'Tis I, Kahlua Pig, once again.
So...what are we looking at exactly? This is Ahi Poke ("A-hee POKE-kee"). This dish is, perhaps, one of the most coveted island delicacies in all of Hawaii. The ingenuity of the dish is in the simplicity of the ingredients: chunks of "ahi" (tuna), "limu" (local seaweed), a dash of rock salt, soy sauce, and sesame seed oil, and you have what is arguably the most delicious island meal known to locals and tourists alike.
My favorite place to get this has always been at the Foodland at Ala Moana. At $9.99 a lbs., it's worth every scrumptious, fresh bite! I remember, when I left for the Mainland back in 1993, how heartbroken I was to leave behind one of my favorite dishes. Literally heartbroken (or "tummy broken", as Emlyn would say).
Ahi Poke, for me, represents my journey in Hawaii. When I first tasted Ahi Poke, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It's freshness and simplicity baffled me. "What is this?", I asked. The minute I heard "raw fish", my 12 year-old sensibilities made me gag. How could ANYONE eat this???
But despite my initial revulsion, I found myself being drawn to it again and again. Through my teenage years, this was my favorite local dish. When I left Hawaii for the East Coast, I knew I'd miss this dish most of all.
Much like Hawaii itself, it is fresh, original, bold, and laid-back...qualities that, to the uninitiated, can be off-putting at first. When we realize that our reaction is based on our own inhibitions, our own timidness, and simply allow ourselves to "hang loose", as they say in the islands, we find ourselves...enjoying ourselves. The rich flavors of ahi poke, or a simple breeze from the Pacific, or some distant moonlight that illuminates what seems like a hidden path underneath the dark waves...what majesty we find 0n a rock formed by a volcano in the middle of the ocean.
A majesty that we cannot explain to others who have not experienced it for themselves.
So it is my hope that with these pictures, you can sense one of my beloved foods of all time. Raw tuna, seaweed, and aloha spirit: Ahi Poke.