This is one of the most delicious dinners I have put on our table this year.
The wild-caught Norwegian salmon is out of this world. The avocado is perfect in its creaminess. The tomatoes give just the right tartness. The cucumber cools against the heat of the spicy Asian sauce. Those spring onions add flavor. And they’re all perched atop a serving of Sticky Rice. It’s heaven on a plate. It’s from Nadija Hussain, one of my favorite British cooks. Nadija’s specialty is creating miraculous meals in as little time as possible. And she delivers in spectacular fashion with this recipe from her “Nadija’s Time to Eat”, streaming on Netflix. Nadija’s appeared here before. (You’ll find her contributions below today’s recipe.) But first, this dish comes with a side of controversy.
Two of my favorite people would tell you, this isn’t Poke…
And it isn’t pronounced Pokay either, sorry Nadija! The original Poke (two syllables with a hard “k”) consists of just chopped raw fish—generally moi or oio or ahi tuna—rubbed with just 3 ingredients—Fresh seaweed, sea salt, and chopped roasted kukui nuts. There’s certainly no mayonnaise dressing. Poke is served atop rice. But even the use of Salmon, wildly popular in Hawai’i though not native, is a stretch. In Hawai’i, Salmon is most commonly cut into small cubes and cured in salt to make lomi lomi. It’s an integral part of most Hawai’ian gatherings like traditional luaus. So how did “Poke Bowls” get so popular on the mainland? In 2012, “Bowls” became a health food craze. And there’s no denying that Poke in any incarnation is healthy. Its low-fat content is matched by its omega-3 fatty acids in the fish. But Native Hawai’ians just wish you wouldn’t call it Poke.
Poke has been made in Hawaii since the Polynesians arrived in 400 BC.
The word itself means ‘to slice or cut crosswise into pieces’. Poke is a staple in Hawai’i. And proudly so. Another one of my favorite people, also a native Hawai’ian, put it this way: “Some people just do not have the wherewithal to put themselves in other people’s shoes or know the importance of educating oneself before staking claim of something. Let these folks eat what they want, just don’t call it Poke. Raw fish rice bowl/salad is a name that will suffice for the already low standards of the “American” palate.” Nadija Hussain, the British- born granddaughter of Bangladeshi Rice Farmers might even agree. But whatever it is called, this is one wonderful dish to make. Here’s the recipe as I adapted it.
Nadija Hussain's Salmon Poke Bowls
A perfectly wonderful dish for dinner, this combination of Sushi-grade salmon and a plethora of vegetables is a keeper. Just don't call it Poke.
- For the Rice:
- 500g/1lb 2oz sushi rice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp. Sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- For the Sauce
- 25g/1oz mayonnaise
- 3 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp Sriracha sauce
- Juice from 1 lemon
- For the Bowls
- 2 Sushi-grade salmon fillets (about 1 lb for 4 people, .5 lb for two)*
- 1 large avocado
- ½ English Cucumber, sliced thin
- 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes halved
- A handful of salted peanuts
- 2 spring onions (scallions) sliced on the bias
- A handful of black sesame seeds
- *I used Wild-Caught Norwegian Salmon
- Step 1 To cook the rice, put it in a saucepan and rinse it in cold water until the water is clear. Add water until the rice is covered by ½ inch. Turn the heat up to high and stir the rice continuously until the water is boiling. Then turn down the heat to simmer until all the water has evaporated. This is the longest prep time for this easy dish as it takes about 10-15 minutes.
- Step 2 Slice the salmon into small pieces
- Step 3 Put the salmon into a bowl.
- Step 4 Make the sauce: In a bowl combine the mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, and fish sauce and mix it together. Season with Black Pepper
- Step 5 Chop the spring onions, halve the tomatoes, slice the cucumber and the avocado.
- Step 6 Add salt, sugar, and vinegar to the rice
- Step 7 Spoon several heaping tablespoons of rice into a bowl and top it with the salmon, cucumber, tomatoes, green onions (scallions), and peanuts. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Serve, passing the mayonnaise dressing to pour over the salmon