The Big Island got its poke on this weekend at Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest held at the Sheraton Kona. Poke (poh-KAY) is the “soul food of Hawaii,” according to Choy, and is traditionally prepared with raw fish, sea salt, seaweed, spices, and kukui nuts.
Contestants put their “braggin’ in the bowl” in many creative ways, stretching the concept of traditional poke into several other categories including spicy, cooked, with soy sauce, sushi style, and non-seafood entries. Professionals and amateurs were both invited to compete.
|My Mexican-themed table display|
Creative table displays accompanied the contest entries as poke chefs presented their work to the judges. Winners were announced after poke tastings were offered to the public for a small fee that benefited the $1 million Equip the Kitchens Campaign for the future Hawai‘i Community College-Palamanui. A complete list of winners can be found here: Poke Contest Results.
The event also included live music, Hawaiian cultural demonstrations, and an island marketplace featuring locally made products.
|Guacamole Poke (photo by Fern Gavelek)|
Did I enter? You know it! My Guacamole Poke grabbed 2nd place in the amateur cooked category, see recipe below. I was especially impressed with the other amateur entries this year including a beautiful traditional recipe featuring opelu and opihi by Aunty Margie Hanselman, a fancy lobster entry by high schooler Alexis Fujikawa, and a very special venison recipe by hunter Ryan Koyanagi.
Poke has deep roots in Hawaiian culture. I love that. I also love that poke has evolved over the decades to incorporate the many cultures that have found a home on the islands, too. It is at once a revered cultural dish as well as a representation of the cultural mixture that makes up Hawaii today. I hope you get the chance to enjoy some soon.
1 lb Kona Kampachi filets (introduced to me by the late Guy Toyama, please support a cause Guy would have been proud of here: Memorial Fund info)
2 TBL Hawaiian mac nut oil
salt to taste