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Sourcing Tuna For Poke: 4 things to keep in mind when buying fish for poke

Ok, it’s official, poke bowls are all the rage right now and only growing in popularity as more and more people discover this healthy and delicious Hawaiian tradition.

Hawaiian Poke by Chef Josh at Noble Rice in Tampa Fl

Being on the supply end of the trend, we’re getting quite a kick out of all the ways restaurants and chefs across the mainland are putting their own not-quite-Hawaiian spins on their poke recipes and preparations. And while we’re all about innovation here at Hawaiian Fresh Seafood (we aren’t going to tell you not to put kale in your poke just because we don’t in Hawaii), we feel like it’s our duty as suppliers to help educate consumers about making informed choices when it comes to what fish they’re choosing to use in their poke bowls. So go ahead and line your bowls with lettuce, top them with diced tomatoes and cilantro, but keep these things in mind when it comes to the tuna you serve in your poke:

Choose Fresh Tuna Over Frozen Tuna

While there is nothing inherently wrong with frozen fish or freezing fish, when it comes to sourcing ahi (yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna) for raw fish applications like poke, you want to get your hands on a fresh product. Why? Because hands down, fresh tuna really does taste better than frozen. The texture is better and the color is natural. And frankly, when it comes to serving any fish preparation, but especially raw fish, the flavor, color and texture are what it’s all about.

Source Hawaiian Tuna and Leave Imported Tuna Alone

A bigeye tuna ahi is boarded on a Hawaiian Fresh Seafood vessel

While using imported tuna loins may be cheaper, by doing so you are taking a huge gamble on quality and freshness. Imported tuna is often treated with carbon monoxide which is actually illegal in many countries (including Japan) and you really don’t know what you’re getting. When you order fresh, Hawaiian caught tuna you can rest assured that you’re getting a quality product caught specifically for the raw fish market. Keep in mind, poke is a Hawaiian dish and ahi is the Hawaiian word for tuna, so it only makes sense that you would want your staple ingredient to be true to the origin of the dish.

Choosing The Best Grade of Tuna To Use for Poke

Not all tuna is created equal. A tuna’s diet, how it is caught, it’s age and size are just some factors that

contribute to the quality of its meat. Typically with poke, you don’t need the very best grade typically reserved for sashimi applications, but you do need to make sure it’s going to hold up well when cubed and served raw. Talk to your supplier, tell them what you’re wanting to use the tuna for and they can help determine the best grade and value for your specific application and budget.

Take Responsibility For Resource

As the popularity of poke grows, it’s important that we keep in mind that tuna is a natural resource that needs to be harvested responsibly to ensure long term sustainability. Chefs and restaurants play a very important role in conservation and sustainability when they choose their source. Since the Hawaii tuna fishery is a highly regulated and well managed fishery, sourcing Hawaiian ahi is one way that we can contribute towards a sustainable future. And when you consider everything from quality and freshness to the sustainability of Hawaiian tuna, it’s obviously the best choice.

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