What Is Poke Sushi?

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Poke is a Hawaiian delicacy made of sliced marinated sushi-grade fish that has been tossed over rice and topped with Japanese-inspired sauces.

‘Poke’ means ‘chunk’ or ‘to slice’ in Hawaiian.

It refers to the chopping up of the fish, or whichever meat, into small, cubed pieces during the making of poke.

Hawaiian Poke bowl
Poke bowl

Poke is very similar to sushi, only that it is Hawaiian while sushi is Japanese.

There are many versions of it around, depending on the recipe and ingredients used.

Primarily, though, it is a raw tuna salad as its main ingredients are chopped up raw tuna with vegetable dressings.

What Is Poke Like?

There are many variations of making poke.

The most agreed style, however, is raw pieces of tuna chopped up into cubes, marinated with soy sauce and sesame oil, and dressed with different vegetables.

This is the original style of making poke, and many Hawaiians grew up eating it this way.

Nowadays, people use various types of seafood instead of just fish.

For Instance – You are likely to find poke made with octopus or salmon meat in a local Hawaiian grocery store or restaurant.

Asian cuisines greatly influence Hawaiian cuisine. There are touches of Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Filipino inspirations for Hawaiian food.

Poke is especially influenced by Japanese cuisine, and as we have outlined, is pretty much the same as sushi, a Japanese staple, albeit with minor differences.

Additionally: Poke is often garnished with Japanese sauces such as kimchi and wasabi. Its base is rice, which is also a Japanese staple that is used in the making of sushi. While the origin of poke is not very clear, it has been consumed in Hawaii for many generations.

How To Make Poke

As we have established, poke is one of the traditional foods that represent the Hawaiian culture.

Salmon Poke bowl sticks
Salmon Poke bowl

It is heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine and is very much like sushi. Today, poke is widely acknowledged all over the world.

It has a very simple recipe that is easy to pull off successfully.

Furthermore, it fits different cooking styles, so one can always customize it as per taste and preference.

For instance, you can create a Japanese taste by using Japanese ingredients and seasonings.

Making Gunkan Style Rolled Sushi Infused with Poke

This is one of the ways you can prepare poke.

This method applies the basic poke recipe, but instead of tuna fish, it uses salmon. It is one of the ways you can infuse poke with sushi.

Woman eating Sushi

The ingredients required to make poke include:

  • salmon
  • shiso leaf
  • sesame seeds
  • soy sauce
  • rice bran oil
  • and mozuku seaweed

Begin the process by making nikiri soy sauce, which is a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, and sake in equal ratios.

Put the mixture in a bowl and heat it until it reaches boiling point. As the nikiri soy sauce gets ready, prepare the fish.

Cut up the salmon fish in small, nice cubic chunks and put the pieces in the nikiri sauce.

At This Point – Marinate the fish with the sesame seeds and some soy sauce and put it in the fridge for about half an hour.

While the fish marinates, cut the mozuku seaweed and shiso leaf into smaller pieces and put them in a bowl.

You can add various spices such as jalapeno or pepper for a savory kick if you so wish. Mix the contents of the bowl nicely.

The next bit is to put all the ingredients together in the bowl holding the fish:

  • Add rice bran oil and mix everything up sufficiently to get your poke.
  • To achieve a gunkan style sushi infused with poke, make pieces of gunkan sushi base.
  • Then, scoop a pinch of poke mixture and fill in half of the gunkan base.

You can now enjoy your poke with a drink of your choice.

What Is the Difference Between Poke and Sushi?

Poke and sushi are similar because they both feature raw fish.

Tuna Poke bowl served
Tuna Poke bowl

If one is not keen enough, they may come off as the same thing, but they certainly are not.

Even though they share the same ingredients, the recipes are different. As such, poke and sushi are different in many ways, including their appearance, flavor, taste, and aroma.

The following are the main differences between poke and sushi.

Difference #1 – Origin

Poke originates from Hawaii, whereas sushi’s origins are in Japan.

This is the main difference between the two delicacies. In essence, poke is the pacific islander way to consume raw fish, while sushi is the Japanese way to eat raw fish.

Difference #2 – Shape

Sushi comes in small, cute rolls that you can easily fit in your mouth in a single bite.

On the other hand, poke comes in a pile of ingredients inside a bowl.

Difference #3 – Recipe

Poke has a complex recipe as it is made with way more ingredients than sushi.

Difference Between Poke and Sushi
Sushi & Poke difference

Sushi’s recipe is simple, minimalistic, and straightforward. Sushi is primarily a product of two ingredients or three at most.

Difference #4 – Ingredients

Poke comes with various ingredients and has many layers.

It has a base layer that involves sticky rice. The base is topped with tuna or another type of seafood. It also contains seasonings like sesame seeds, onions, and salt.

Next comes the vegetable layer and, to top it all off, the dressing.

The result is a rainbow of food that is colorful and exciting. Elsewhere, sushi is as simple as it can get.

Primarily, sushi is made of two ingredients- rice and raw fish. It is sometimes made with just the fish with nothing else involved.

When done right, accompaniments are unnecessary- an example of this is sashimi.

Difference #5 – Serving 

Poke is served in a bowl looking like a rainbow because of all the ingredients therein. Sushi is served in small, cute rolls.


Poke is often confused with sushi because they bear many similarities.

However, sushi is a completely different delicacy. It is a Japanese staple food that is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture.

Eating Japanese sushi

Sushi is one way to eat rice, which is one of the most consumed foods in Asia. It is primarily made up of two ingredients: rice and raw fish, or other types of seafood.

Over the years, it has become increasingly popular in many countries all over the world.

One downside to both sushi and poke is that the raw fish poses a health risk to individuals who consume them, even though it is not a very common occurrence.

Some of these health risks include parasitic infections, liver diseases, and bowel obstruction.

Final Words

Poke is a Hawaiian dish that exhibits heavy influence from Japanese cuisine.

It is basically sushi with vegetables. Its ingredients provide a balanced diet, making it a great way to consume all essential nutrients in a single bite.

In essence, poke will provide a consumer with sufficient nutrients and energy without necessarily putting on extra weight.

There are various ways to make poke as per a person’s taste and preference, and you can find it in restaurants around the US and several other countries.

Some popular types of poke include shiso salmon poke, spicy poke, and vegetarian poke.

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