Salmon Poke with Furikake

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  6 servings
Prep Time:  25 minutes Cook Time:  0 minutes

Salmon Poke with Furikake

I say okay to poke in a big way. And I'm not making a reference to the latest Pokemon game craze, either. I'm talking about the Hawaiian dish (pronounced POH-kee—well, that's kind of like the game), which is a raw (or lightly seared) fish salad. I first ate it on a visit to Hawaii over two decades ago, and as an unabashed sushi and sashimi eater, it was love at first bite. Make sure to get sushi-grade fish, use a killer-sharp knife so you don’t squish the delicate fish, and you can’t go wrong. This is the sort of dish in which quality and care matter more than ever. I don't cut corners—for example, I sometimes skip removing the green germ inside the garlic if it’s small, but not in this dish. It’s also worth the cost of the very best fish you can find, and stick to the most sustainable salmon you can find (see Kitchen Tips). Serve over a green salad, chilled buckwheat (soba) or rice noodles, or in a lettuce wrap. If you cut the fish into the smaller-sized pieces, it will fit nicely into a flat-bottomed Asian spoon for an elegant passed appetizer.

Ingredients

1 pound salmon or arctic char fillets, skin removed, chilled (see Kitchen Tips)

10 garlic chives or large chives or 3 scallions, trimmed and sliced into ¼-inch pieces (about ½ cup)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced or grated, any green centers discarded

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, black and tan Gomasio preferred (see Kitchen Tips)

3 teaspoons sweet soy sauce or 2 teaspoons soy sauce and 1 tablespoon honey (see Kitchen Tips)

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon hot chili paste such as sambal, gochujang, or sriracha, optional

2 to 3 tablespoons furikake 

Instructions

  1. Add about 1 cup of ice to large mixing bowl and nestle a medium-sized mixing bowl securely into it. Place the fish on a work surface, and with a sharp knife, slice it into ½- to ¾-inch cubes, and place them into the bowl.
  2. Add the chives or scallions, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil and hot chili paste, if using, and mix gently to coat.
  3. Sprinkle the furikake into the mixture and mix gently. Serve immediately.

Kitchen Tips

  1. Sweet soy sauce just what it sounds like: soy sauce to which a sweetener has been added, which results in a salty-sweet flavor. The particular sweetener used varies from place to place. In Indonesia, it’s palm sugar, used in combination with other spices such as star anise and galangal (which is similar to ginger); the result is called kecap manis. It’s probably the best-known sweet soy sauce in the United States, but there are other versions from Japan and Korea, where ingredients like mirin, the sweet Japanese rice wine, or other sugars are added. For me, I like the kecap manis best  in this recipe, but any sweetened soy sauce will work, including one you make yourself with the formula shown above.
  2. Toasted sesame seeds are available commercially, but if you can’t find them, or if you would like to toast them yourself, it’s easy: pour the whole seeds into a frying pan or cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Toast for 10 to 20 seconds, or until fragrant. Watch carefully so they do not burn.
  3. I follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch as best as I can, and if you care about this planet’s health and vitality, I encourage you to do the same.  I use their app too. They have specific  recommendations for each species, so it’s great to be able to open the app and compare to what’s in your local market and find the best and most sustainable fish that’s available to you.
  4. When buying fish that will not be cooked through, it’s vital to understand the importance of safe temperatures and proper handling. Always ask the fishmonger if the fish has been properly frozen for eating raw. There is no “sushi-grade” fish, at least as noted by the Food and Drug Administration or the US Department of Agriculture—or any organization at all. It’s a self-serving marketing term. It may, however, be an indication that the fish is properly prepared and ready to be eaten raw, and that is very important to know. Crucial, in fact. No matter how the fish is labelled, you must ask the fishmonger or manager—not the counter person—if it has been frozen and defrosted at the prescribed temperatures and is safe and ready to eat raw, sushi style. Any good, trustworthy fishmonger will know and will tell you the truth. If they don’t (and you may well get sick) don’t ever go back.
  5. Note that fish that’s eaten raw is generally safe for most people, but if someone at your table has a weakened immune system, even if it has been frozen properly, it might be best to avoid it. Uncooked fish can harbor bacteria and/or parasites that can cause illness. To learn more, read my post on the subject: Fish, Raw and Ready?
  6. Or check out these articles:

         For safety, the rules regarding fish are :

  • Cooking
    • Cook to an internal temperature of at least 145° F  or about 63° C.
  • Freezing
    • At -4°F (-20°C) or below for 7 days (total time), or
    • At -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid, and storing at -31°F (-35°C) or below for 15 hours, or
    • At -31°F (-35°C) or below until solid and storing at -4°F (-20°C) or below for 24 hours.

         It’s no shock that a large Asian market with a quick turnover and clean work areas is your
best bet, but I love my local fishmonger, and he gets great fish.

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