Preparing raw fish dishes at home can be awfully intimidating. First, there’s the sourcing issue — markets that supply extremely fresh seafood are few and far between, and the fish is often shrinkwrapped for sale, making it difficult to judge the freshness of the product. Secondly, there’s the handling and preparation, foreign to those of us more familiar with American (and Americanized) cooking.
When you go shopping for raw fish, look for the term “sashimi grade.” This signifies that the fish is extremely fresh, generally cut against the grain to minimize chewiness, and is free from sinew and bones. If the fish is unpackaged, ask to take a sniff — the fish should have no fishy odor, but only a fresh, seawater aroma. If you’re buying a pre-packaged product, make sure that it was packaged the same day.
Oh, and purchasing pre-frozen product is more than fine. Many commercial fishing boats flash freeze their catches, and the fish is later defrosted for sale. Not only does this extend the shelf life, freezing kills parasites that can cause illness when the fish is consumed raw.
Today’s recipe is a two-fer — buy two of your favorite kinds of sashimi grade fish and prepare two kinds of poke at the same time without any more effort than it would take to make one variety. I’ve used salmon and tuna here, but you can substitute yellowtail, snapper, or even shellfish like scallops, shrimp, or squid.
In creating these poke recipes, I did a whole lotta research on raw fish dishes. Turns out that nearly every islander or coastal-dwelling population has their own take. I love coconut milk, so when I stumbled on recipes for Polynesian ‘Ota ‘ika, I knew I had to do my own take.
And so, my tuna poke is napped in coconut cream that’s thinned out with lime juice and seasoned with Thick Black Bean Soy Sauce, which I received as a sample last week at the Fancy Food Show. I loved the viscosity of this product — brewed with cane sugar, it adds salt and a touch of sweetness. Grated ginger, sliced green onions, and jalapeños keep things fresh and spicy, adding pops of flavor and texture to each bite.
For a counterpoint to the creamy, coconutty tuna, I chose to keep the second poke California-y and simple. Diced salmon is tossed with lemon juice and sea salt, and sliced cucumbers soften and pickle slightly as the mixture marinates. Serve the poke with vegetable chips, or your favorite potato or tortilla chips.
Tuna and Salmon Poke Duo (printer-friendly version)
serves 4 as an appetizer
5 medium green onions, sliced into thin rounds
1 medium jalapeno, halved (seeds left in)
1 small persian cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
1/4 pound (4 ounces) sashimi grade atlantic salmon, cut into 1/3” cubes
juice of 2 medium lemons
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
leaves from 3 large sprigs cilantro, stacked and sliced into thin ribbons
one 1/2-inch by 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated on a fine microplane
1 tablespoon Maruso Thick Black Bean Soy Sauce
1/4 cup coconut cream
1/4 pound (4 ounces) sashimi grade ahi tuna, cut into 1/3” cubes
juice of 2 large limes
1. Set out two medium mixing bowls.
2. Divide the sliced green onions evenly between the two bowls.
3. Slice half of the jalapeno into thin half moons (seeds left in), and place in the first bowl. Cut the remaining half of the jalapeno lengthwise and slice into thin pieces, then place in the second bowl.
4. To the first bowl, add the cucumber, salmon, lemon juice, and sea salt. Stir to combine.
5. To the second bowl, add the cilantro, ginger, soy sauce, coconut cream, tuna, and lime juice. Stir to combine.
6. Let both bowls of poke marinate for 10 minutes, then spoon into serving bowls and serve immediately.