9 Things You Didn't Know About Poke, The New Food Craze From Hawaii

If you're not familiar with poke (pronounced PO-kay), it's about time you learned what this Hawaiian staple is. Not only because it's becoming increasingly popular on the mainland, but because it's delicious, versatile, healthy, and just might become one of your new favorite foods.

It Originated as a Fisherman’s Snack

While poke's origins remain a bit of a mystery, it's widely believed that it got its start among fishermen, who would season and eat the fresh cut-offs from their catch as a snack.

It’s Ubiquitous in Hawaii

In Hawaii, poke is everywhere: The average supermarket can stock up to 20 house-made varieties, and poke shacks and carry-out shops can be found across the entire state (you can even find a poke stand at Costco!). The best known poke shack in Hawaii, called Da Poke Shack, just opened a second location and offers a couple dozen varieties.

It Has Many Asian Counterparts

Poke strongly represents Asian influence on Hawaiian cuisine. In Japanese chirashi, for example, slices of raw fish and seasonings are served over rice, and in Korean hoedeopbap, marinated raw fish is served over rice.

There’s Nothing Else Exactly Like It

While there might be some similar dishes found around the world, there's nothing exactly like poke. It's its own dish, and while it might have some Asian themes going on, it's uniquely Hawaiian. 

The Variations Are Literally Infinite

While most poke shops top out at about 20 varieties, the possibilities are infinite. Any form of seafood can be used, and the mix-ins can run the gamut from traditional to avant-garde.

You Can Easily Make It at Home

One of the reasons why poke restaurants are popping up so often is the fact that the dish is so easy to make. As long as you have sushi-grade fish, you can dice it up yourself and customize it to your heart's content.

There’s a Poke Truck in Seattle

In Seattle, a truck called Poke to the Max is roaming the streets, and is a huge success. Run by legendary restaurateur Sam Choy, a variety of Hawaiian dishes are on offer as well as ahi tuna and salmon poke in a variety of applications. They'll even cook it for you if you like!

A Major League Baseball Stadium Is Selling It

You can only get poke at one major league ballpark as of now: Pecto Park, where the San Diego Padres play. At The Patio in Left Field, you'll find ahi tuna poke "tacos" alongside Tijuana dogs, juicy Lucy burgers, and chicken sandwiches.

It Just Might Become the Next Big ‘Fast-Casual’ Trend

The "fast-casual" dining trend is in full force, and some entrepreneurs are banking on this new, exciting, and fully customizable dish being the next big fast-casual food. You can choose your own fish and mix-ins, it's healthy, it doesn't need to be cooked, and there's plenty of opportunities for chains to put their own spins on it. New companies trying to make a go of it as chains include Pokéworks (with locations in Northern California and New York City) Wisefish Poké (in New York), and Sweetfin in Santa Monica.