A cultural plate that's easy to make and fun to love, poke has truly taken over the culinary world. You might be wondering - what is poke, can I trust raw fish, I don't really know anything about it... Poke is essentially deconstructed sushi served as a bowl - rice with cubed raw fish (mostly ahi tuna or salmon), covered with an assortment of sauces (siracha, spicy mayo, eel sauce, ponzu, soy sauce, etc.) and toppings (avocado, seaweed salad, scallions, chillies, crab salad, edamame, and the list continues). 

With so many options, you can imagine how every bowl is incredibly customizable with the whole Chipotle-style method of ordering. Most menus offer their own "house" combinations along with a series of base, fish, topping, and sauce options for the customer to choose if they're feeling adventurous enough to DIY their bowl.  It's also rather easy to make at home (I know I plan to make many over the upcoming school year).

The poke trend started in 2016, but I feel like social media really started giving the movement some ammunition and star power spring of this year and reasonably so. It's a fresh and light summer food, and the beauty of this trend is how health-oriented these bowls are (expanding their base options to quinoa, zucchini noodles, mixed greens). 

California was the state that really kicked it off in mainland USA with the opening of Sweetfin Poke.  The owners of the restaurant were inspired to bring Hawaii back home with them after a vacation to the islands. New Yorker Bruce Bromberg then introduced Poke as a part of his restaurant, Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar.  And that's how it spread to Pittsburg and Denver. Now, poke-only places have popped up across the globe, and of course every city that adopts poke introduces a fun flair. Miami's PokeBar incorporates Cuban flavors by offering black beans, plantains, and fresh tropical fruits. With these derivations from the norm, it's so important to appreciate the cultural origins of poke but also venture to experience the collaboration of flavors and cultures.

“We’re hardcore connected to our food, and if you’re not connected—spiritually—to our culture, there’s no chapter in a book or any amount of Instagram posts or Snapchats that is going to teach you who we are.” - Mark “Gooch” Noguchi, chef-owner of Hawaii's Pili Group

Be mindful of what you're eating and why/how you're eating it.

How'd this food come to your table? Are you practicing sustainability, are you working with the world or are you just in it? A central thought deeply at the root of the Aloha State is Aloha ʻĀina, which means "love of the land" - you care for and nurture the land so it cares back for you by giving back all we need to sustain life for ourselves and our future generations. 

Now that you know what poke is and hopefully are intrigued, go spread your light and encourage your friends to try poke the next "fam dinner", you truly won't regret it.