicious. I just enjoy all your stories and references! Thank you so much! You are such a special lady, whom I hope to meet with someday. We will drink our, what did you call it, beach something…the rum, watermelon and lime…AFTER we share a delicious meal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And my husband will catch us a snapper, and we’ll make ceviche, or a rainbow trout to throw on the grill, and we’ll swim with dolphins and dive with manatees!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. kelleysdiy says:

        Ohh how wonderful!!! Where is this where you swim with the dolphins? Don’t let them take you away into deep waters!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. First of all, I swim like a fish – I literally grew up swimming – and I am not afraid of “deep waters.” Secondly, we sail in the bay, mostly to the keys and back, so it’s not really deep, and dolphins are not dumb either; they don’t venture into great depth.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. kelleysdiy says:

        I have swam like a fish since I was 3 years old. Love the water! I used to go with my dad on his boat to fish, and going down to Mexico. It was so much fun. I remember the breeze blew off my white sailors hat in the ocean. My dad held me and said that I have made the fishes happy. They have a nice home now! Of course I fell for it!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. How sweet – making the fishes happy! Your dad was a wise man. My dad carried me on his back to the depth marker that designated the deepest level swimmers were allowed to go since I was 1. When I turned 5, he carried me to the marker, dropped me into the water, and said, “You’re big and heavy now, you can swim back on your own.” And so I did.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. kelleysdiy says:

        hahaa…Oh my…that’s worse than throwing a kid in the pool!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes and no, because he was right there, next to me, and it made me feel safe, so I am not scared of depth.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. kelleysdiy says:

        …or drowning.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Yeah, how could you drown in water when it’s holding you up? I never understood!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. kelleysdiy says:

        When you get tired, and can’t doggie paddle or swim anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Then you turn on your back and rest, and the water holds you. I had a cousin (may he rest in peace) whose hobby was deep water diving. He used to say that you have to be careful because water us not our natural habitat, but as long as we stay on top of it, it will hold us safely.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. kelleysdiy says:

        That’s cool!

        Liked by 1 person

      12. kelleysdiy says:

        But he knew you could!

        Liked by 1 person

      13. kelleysdiy says:

        Dad’s gotta love em!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Adding sesame seeds is a great choice. Looks so delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi I’ve always wondered how to make this -thanks for the reminder. Have a great weekend. Therese

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Therese! You too have a great weekend,
      Dolly

      Like

  9. Delightful tales with yummy food! Another great share!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I am so glad you like it!

      Like

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