Poke is the new black– or so it seems. Today’s food trends are reflecting the rapid rise of fast-casual dining, and poke, the Hawaiian raw fish salad, is no exception. Beating out fast food, fast-casual dining is changing the way we eat. More than ever, there is high demand for fresh, healthy meals in an instant. Long gone are the days of $2 burgers at the drive-thru. We now can have $15 grass-fed, organic, Instagram-able artisanal sandwiches crafted for us in minutes. Perhaps the biggest and most mispronounced fast-casual food trend of 2017, poke, or “poh-kay”’s rising star is relevant to the ongoing debate in the food sphere: Is a food served up outside of its traditional domain an homage or appropriation of culture?
“It has been a standard recipe on the islands well before Captain Cook pulled a “Columbus” on Hawaii.”
Originating in Hawaii, poke, meaning “slice” or “cut” in Hawaiian, is a traditional dish made of raw fish, sesame oil, sesame seeds and green onions. It has been a standard recipe on the islands well before Captain Cook pulled a “Columbus” on Hawaii.
Linguistics lessons and cultural debates aside, America’s insatiable hunger to explore new food trends, like poke, is growing. Originating on the West Coast, this trend can be Instagram-ed in major cities like New York, Chicago and Washington D.C. However, don’t always believe what you see on Instagram, kids. The poke dominating our social feeds is usually not made in a traditional way. Topped with the likes of kale, jalapeños, mangoes, avocado and sriracha mayo, poke on the mainland has transformed into an American tastebud-friendly dish, just as many have before that (i.e. tacos, sushi).
“With more toppings than a froyo bar, the mainland version of this dish is inherently photogenic and an easy #hashtag.”
With more toppings than a froyo bar, the mainland version of this dish is inherently photogenic and an easy #hashtag. So, it’s no secret as to why this once-humble island offering has become the dish du jour. While its gastronomic history may not be the reason major cities are knee deep in poke restaurants, it still represents an important food culture. Even if the underlying philosophy of a poke establishment is about being on trend, it speaks to a growing desire to travel and learn through food.
We know one thing for sure – just as 1969 is remembered as the Summer of Love, 2017 will be deemed the Summer of Poke.
Get Home Chef’s “mainland poke” recipe here.