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da grindz

Recipe: tuna poke

I’m writing from the cool(er) foothills of Waimea (Kamuela) right now. The drizzle has abated and there is a gentle breeze keeping some residents in pants and jackets. Jeremy has just polished off his second cup of Kona coffee for the day and we’re deciding on where to grab lunch. It’s been a rainy week on the Big Island, but it’s not such a downer considering the amazing food (ono kine grindz) on offer if you avoid the tourist traps.

noms to go at the hilo farmers market

bouquets on display

they had mangosteens, lychee, cherimoyas, mangos…


crates of rambutan

white anthurium among the reds

jeremy’s favorite tree: the banyan

We scored heaps of fresh fruits and local treats in Hilo on our way to the Hamakua Coast. I think I’m in love with Hilo because it’s everything that Kona isn’t. The food alone is enough to make me forget about the heat and humidity – THAT is how fan-freaking-tastic Hilo is. As scenery goes, the north side of the Big Island is my favorite for the dramatic jungly cliffs plunging into the gem-blue waters. Another thing I love about the north side of the island is Tex’s in Honoka’a.

this is for malasada research

fresh hot malasadas from tex’s beats the pants off a krispy kreme

pineapple malasada research

We spent the last three days out of Waimea (Kamuela) which is pleasantly nestled on the saddle between Kohala and Mauna Kea. It’s a few thousand feet above the ocean and I’ve been loving the drier, cooler climate (we’re on the dry side of town – yes, there is a wet and dry side of Waimea!). Excellent food here and in the lovely town of Hawi too.

we stayed at an inn on the west side of town

dinner at merriman’s

kalua pig and sweet onion quesadilla

home-cured smoked pork belly with kona coffee glaze

wild pork tenderloin

i’ve also been going crazy for these local taro and sweet potato chips

sushi rock in hawi

cap’n crunch roll

rockstar roll

I knew before coming to Hawai’i that I would be all over the poke – that irresistible mix of fresh raw fish, onions, seaweed, and salt dressed lightly in soy sauce and sesame oil. There are many variations as we took note in the grocery stores: lime poke, kimchi poke (omg omg!!), avocado poke, California poke… We have sampled quite a bit of the poke around the island – I just can’t get enough of it. One way to solve the withdrawal issues when returning to the mainland is to make some yourself. The fish will never be as awesomely fresh, but it’s a start.

tuna (maguro), green onions, seaweed (wakame), flake salt, and sesame seeds

diced tuna, sliced onions, and rehydrated seaweed

The key is the fish. Get really fresh and good quality tuna or else it’s not really worth making (and eating). I got my seaweed from Whole Foods – it’s the dried wakame which also goes great in miso soup. Rehydration is super simple: add cold water and let sit for 5 minutes, then drain.

adding a dash of sesame oil


Make sure you add enough of the seasonings that it tastes good but doesn’t mask the fresh bites of tuna. And don’t be shy about the salt. That little bit of crunch is a terrific texture and flavor enhancer. Also? If you feel so inclined, adding some chopped macadamia nuts to the mix is phenomenal. You can add pretty much whatever you like, but the recipe (sans nuts) is the basic poke recipe to go on. I especially like it with a side of steamed (Asian style = sticky) rice.

sprinkle good salt over the poke

serve to people you like

Tuna Poke
[print recipe]
from No Recipes

1/2 lb. sashimi-grade tuna (maguro), cubed (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch)
4 green onions, minced
1/4 cup rehydrated seaweed (I used wakame as Marc instructed – found it at my local Whole Foods)
2 tsps toasted sesame seeds (I like to mix black and white sesame seeds – I’m an interracial type)
2 tsps soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped (optional, but GOOD!)
the best salt you can find (I used Murray River pink flake sea salt)

Toss everything together except the salt. Sprinkle salt over the poke and serve with rice.

33 nibbles at “da grindz”

  1. Helene says:

    Everything looks so good. Beautiful flowers.

  2. Michelle says:

    The trip sounds wonderful. Tuna Poke sounds amazing!

  3. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) says:

    cap’n crunch roll and the rockstar roll…gorgeous!

    and the flowers…so beautiful they look fake! wow, jen…amazing trip & food and pics! love it !

  4. Allison Day says:

    Ohmygosh, all that tropical fruit! I may have to plan a trip to Hawaii solely for that. ^_^

  5. Joyce says:

    Oh my goodness, I was honestly right at that exact market in Hilo and it was amazing!
    Of course your pictures are manyfold more gorgeous than mine, but goodness this brings back so many happy memories of poke and seafood.
    I’m going through serious Mercury withdrawal right now, haha. Great post!

  6. Sally - My Custard Pie says:

    The poke is seriously inviting. I’m so tempted to make it although I know none of my family will eat it so I’ll be left to finish it myself (is that a bad thing?). I particularly like visiting markets myself and through the eyes of others. This one is literally worlds away from where I live and where I grew up – it’s so exotic. I’d love to go there – thanks for sharing.

  7. Nicola Stratford says:

    How cool that you use Murray River Pink Salt – I live just a few miles from the very river from which it’s obtained! If you ever run short, let me know and I’ll pop some into the mail for you.

    Cheers, Nic

  8. Emily says:

    You had me at ‘coffee.’ These pictures, per usual, are absolutely stunning. I wish I could be working from a tropical island right now, especially one that specializes in cap’n crunch rolls! It sounds so wrong, yet so intriguing…

  9. iga says:

    ALL the food and your dinner at Merriman’s is making me even more nostalgic!! We did the drive around the island as well–spending time in Volcano & then heading to Hilo and up the Hamakua coast & Waimea before heading to Kona. Your pictures are gorgeous–I wish mine came out half as good! Enjoy the rest of your time in paradise!!

  10. Sara says:

    Looks fantastic!!! Do you get your tuna in any special place? Last time I tried Whole Foods, they didn’t have any sushi-grade (AKA acceptable to eat raw, right?) fish. Maybe I should try the Korean market….

  11. Nate @ House of Annie says:

    Welcome back. The pics from the Hilo market are wonderful. So happy to see all those tropical fruits like rambutan on sale now.

    You made it to Tex’s! So jealous.

    I’m surprised you didn’t come back with some Hawaiian sea salt to flavor your poke with.

  12. Heidi @ Food Doodles says:

    Beautiful produce and flowers! And I love that tree :D

  13. Kat says:

    Want it all!

  14. Margo says:

    I hate you right now! Translation: I AM SO JEALOUS!!! I love Hawai’i and wish I were there. I just met someone from Kona and now have a standing invitation to stay at his family’home. When I go, I will definitely check out Tex’s. I miss the grindz.

  15. Susan says:

    Such a beautiful post, Jen.
    Thank you for sharing your travels, photos, and recipes!

  16. Caitlin says:

    We went to the Big Island last year for our honeymoon, and it’s one of the most beautiful and unique places I’ve ever seen. We only spent one day in Hilo, but thanks for stirring up such wonderful memories!

  17. Pauline says:

    I really like this post. Thank you for sharing your Hawii pictures, they are beautiful.

  18. The Healthy Apple says:

    This is amazing; looks like you are having a fabulous time in Hawaii…I love your pictures and wish I was eating that fabulous fish…enjoy and have fun!

  19. Kristy says:

    Yay, it’s always nice to see my home town being loved. A lot of people don’t seem to like it here, but Hilo is not a place I could ever leave. :) Since you’re in Waimea, you should check out Hawaiian Style Cafe. And if you’re back on the Hilo side, Baker Tom’s in Papaikou is a great place for malasadas as well.

  20. Christy says:

    What an awesome display of visual feast!! :) I love all the photos, and I was actually planning for a trip to Hawaii, but am not sure whether it will realize or not yet :) Your post is tempting me to make it a definite go;)

  21. Christine says:

    I LOVE Hawaii and didn’t get to spend enough time on the big Island, the last time we went. Maybe I’ll make some poke and musubi (don’t throw stones! it’s delicious) to make up for the fact that I’m here and not there.

  22. Denise-EPL says:


  23. Mollie says:

    love love love! Hawaii is where the hubs and i learned that he likes raw fish, but i have an orgasmic adoration for it. i wanted poke for breakfast. i wanted to bathe in poke. so so good – brings back great memories!

  24. Sook says:

    Mmm… I am sitting here drooling over those sushi rolls!

  25. jenyu says:

    Nicola – thanks, that’s so nice of you! I have a good source here in Boulder, but yes, it’s a favorite of mine :)

    Sara – Whole Foods in Boulder is pretty much it for me. Good luck!

    Nate – I love Tex’s :) I actually have Hawai’ian volcanic pink sea salt at home. In fact, I have TOO MUCH sea salt ;)

    Kristy – you’re so lucky to live in Hilo, what a fantastic place :) Thanks for the additional tips. xo

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  30. Joe-Poke in Hawaiian says:

    Traditional Poke has Kukui nuts rather than macadamia. Just saying. Lol

  31. Joe-Poke in Hawaiian says:

    Also Ogo seaweed

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