Friday, November 28, 2008

Pūpū's Anyone?

After my uneventful Thanksgiving meal yesterday, I realized just how much I love finger food, appetizers, snacks, whatever you want to call it. I love food that is bite-size, mainly because you can sample a number of dishes at the same time. I wish I had planned more yesterday for Thanksgiving and my birthday, but it was nice to have a day of doing nothing. But it got me thinking about Hawaiian food again, and how there are so many great dishes that you see on the menus at Hawaiian restaurants that you can make at home, that typically fall into this category of finger food, or pūpūs, in Hawaiian.

Every Hawaiian menu will consist of a variety of pūpūs, and many will advertise 'heavy pūpūs', which often means buffet style, so you can have a much as you want of the dish. Typically, pūpūs are made from recipes including chicken, shrimp, pork and vegetables. One of my favorite pūpū dishes is Poke, which is cubed and seasoned raw fish, usually tuna. You could also use shellfish or mussels, but fish is the most common way to make this dish. Poke is a Hawaiian word meaning "section" or "to slice or cut". Because a fish poke recipe calls for the fish to be served raw, I would always use sashimi -grade fish for freshness and quality, however be warned that some restaurants may not always serve sashimi-grade fish, which increases your risk of food poisoning if the fish is not extremely fresh. If making Poke at home, be sure to purchase your fish from a fishmonger who has a good reputation for quality.

Here is a great Poke recipe from famous Hawaiian chef, Sam Choy. Please try this recipe out, but I want you to know that Sam Choy has produced a Poke cookbook (yep he really loves Poke), which you can purchase at So if you and your guests aren't big fans of raw fish, this book has more poke recipes that might please the palate. Yum!

Sam Choy's Award Winning Poke

2 lb Ahi tuna, cubed into 1/2 to 3/4 inch squares
3 oz chopped green onion
3 oz diced onion
2 oz chopped ogo (fresh seaweed)
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Hawaiian salt to taste
Secret Ingredient: Kukui nut

Combine in mixing bowl; add dry ingredients and chill.
Serve and enjoy.

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