How You Should Be Seasoning Poke

Even if you've never had the pleasure of visiting Hawaii, you've probably eaten some of the state's delicious dishes. There's Hawaii's famous plate lunch, a starch bomb of two servings of white rice, a portion of macaroni salad, and some type of protein; roasted whole kalua pig; the gravy-topped hamburger known as loco moco; and, of course, fresh, delicious poke (via Taste Atlas).

Bright, colorful, spicy poke has been a big trend across the United States over the past decade, according to Eater, with even such generic chains as Red Lobster and Cheesecake Factory at one point featuring the dish on their menus. Typically consisting of cubes of raw fish such as tuna or salmon seasoned with soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, and scallions, poke is a wonderful way to showcase its home state's fresh seafood. As long as you've got access to sushi-grade fish, the dish is extremely easy to make at home — but you're going to want to know exactly how to season it in order to allow the fresh fish to shine in all its glory.

Restraint is your friend when it comes to making poke

If you've never made poke at home, know that it's a straightforward process akin to mixing up a bowl of ceviche. As with that beloved South American dish, poke utilizes fresh, sushi-grade seafood that's carefully cubed and then dressed with flavor-packed ingredients. And while commercial poke versions you've tried may have gone heavy-handed with these sometimes-salty ingredients, it's best to season poke gently, according to Hawaiian chef Mark Noguchi.

"Anybody can sauce the hell out of fish, but the trick is to season it just enough to bring out the nuances," Noguchi told Thrillist. The chef does recommend using salt on the freshly diced fish. "The number-one tip I learned is, right after you dice the fish, salt it. It firms up the flesh and draws out some of that blood," he told Thrillist, but advises that half a teaspoon per pound of fish is more than enough. Noguchi counsels seasoning the diced fish, laying it out on a paper towel, and placing it back in the fridge for an hour to draw some of the moisture out. Then, the fish can be tossed in a subtle dressing, with the chef's recipe calling for just a tablespoon of soy sauce per pound of fish, plus flavor-packed ingredients including fresh chili and blanched seaweed. Mix the poke, taste, adjust seasonings as needed, and sprinkle on a bit of finishing salt if the dish still needs some briny punch.