Happy Birthday, Baby!
For R's birthday, we generally have rack of lamb or Dungeness crab, depending on his mood, the crab season start, and the proximity of his birthday to Thanksgiving. This year was a crab year, and that meant all the trimmings, which in our house includes tuna poke. It's not as weird as you might think, cracked crab, sourdough bread and poki, since I used to get my crab at the recently sold Yum Yum fish out in the Sunset. Yum Yum was operated by two ecentrics, one French the other Japanese. They had a lovely fish case and I would often try one of their sushi-grade fish when I stopped by for my crab order.
This is my first year without Yum Yum. While I miss the quirkiness of my old friends, Swan Oyster Depot has personality to spare, and Nijiya does have a well-stocked sushi-grade case. I picked out lots of tuna, octopus and tobiko for our feast, and MZ loved the deer at Japantown, already in place for the winter holidays.
My poke isn't totally authentic, I've never added ogo or kikui nut, due to sourcing issues, and mine is shoyu-style, so no Hawaiian salt. But it took a lot of fiddling to arrive at this combination, we only taste the difference immediately upon arriving home from The Islands.
Ahi Tuna or Octopus Poke
The recipe is the same whichever seafood you choose to use, just give the octopus an extra 30 minutes for the flavors to permeate. The tobiko gives it a luscious look and an interesting mouthfeel. I made a shrimp version for MZ, with some ebi from the sushi case, and she loved it! That's my girl...
1/4 cup finely diced sweet onion
1/2 cup green onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
1/3 c soy sauce
2 T mirin
1 good shake togarishi shimichi, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or 1 seeded Thai bird chile, minced
1/2 t freshly grated ginger with juice
1 lb. sushi-grade ahi, cut to 1 cm dice
2 t toasted sesame seeds, halved (a combination of black and white looks lovely)
1 T toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup tobiko
Combine the sweet onion, the white part of the green onion and the soy, mirin, chile or pepper flakes, garlic and ginger while dicing the ahi. Add the ahi, one half of the sesame seeds and 1/2 of the tobiko. Stir gently to combine, add the sesame oil and stir again. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the green part of the green onions, and sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds and tobiko. Enjoy on fried wonton chips, cucumber slices or a fork.