{recipe} Ginger Sesame Ahi Poke

Recently a friend was coming over for dinner, and asked if he could bring some fish over for me to cook. I loved this idea because a) fish is hella expensive, and b) I loathe going to the store. He very kindly went all the way across town to Yum Yum Fish Market to get the most delicious, high quality, enormous hunk of tuna for me to make this. (Future dinner guests: take note. If you come to my house, a large piece of high quality fish is an excellent hostess gift.)

If you caught up with my favorite Maui eats last week, you’ll have an inkling that I loves me some spicy raw fish. I wanted to re-create some of the excellent ahi poke I had there, which turned out to be super easy and maika’i nui loa.* It’s important that you have really good quality fish for this (duh.) So you should ask for sushi-grade tuna at the counter of your local supermarket. PSYCH! The whole “sushi-grade” thing is total BS, and is not a meaningful or regulated term, you know, like when they call meat “Prime” or say things are “All-Natural,” or that time they spent 10 million bucks trying to re-brand prunes as dried plums so you wouldn’t realize they were prunes. (OK, it’s not really like that last one, but I remember thinking that was incredibly stupid.)

So here is what you actually need to do if you’re going to buy raw fish and eat it: buy it from a reputable person/place, preferably someone who specializes in selling fish and has been doing so for a long time. The closer you are to the guy/gal who caught the fish, the better. Perform a little inspection on the fish (here are good things to look for.) Then, look the person in the eye and tell them you’re planning to eat it raw. Ask them if that’s a good idea. If they say yes, Then go home and eat it right away. For a slightly different take on how to source fish to eat raw, you can see what this guy has to say, but I must warn you that one of his suggestions is to catch it your freakin’ self. Seriously. I have to say that I don’t see myself catching a giant tuna anytime in the near future… but I like his spirited commitment to excellence.

A note: I am not scared of eating raw fish (probably because I’m in denial about a lot of stuff that I don’t want to know about) but if you’re wondering about the risks, feel free to read this and freak yourself out. I’m also not scared of mercury because I don’t eat fish very often.

I am, however, scared of overfishing and ruining our oceans, so I try to choose sustainable seafood. Monterey Bay Aquarium has helpful guides with a green/yellow/red coding system that you can download for your region to help you choose fish wisely. I carry one in my purse so I can use it in the grocery store or when I’m at a restaurant. In this case, troll or pole caught ahi (also known as yellowfin) is something the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch calls a “good alternative” and marks it in the yellow category. I try to stick to the green when possible and since I feel incredibly guilty eating off the red list, I don’t really do it anymore.

Oh! One more thing. Sharpen your knife before you cut the fish, or it might turn out all raggedy and nasty. If your knives suck (or if YOU suck- just kidding, if you sucked you wouldn’t be reading this awesome blog!), ask them to cut it into 3/4 inch cubes for you at the place you buy the fish.

Ginger Sesame Ahi Poke

serves 3-4. If you have more or less tuna you can adjust the amounts in the recipe to accommodate how much tuna you’re making.


  • 1 1/2 lbs. raw ahi, cut in 3/4 inch cubes
  • 6 green onions, white and light green part finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 Tblsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 Tblsp sesame oil
  • 5 Tblsp soy sauce
  • Sriracha or other Asian hot sauce to taste


  • Mix everything in a bowl and toss with the tuna. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before eating.
  • Pour on a plate and drizzle with Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste. Serve with extra hot sauce on the side for those who like it spicy.

*According to Google, that’s how you say “great” in Hawaiian. Hawaiians, feel free to chime in on my poor language skills.

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2 Responses

  1. May 1, 2011

    […] made a half ration of Ginger Sesame Ahi Poke too, and served the two side by side. (In that post, I also discuss facts and myths about […]

  2. January 29, 2013

    […] made a half ration of Ginger Sesame Ahi Poke too, and served the two side by side. (In that post, I also discuss facts and myths about […]