Quick Tako Poke

By • May 2, 2011 • 17 Comments



Author Notes: Poke (POE-keh), meaning to “slice or cut crosswise into pieces” in Hawaiian, is a raw fish or seafood appetizer that is a local staple. Once, when planning an event at my old job, I was told that one way to rate the success of a local gathering in Hawai`i is by the quality and quantity of the poke. Thank goodness, I had already ordered a few pounds of ahi poke for the event! It is true; poke is ubiquitous at parties in Hawai`i, and available in a dizzying variety that reflects the multiple cultures that have come to call Hawai`i home (especially Asian). Utilizing every possible fish (tuna, octopus, shrimp, salmon, and then some - tofu) as the main ingredient, poke is typically seasoned with shoyu (soy sauce), limu (seaweed), sea salt, inamona (roasted kukui nut paste) and chili. However, the basic gist is a savory combination of salty and spicy to contrast the raw fish, so the choices for flavor/ingredient combinations are endless.

The only way I have ever eaten octopus, or tako, is in poke, and like with shrimp poke, the tako is always cooked. Here is my version. It is soft and pleasantly chewy, with a bright sour burst from the tamarind and lemon, warm earthy notes from the sesame and a whisper of heat from the gochujang. Enjoy it alone as an appetizer or with hot rice as a meal. Any variety of poke goes really well with your favorite frosty brew.

Note: At the Japanese market where I bought my tako (which came from Japan), it was already cooked. If I am able to find it fresh frozen, I will report on the cooking of it. Otherwise, check your Japanese/Asian markets for already cooked tako and making this is a snap! - gingerroot
gingerroot

Food52 Review: After reading about cooking octopus, I was more than a little intimidated. Luckily gingerroot's version of tako poke eliminates the need by using precooked octopus -- no 20 minute octopus massage required! The flavorful sauce comes together quickly, and while it is cooling you can slice the octopus and green onions. I wasn't sure if I would like the texture of the octopus, but I agree with gingerroot's assessment of it as pleasantly chewy. It makes a great canvas for the well-balanced flavors of the sauce. This recipe is a great introduction to octopus for the somewhat timid, and delicious enough to please any tako lover. - hardlikearmourhardlikearmour

Serves 1 if they really love tako, 2 as a light meal, 3 as an appetizer

  • 1/2 pound cooked tako (I had a good sized arm), thinly sliced, on the bias, into coins
  • 1/3 cup green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 heaping teaspoon gochujang (Korean fermented soy/chili paste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 2 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon wheat-free tamari (can substitute soy sauce if necessary)
  • 2-3 teaspoons roasted black sesame seeds
  1. In a small bowl, combine gochujang, tamarind paste, and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Stir to combine.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oils in a small skillet. Add gochujang mixture and using a heatproof spoon, combine with oils to make a sauce. Let the mixture bubble for a moment or two, before adding tamari. Stir to incorporate and remove skillet from heat. Let sauce cool for five minutes.
  3. Place sliced tako in a bowl. Add sliced green onions, cooled sauce, and reserved teaspoon of lemon juice. Stir to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator at least an hour and up to overnight. Stir in black sesame seeds before serving. Enjoy with that cold beer, if so inclined.
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Tags: dairy-free, Hawaiian, japanese, lunch, octopus, savory, squid, tako

Comments (17) Questions (0)

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about 3 years ago dymnyno

I think that poke is a hard sell, especially to New York and Brooklyn! This looks delicious!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, dymnyno! I knew you were a poke fan (was thrilled when I discovered your poke recipe a while back), and would love to hear your thoughts about this if you try it.

Me

about 3 years ago wssmom

As always, lovely and wonderful and fascinating!!!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thank you so much, wssmom! I hope you'll give it a try!

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about 3 years ago VanessaS

This sounds delicious, and really makes me want to go to Hawaii!

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thank you, VanessaS! I hope you'll give this a try.

Mrs._larkin_370

about 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Sounds so exotic! Well done, gingerroot! Is the gochujang like miso, only spicy?

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, mrslarkin! Yes, although I've never thought about it like that before, it has the same texture of miso and fermented flavor, although not as salty, with a dark heat that lingers.

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about 3 years ago themissingingredient

Yes, I have hiked Haleakala. The two volcanos are totally different. West Maui is a verdant paradise complete with a rain forest, rare orchids and wild pigs
and Haleakala is barren, volcanic, cold and usually windy.(but an easy drive)

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

I hiked Haleakala when I was five (well, mostly rode on my dad's shoulders) and then again about ten years ago. While I loved the almost other worldly feeling of Haleakala (those silverswords!) the West Maui mountains sound amazing and I am adding them to my list!

Dscn0624

about 3 years ago themissingingredient

We hiked on private property. Our host was the head of Maui Water . You might have to do some research on places to hike up there because so much of it is private .

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about 3 years ago Midge

Oh man, this sounds amazing. I love having a window into Hawaiian food culture with your posts.

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, Midge! The funny thing is I have only started to appreciate poke in the last five or so years of my life. I was never a big raw fish or seafood kind of person (probably because my mom does not like raw fish/seafood and my dad is allergic to shellfish) but started to crave it after my son was born. If you can get your hands on cooked tako, I hope you give this a try!

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about 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

This sounds beyond fabulous! Maybe I can come to your next dinner party ;)

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thanks, hardlikearmour! You, my friend, are welcome anytime. : )

Dscn0624

about 3 years ago themissingingredient

Oh! I love Hawaii!! Your poke sounds delicious and if I can find another octopus, I am going to make your version.

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about 3 years ago gingerroot

Thanks so much, themissingingredient! I would love to hear your thoughts if you try it. Have you also hiked Haleakala?