10 facts about Hawaiian raw fish, with poke man Lawrence Hui

A short guide to enjoying poke, a seafood treat new to Edmonton

tuna poke from ono poke and lawrence huiLike a wave rolling in the distance that suddenly crashes on the beach at your feet, a fishy food from Hawaii has washed ashore in the unlikeliest of places – downtown Edmonton.

Poke, the raw fish salad whose popularity has spread in recent years, has arrived in northern Alberta. Lawrence Hui (Culinary Arts ’08) just opened ’Ono Poke Co., one of 2 local poke spots spawned in the capital this spring.  

Hui, an Edmontonian of Chinese descent, travelled to Maui to learn about poke from the pros. There, the marinated, chopped fish or seafood specialty is available everywhere – in casual restaurants, delis and supermarkets. He even found a liquor store that sold about 2 dozen kinds of poke from a little counter in the back.

If you’re fishing for a new culinary adventure, here is a poke primer, courtesy of Chef Lawrence.

  1. It’s pronounced POH-kay, like OK (if the emphasis was on the “o”).
  2. The fish in poke is always marinated, usually in some combination of soy sauce, chili and other seasonings.
  3. Poke can be eaten alone, straight out of a takeout container, or on top of rice.
  4. chili water at ono poke in EdmontonQuinoa or salad greens, the other poke bowl bases offered at 'Ono, aren’t traditional, but they are delicious.
  5. The sashimi-grade fish used to make poke must be frozen first to kill any potential parasites. ('Ono poke only uses previously frozen fish.)
  6. Poke is influenced by many cultures – Thai, Korean, Japanese and Filipino, to name a few.
  7. Don’t feel guilty eating poke with a fork instead of chopsticks. Despite its Asian influences, it’s generally eaten with a fork in Hawaii, too.
  8. Don’t drink the chili water. Despite its name, chili water is a sweet-and-sour condiment made from vinegar, sugar, chili, garlic and ginger. Put some on your poke bowl or on taro chips.
  9. Not a fan of fish? 'Ono offers a (cooked) pork version and a vegan version with cubed beets instead of fish.
  10. Spelled with an apostrophe at the beginning, ’ono means delicious in Hawaiian. Without the apostrophe, ono means fish. Clever.

lawrence hui and staff at ono poke in Edmonton

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