IF YOU CAN'T STAND THE HEAT
A blog for a bold palette
Chef Steve Alls
Don't let the title scare you. I'm not one of those chefs that believe "if it ain't spicy you ain't cookin'." But I do believe in bold flavors and I also believe that flavors have to balance in any dish you cook. They should be vibrant and soulful. But enough of that…
I love to fish. It's very relaxing. With the way things are my life right now, I just don't have time to do it as much as I would like. But I have the most amazing fish story ever…for a chef, that is. When I lived in Hawaii I once had the opportunity go fishing on a boat with a local guy who I worked with. We weren't going after trout and bass that you find in the rivers around here like I normally do; we were sport fishing. The ahi were running and it wasn't long before someone on the boat caught one. Ahi is the Hawaiian word for yellow-fin and big-eye tuna. If you have never had fresh, sushi-grade ahi, you need to place this on your bucket list because it is amazing. Then one of the deck hands did something that I will never forget. He pulled out his knife and immediately cut a chunk out of that fish. Out of nowhere a plastic bowl of shoyu appeared. Shoyu is a Japanese/Hawaiian soy sauce that is different than the Chinese variety we get around here. We dipped those pieces of ahi in that sauce and even though I didn't catch anything, being out there in the Pacific eating the freshest sashimi (raw fish) that I've ever had was worth the price of admission.
I am a chef, but more importantly, I am a foodie. You would think that all chefs are foodies, but that is not always the case. So with this designation I have developed certain rules when it comes to my culinary life. Some of those rules are: steaks get pan seared, not grilled; and the best omelets are made with two eggs, not three. I am about to tell you a rule when it comes to ahi. You never, ever put heat to it or you ruin it. Now I know what you're saying, you can't eat it raw if it's not sushi grade. I totally agree, so I never eat it unless it's sushi grade!
This brings us to poke. No, it's not something you do to someone on Facebook. It's pronounced pokie, like Gumby's buddy. Poke is a meat salad served as an appetizer that usually contains fresh fish, like ahi, or octopus that is marinated in Hawaiian sea salt, soy sauce, chili peppers, and sesame oil. If available, you can add limu seaweed and macadamia or kukui nuts. This recipe is inspired by that fishing trip and it is ono (Hawaiian for good)!
2 lb. ahi tuna, large diced
1 c. soy sauce
1 Tbs. sesame oil
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/2 bunch green onion, chopped on bias
1 Tbs. ginger, fresh, grated
1 Tbs. garlic, fresh, grated
1 Tbs. sambal oelek
pinch crushed red pepper
sesame seed as needed
Hawaiian salt as needed
1. In a mixing bowl add all of the ingredients except for ahi, sesame seed, and green onion.
2. Mix thoroughly.
3. Combine the diced ahi and toss lightly.
4. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with sesame seed and green onion.