Poke is a local treat, usually made with raw ahi tuna, though other fish are used as well, mixed with some type of seaweed, green onion, and various spices. The secret ingredient is often roasted kukui nut, also called candlenut, which together with Hawaiian salt, make up that special flavor combination known around here as Inamona.
With a handy Kukui (Candlenut) tree in our back garden, I decided to go through the process of making my own inamona. I had gathered a basket full and let the nuts brown in the sun for several weeks, as per directions found online.
As a side note, years ago, we lived on the North Shore of Oahu, in a little beach duplex. These nuts, husked by the sea, scoured, beach washed and beautiful then with variations of subtle color, would occasionally wash up, having come downstream to the ocean. Over the course of several years I had collected a jar of them. Lost sadly in our move to the Big Island.
The next step was swishing them around in water to clean and to see if any float to the top. Those are the rotten or empty ones. They all floated and got tossed. Sigh.
Okay, I went out and gathered more. These I washed and left to dry several hours in a slightly warm oven. Same process, and this time only one was not a floater. What the story is here I do not know. At any rate one was sufficient. You only want a few teaspoons. Unless you are in need of a laxative. You see the larger guy at bottom? Luckily, that being the non-floater, it also turned out to be a twin, once husked. Two for one.
After husking, the nut is cracked, meat removed and chopped, then (rather than roasting in the oven on a hot day) gently browned in a skillet. Add an equal amount of coarse Hawaiian salt (has a bit of red clay for color) and there you have inamona. Ready for your poke.
The recipe I used is an adaptation of Sam Choy's, from Sam Choy's Kitchen. He's famous here for his restaurants as well as his annual Poke Contest.
Hawaiian Style Poke
1 lb. finely diced, very fresh ahi (yellowfin tuna)
2 teaspoons inamona (see above)
1/2 cup rinsed and chopped ogo seaweed
1/3 cup chopped green onion
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 teaspoons coarse salt (Hawaiian if you have it)
1/3 cup water
Combine above ingredients and mix thoroughly. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
So, for our July 4th dinner we had beef teriyaki kebobs, and poke as a side. White rice, of course. Ono.