Poke has gone mainstream. Most everyone knows that poke refers to cubes of raw fish. The origin of the word poke is Hawaiian and refers to fish being cross-cut. These days, youʻll find trays of different types of poke (tuna, marlin, salmon, octopus, etc.) in local grocery stores, tossed with a variety of condiments, like shoyu, limu (seaweed), onions, and even mayonnaise. Poke bowls have also become lunch favorites. You can pick up poke bowls at Suisan (85 Lihiwai Street) or Poke to Taste (790 Leilani Street), as well as the big three local supermarkets, KTA, Safeway, and Sack and Save, where your bowl is made to your liking. Pick your poke and it will be served up on a bowl of sushi rice and packed to-go.
Although fish is one of the healthier meats, I was looking for something different. Enter mushroom poke. Many vegetarians substitute mushrooms for meat due to their hearty texture. Theyʻre even called “the meat of the earth”. One night, I ordered an expensive, but tiny serving of delicious mushroom poke at the now-defunct Nihon Restaurant (it was transitioning to Hilo Bay Cafe), and thought, this would be something worth trying at home.
We, here on Hawaii Island, are lucky to have a local mushroom farm, Hāmākua Heritage Farms, in Laupāhoehoe. Their product is sold fresh in all the local grocery stores, including Costco. I bought 2 trays of Aliʻi mushrooms, which came out to $2 less than the one I had at the restaurant and would definitely yield three times as much. Aliʻi mushrooms are hearty and all-utility when using them in recipes.
I didn’t know the measurements exactly, so I eyeballed proportions and added to taste. Always err on the side of conservative measurements and add to your taste. Here’s what I came up with:
- Gently wash and slice mushrooms
- Add to boiling water & blanch for less than a minute
- Drain with ice and cold water
- Squeeze out water from mushrooms and toss with slices of Maui onion, green onions, sesame oil, and shoyu. You’re welcome to find a combination of condiments that works for you. FYI, mushrooms tend to soak up liquids.
- Chill before serving
I usually serve it as a side dish during dinner, like tsukemono, or as a poke option on an Aloha Friday afternoon, accompanied by a tall glass of your favorite drink. Enjoy!