The crowd gathered for the second annual Sam Choy Poke Contest held on March 17 at the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa as 29 professional, amateur, and high school contestants were anxiously awaiting word on whether their poke recipe was an award-winning one.
Prior to the announcement of the winners, the celebrity poke contestants were working their magic with secret ingredients that were in front of them. Gene “Bucky” Leslie of Mama’s Flowers, winner of the first annual Sam Choy Poke Celebrity Contest last year, was fighting to be able to keep the perpetual trophy for another year.
One of the contenders, Mayor Billy Kenoi, had not only fish, but gummy worms, Aloha Shoyu and Bacardi Rum and was trying to create a “westside poke.”
On the other side of the table of celebrities, Mario Quebrar, Jr. represented Suisan Fish Market here in Hilo, and with his ingredients, li hing mui gummy worms, ogo, chili water, Aloha Shoyu and Bacardi Rum, did his best with some unfamiliar items. Suisan Fish Market does not sell their poke with li hung mui gummy worms, but if it works, maybe Mario will have a poke named after him with gummy worms!
But alas, neither Mayor Billy or Mario came up with the best poke. For the first time, there was a tie in the celebrity contest with Kumu Keala Ching and Comedian Tony Silva, (the other half of The Brahdahs) both came out as duo winners, sharing the perpetual trophy.
Nakoa Pabre of Umeke’s was the Best Overall 2013 winner and the winner in the professional division with soy sauce.
Best Overall Poke
2013 Winning Poke
6 pounds fresh ahi cubes
1/2 cup kaffir lime leaves, finely diced
1/2 cup kaffir stalk, finely diced
1 cup Aloha Shoyu
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 cup sweet onions, sliced
1 cup green onion, chopped
1/8 cup Hawaiian salt Mix and serve.
5 cups cooked white rice Mix together: 1 cup rice vinegar 1 cup sugar Stir to completely dissolve sugar.
1/8 cup mirin
1/4 cup finely julienned carrots
Mix together to make sushi rice 30 inari wrappers (cone sushi) Stuff mixed sushi rice in inari wrapper and top with spicy ahi.
Spicy Ahi 2 pounds fresh ahi cubes 1 cup mayonnaise 1/8 cup Sriracha hot sauce 2 tablespoons habanero masago mix Top spicy ahi on cone sushi tops, top poke with masago.
In the professional division, traditional poke, Henry Mateo and Elmer Tabudlo of Hawaii Calls Restaurant won with this poke recipe:
Traditional Poke Henry Mateo and Elmer Tabudlo of Hawaii Calls Restaurant
3 ounce ahi, cubed 2 ounces tako, sliced 1 ounce opihi 5 ounces limu kuhu 5 ounces wanna or sea urchin 5 ounces green ogo 5 ounces waiwaiole seaweed Mix together
In the professional division, spicy poke, Henry and Elmer of Hawaii Calls Restaurant won first place again.
Spicy Poke Henry Mateo and Elmer Tabudlo of Hawaii Call Restaurant
3 ounces kampachi, cubes 2 ounces cooked tako or octopus, sliced 1 ounce cooked opihi 1 ounce red onion, diced 1 ounce green onion, sliced 1 ounce limukohu 1 ounce green ogo 5 ounces kukui nut (inamona) 2 pieces Hawaiian chili pepper, diced 1 ounce Aloha Shoyu Pinch of rock salt 5 ounces red tobiko 5 ounces wanna or sea urchin Mix together.
Konawaena High School culinary student Cameron Linden took top honors, winning $300 donated by Sun Dried Specialties.
Cameron’s Poke By Cameron Linden
2 whole ahi steaks 1 tablespoon cashews 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt 2 tablespoons Aloha Shoyu 1 teaspoon tobiko (flying fish roe) 1tablespoon minced lemongrass 3/4 cup finely diced white onion 1/4 cup green ogo(seaweed, produced at OTEC) 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds 1 hot chili pepper
Optional ingredients for presentation: nori sheets, wonton sheets, furikake
Poke: Mince lemongrass and let it soak in soy sauce for 30 minutes. Strain. Mince chili pepper, and all other ingredients, except ahi together. Chop ahi into bite-size pieces. Gently mix ahi in the mixture until completely combined.
In the amateur, spicy division, Christopher Todd won with his recipe.
Spicy Poke Description: Spicy ahi with mirin-inamona pesto sauce, served in avocado bowl
Mirin-Inamona Pesto Sauce 1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves 2 tablespoons inamona, divided 1 clove garlic 4 tablespoons mirin 1 small Hawaiian chili pepper, minced 1/4 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt 2 tablespoons coconut milk
Spicy Ahi(with Hawaiian chili peppers) 1/2 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt 2 tablespoons sesame oil 1 pound ahi, cut into 1/2 inch cubes 4 tablespoons mayonnaise 1 small Hawaiian chili pepper, minced 1/3 cup green onion, diced 1/4 cup Maui onion, diced 2 tablespoons masago (roe of capelin fish, member of the salmon family of fish) 2 tablespoons sriracha hot sauce
Other: Avocado, halved and pitted Inamona, green onion, and coconut milk for garnish
Poke is served in avocado bowl topped with bed of mirin-inamona pesto. Poke is served with sprinkle or diced green onion, inamona, and drizzle of coconut milk as garnish. Tasting portions for spectators will be served with bed of avocado, but not full avocado bowl.
Instructions: Puree Thai basil, garlic, mirin, chili pepper, sea salt, coconut milk, and one tablespoon inamona, in food processor until smooth. Mix in remaining 1 tablespoon inamona. Season poke cubes with sesame oil and sea salt. Add remaining ingredients and mix until sriracha is fully integrated with mayonnaise and no red streaks of color remain. Cut avocado in half and remove seed. Scoop out portion of avocado from middle to allow for more space for poke. Spread 1 tablespoon mirin-inamona pesto in avocado bowl, then top with scoop of poke, garnish with a sprinkle of green onion, inamona, and a drizzle of coconut milk.
In the non-professional division, Sabine-Maeva Andresen won second place in the soy sauce division with an interesting twist, sauerkraut.
The Kraut-Ahi Poke Sabine-Maeva Anresen A German touch on Hawaiian Poke
Mix together: 6 pound ahi, cubed 1 Maui onion,. Diced 2 tablespoons sesame oil 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds 2 tablespoons garlic 1-1/2 tablespoons crushed red pepper 1 teaspoon ginger, grated 4 cups freshly made sauerkraut 2-1/2 cups Aloha Shoyu 2 cups ogo seaweed 1-1/2 cups green onion 1/2 cup brewed 100% Kona coffee
The admission fee of $5 went to the Hawaii Community College Palamanui Facility, which raised $5,000 at this event. Working very hard to make Palamanui a reality were Jean Hull and Jim Lightner. There is currently a challenge by an anonymous donor to match any donation one for one. In other words, a 40 quart mixer with a price tag of $11,930.63 can be purchased for $5,965.32, with the donor kicking in the other half to purchase the mixer. Jean explained that the project is a ten step program, with a goal of ten million dollars.
Inamona is derived from kukui nuts that have fallen to the ground. Harvest the dark nut, roast the kukui nuts in a 325 degree oven for about 1-1/2 hours. Cool, then crack the hard nut open and remove the dark brown insides. Place in food processor until ground up. Add Hawaiian salt to taste. Use sparingly as it as a high oil content.
There were several booths outside that were very interesting. Kona Moringa of Captain Cook dries the moringa oleifera leaves into a powder and is sold in the powder form or in capsules. I have written about the health benefits of malungay, both its leaves and the drumstick about its numerous amounts of vitamins and minerals. It has been used as a traditional medicine in Ayuvedic medicine in India for many centuries and it is interesting that it is now available to be taken daily as a supplement. In India, is used to treat anemia, anxiety, asthma, blood impurities, bronchitis, chest congestion, diarrhea, ear and eye infections, fever, psoriasis, sore throat, tuberculosis. In the Philippines, it is used to treat anemia, glandular swelling and lactating. In Malaysia and Puerto Rico, moringa is used to treat intestinal worms and in Guatemala, it is used to treat skin infections and sores. Their phone number is 315-2917 and email:info@KonaMoringa.com for more information. Both the powder and capsules cost $15.
Shayne Keahi and Michelle Tomas own Keahi ‘Ena ‘Ena or The Burning Embers and sell poi pounders and poi boards. Taro is steamed for over 2 hours to be sure all the oxalic acid is cooked out and then is pounded on his beautifully made board with his poi pounders. After about 5-10 minutes, (Michelle said it depended on how much he talked) of “pa’i’ai” or “to spank” and then very little water, or “kui kui” the poi started to come together or “hui ka’ai” into a ball. The fresh poi was absolutely delicious, with the true flavors of taro coming clearly through.
One vendor, called Aquaponics Honaunau has over 1,000 tilapia in tanks, pumps the water into hydroponic flats and raises bok choy, Asian greens, lettuce and green onions. They sell their greens to Sam Choy Restaurant in Keauhou. I bought a bunch of green onions, brought them home, and sliced it and placed it in a plastic container wrapped in paper towels. This, I found is the best way to keep green onions for a long time. The green onions are so tender, unlike those planted in soil.
Hawaii Community College is closed due to spring break this week.