Bluefin Tuna Poke Recipe
Chef Ryan Griffin loves to serve high-quality bluefin tuna poke as an appetizer, snack, or meal unto itself, but ensuring that it meets his high standards starts with a great piece of fish and proper preparation. That means using only the premium portion of the meat. With an AFTCO Fillet Knife, he'll carve out the bloodline, which is not good for human consumption, and then reserve any portions with muscle or tendon for meals that get cooked all the way through, like tuna burgers. White lines indicate connective tissue, which tends to be chewy. The top portion of the tuna steak is the absolute best, and that's all he'll use.
1. Preparing Tuna for Poke
Proper poke requires taking that piece and reducing it to cubes. That can be harder than it looks. Griffin will examine the meat to see which way the grain goes, and then cut against it lengthwise to make strips that will then be reduced to even smaller cubes. "I like about the size of a dice," he explained.
"It's just going to be a piece that you're going to bite into, and it's going to be a beautiful piece of raw fish in your mouth," he said. In order to get there, he'll add a little sea salt to the bowl, and then "a liberal amount of Sriracha." Blending those tastes in is key. He folds it into the fish rather than aggressively mixing it, to ensure that he doesn't bruise the main ingredient.
3. Assembling the Poke
The poke is best when served cold, so before the next additions, Griffin puts it in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes, or if there's a time crunch, he'll speed it up by placing it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Poke literally means "cut small," so he'll use that time to get his vegetables into minuscule proportions. First, he adds green onions, sliced "as thin as you can." Next comes cilantro. He realizes that some people love it, some hate it, and it's "not a dealbreaker." If you do plan to add some, he prefers the leaves to the stems. For flavoring, he'll add Thai basil, chopped roughly to expose the flavor, and finally, small diced pieces of seeded cucumbers for crunch. He adds all of these to the side of the bowl containing the ice-cold, well-marinated tuna.
4. Serving the Poke
The wet ingredients come next, starting with a healthy amount of sesame oil, as well as coconut aminos, which he said tends to be sweeter and thicker than traditional soy sauce. Other additions include crunchy garlic chili crisp, toasted sesame seeds, and tobiko (flying fish roe). Again, it's critical to fold in the ingredients rather than mix them harshly to avoid damaging or bruising any of the fish. Once he has it all blended, he'll add more of the above to taste and garnish with green onions or chives. Now it's time to serve it, either with chips or all by itself. Don't be surprised if the whole bowl is gone in less time than it took to prepare it in the first place.
If you enjoyed this poke recipe from Ryan, check out his mahi mahi recipe for Panko Crusted Mahi Mahi Sliders on King’s Hawaiian Rolls.
2 pounds cubed fresh tuna
5-6 tablespoons Sriracha
4 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1/4 cup roughly chopped basil
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons Tobiko (Flying Fish Roe)