TAKO poke does not mean to jab with a Mexican-style sandwich made of tortillas. Tako is the Japanese word for octopus, and tako poke (pronounced POE-keh) refers to a Hawaiian delicacy made of octopus and condiments of limu (seaweed), Hawaiian sea salt, chiles and 'inamona (roasted kukui nut paste).
Presenting a trio
of tako poke tastes
Kehaulani Spencer-Boyd e-mailed, "I recently received a letter from a friend in San Francisco who is searching for the best tako poke recipe. Can you recommend a recipe that will 'broke the mout'? "
Three recipes follow -- one from Curt Okimoto, an entrant in last year's Sam Choy/Aloha Festivals poke contest, and two from the founder/namesake of the annual competition.
Okimoto, a 27-year-old diver, schoolteacher and photographer from Laie, suggests that poke preparers get fresh octopus at IGH (Independent Grocers of Hawaii) stores.
To prepare the fresh tako for cooking, he instructs: Turn the head of a fresh tako inside out, clean and rinse; then cut away the eyes and beak. Tenderize the tako by freezing, by lomilomi (massage) with Hawaiian salt, or by pounding with a dowel, 2-by-4 or other object.
"A secret of my mom is she would cut half a potato up and put it in a pot along with the tako as it boils," Okimoto says. "She claims the tako gets even more tender as it boils."
Sample more than 30 different kinds of poke at this year's Oahu preliminaries for the sixth annual Sam Choy Poke Festival. The event is open to the public at noon Saturday at the Hawaii Prince Hotel. Aloha Festivals ribbons will be on sale at the door for $5 each.
The Maui preliminary is noon Aug. 23 at Maui Prince Hotel, and the finals are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on the Big Island. For information, call Gary Manago at 882-5464.
Meanwhile, forgo the tortillas and wrap your tentacles around some tako poke.
Tako Poke(From "The Choy of Cooking -- Sam Choy's Island Cuisine,"
Mutual Publishing, 1996, $35)1 pound tako (octopus)To clean fresh octopus, turn head inside out and remove ink sac, innards and mouthparts; rinse. To tenderize fresh octopus, freeze, pound or lomi (massage).
1 ripe medium-size tomato, chopped
1 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Hawaiian red chile pepper, seeded and minced (or 1/2 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes)
To cook octopus, in a medium pot, bring enough water to cover octopus to a boil. Lower octopus into boiling water, return water to a rolling boil, then cook 2 or 3 minutes. Drain, plunge into cold water and slice into thin slices. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Makes 8 servings, each 1/2 cup.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 65 calories, 1.5 grams total fat, 0.5 gram saturated fat, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 480 milligrams sodium.*
Korean-Style Tako Poke(From "The Choy of Cooking")2 pounds fresh ogo (edible seaweed)Cut ogo in 2-inch lengths. Cook tako and slice. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Serve very cold at tailgate and backyard barbecues. Makes 6 servings, each 1/2 cup.
1 pound tako (octopus)
1 Maui onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons bottled Korean kochu jang (hot chile paste), available in Asian markets and the Asian section of supermarkets
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 65 calories, 1 gram total fat, no saturated fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 470 milligrams sodium.*
Oki's Tahitian-Style Tako Poke(By Curt Okimoto of Laie; entry in 1996 Sam Choy/
Aloha Festivals poke contest)1 pound tako (octopus)Bring tako, the 1/2 cup water, coconut milk and ginger to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until of desired firmness.
1/2 cup water
1 can (12 ounces) coconut milk
3 slices (each 1/4 inch thick) fresh ginger
2 cups cucumber, cut in about 5/16-inch dice
1/2 cup Maui onion, sliced
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup ogo, chopped
2 teaspoons kukui nut oil
1/2 tablespoon Hawaiian salt
1 teaspoon dried chile pepper flakes or to taste, optional
Discard coconut/ginger liquid. Slice tako into bite-size pieces and cool a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Makes 8 servings, each 1/2 cup.
For a more traditional poke: Omit coconut milk, and add 1 or 2 teaspoons sesame oil or to taste.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 120 calories, 7 grams total fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 540 milligrams sodium. Per serving, omitting coconut milk and adding 2 teaspoons sesame oil: 80 calories, 3 grams total fat, 0.5 gram saturated fat, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 540 milligrams sodium.*