Poke, pronounced PO-keh, is a Hawaiian dish traditionally made by mixing diced, raw tuna with limu seaweed and inamona, a condiment of candlenuts and salt.
Raw fish is nothing new, but poke—a hyper-regional Hawaiian dish of diced, uncooked fish with local seasonings—is breaking out from its island base in a big way.
Poke is sweeping the nation, and the dish is showing remarkable versatility as an appetizer, a light meal and even as the basis for entirely new restaurant concepts. The reason for poke’s sudden popularity could be its health halo, or its customizable nature. But there’s no question that at the moment, this raw dish is hot.
“I think there’s a phenomenon going on right now [around poke],” said Carlito Jocson, executive chef of Yard House, a 66-unit casual-dining chain based in Irvine, Calif. “It’s become part of the food culture right now, and something people are really gravitating toward.”