Poke, Can You Say POH-kay Yum-Oh-Lah?

Chefs, Cooking, Recipes, Restaurants, Videos By Apr 26, 2013

Tabu Grill’s Ahi Poke is so scrumptious.

At the hands of a capable home cook or chef, poke is an irresistible dish. The Hawaiian concoction showcases jewel-like cubes of chilled raw ahi (yellowfin tuna) napped with a delectable Asian-themed sauce.

Rayne Frey, executive chef at Tabu Grill, Laguna Beach, formulates a sauce for poke that is sweet-sour-salty-spicy paradise; the vibrant flavors balance one another in a seductive way, bringing out the best in the fish.

Watch Chef Rayne make poke in this short video. It will make you hungry!


Garnishes of pickled red onion, sesame seeds, green onion and wakame (salad-like Japanese seaweed) make it incomparable. Here’s a photo of wakame; it’s sold at Japanese markets – if you prefer, you can leave it out. It will still be delicious!


Frey, who grew up in San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, lived and worked in Hawaii in several renowned restaurant kitchens before coming to Tabu Grill three years ago.

Although poke is most often thought of as a starter, he says that you can serve it over sticky rice as an entrée, or over mixed baby greens as a salad.

His recipe makes more sauce than is used to lightly coat the poke’s ahi. I used the leftover sauce on grilled halibut. My husband said it was the best halibut he’d ever had. We vowed to spoon some over skewered and grilled shrimp.


Halibut with Rayne’s poke sauce.

Darn good.

Tabu Grill’s Poke
Yield: 6 to 8 appetizer servings
1/4 cup yuzu juice or fresh lemon juice or fresh lime juice, see cook’s notes
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup Sriracha sauce (Asian hot sauce)
1/4 cup Asian (roasted) sesame oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound sushi-grade ahi
1/4 cup wakame, divided use, see cook’s notes
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion, divided use
1/4 cup slivers of pickled red onion, divided use, see cook’s notes
1/4 cup sesame seeds
For serving: taro chips
Cook’s notes: Yuzu is an aromatic citrus fruit that is the signature ingredient in ponzu sauce. It is sold in bottles at Japanese markets. You can substitute either fresh lemon or lime juice. Wakame is a delicious Japanese seaweed salad that is sold at Japanese markets; if you can’t find it, leave it out. To pickle onion, cut a large red onion into thin slivers and put in heatproof bowl; in a saucepan combine 2 cups red wine vinegar and 1 cup sugar and bring to bowl. When sugar dissolves, pour over onion slivers. Let rest 1 hour, or when cool, cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Chef used a combination of white sesame seeds and black sesame seeds. Taro chips are found at some supermarkets and natural food stores. Trader Joe’s sells them combined with sweet potato chips.
1. Prepare dressing: In large nonreactive bowl, add juice, sugar, honey, soy, oyster sauce and Sriracha; whisk to combine. Whisking, add oils in thin stream.
2. Place ahi in a separate nonreactive bowl. Add just enough sauce to lightly coat ahi; toss. Taste and add more sauce if needed. Add 1/8 cup wakame, 1/8 cup green onions, 1/8 cup pickled red onion; toss.
3. Refrigerate leftover sauce. Garnish with remaining wakame, green onions, pickled red onion and sesame seeds. Accompany with sturdy taro chips.
Source: Rayne Frey, executive chef Tabu Grill, Laguna Beach


Here’s a quick and luscious tip from Melissa’s …

Beneath a kiwi’s fuzzy brown skin, a delicate sweet-tart treasure awaits. Kiwi’s interior is filled with vibrant flavors and alluring color, either bright green or golden flesh ringed with edible small black seeds that circle around a pale soft core.

Baby kiwi, no bigger than a marble, are edible – skin and all.


Here’s a power breakfast that teams kiwis with strawberries, yogurt and toasted quinoa. The recipe makes more of the crunchy quinoa topping than is used in the dish. Once cooled, the quinoa mixture can be stored airtight up to one week at room temperature. Crunchy and nutty, the mixture is also delicious atop rice, baked apples or sliced stone fruit.


Breakfast Bowls with Toasted Quinoa, Kiwi and Strawberries
Yield: 6 servings
1 1/4 cups white quinoa
1 tablespoon agave syrup, plus 1 teaspoon, divided use
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or canola oil
1 cup sliced ripe strawberries
2 kiwi, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into crosswise slices, or 14 baby kiwi, halved
4 cups (2 percent fat) plain or vanilla Greek-style yogurt
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse quinoa in a fine strainer under cold running water for about 45 seconds; shake strainer rigorously from side to side to remove as much water as possible.

2. Place well-drained quinoa on rimmed baking sheet. Pour 1 tablespoon agave syrup and oil on top; mix with rubber spatula or clean hands to combine and spread quinoa into single layer as much as possible. Bake until crisp, stirring occasionally, about 10 to 11 minutes. Place baking sheet on cooling rack: cool thoroughly.

3. In medium bowl, toss strawberries and kiwis with 1 teaspoon agave syrup.

4. Divide yogurt between 6 bowls. Top each with fruit mixture and sprinkle each serving with about 2 tablespoon of the crunchy quinoa. Serve.

Nutritional information (per serving, figuring 2 tablespoons topping): calories 290; fat calories 70, total fat 8 grams; sat fat 2.5 grams, cholesterol 10 milligrams; sodium 60 milligrams; total carbohydrates 39 grams; fiber 3 grams; sugars 13 grams; protein 18 grams

Source: “50 Best Plants on the Planet” by Cathy Thomas (Chronicle, $29.95)


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