Ginger-Ponzu Salmon Poke

Salmon is tossed with ponzu and ginger to make a poke that is perfect served over cooked rice. Ask your fishmonger about sushi-grade salmon suitable for poke.

Ginger-Ponzu Salmon Poke
Total Time:
20 mins

"It's not Thanksgiving without poke!" the classics scholar–turned–chef Kiki Aranita says.

Most years, she travels to Hawai'i for family potlucks that are attended by about 60 people. Everyone is assigned a task, and Aranita, soon after flying in from the mainland, is usually on food-pickup duty to obtain her family's favorite poke varieties: shoyu ahi, spicy ahi with a mayo base, and octopus.

Poke is a new thing to many, but Native Hawaiians were preparing it long before Captain James Cook arrived in the 1700s. The Aranitas serve the dish alongside gau gee (fried wontons) and Kiki's aunt Dianne's spinach dip and crispy lavash. Then there's turkey, cranberry sauce, grilled whole fish, poi, fried rice, saimin noodles, potato-macaroni salad, California rolls, inari sushi, Spam musubi, and pie. The menu blends the clan's Filipino, Japanese, and Hawaiian roots.

"The food of Hawai'i is like the food of the 1950s U.S. but filtered through a tropical lens," Aranita says. "These things feel very American to me."

When Aranita attends Friendsgiving potlucks on the mainland, she makes poke, a signature dish at Poi Dog, her former Philadelphia restaurant. Poke means "to dice" or "to cut" in Hawaiian, but many assume that poke is only made with ahi tuna, she says. There are steak, tofu, and breadfruit renditions, too.

In Aranita's remarkable salmon poke, Korean perilla oil (available at Korean markets and online at adds an elegant lusciousness that doesn't overwhelm the salmon; if available, the seeds add delicate nuttiness. Regular ponzu works fine, but her Poi Dog Maui Lavender Ponzu ( (available online at brightens with delicate, smoky tang. Alaea sea salt is available online at can serve the poke atop short-grain white rice as a poke bowl, or nosh on the seasoned fish as a pupu with fried wonton skin chips or wrapped in pieces of gim (roasted seaweed snacks). Ask your fishmonger about sushi-grade salmon suitable for poke. Leftovers of Aranita's elegant salmon poke may be quickly seared in neutral oil (such as vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, or sunflower oil) and then served with fried eggs and rice, she says. So make a giant batch, and send extras home with guests. They'll thank you for your generous aloha spirit. — Andrea Nguyen


  • 2 tablespoons ponzu (such as Poi Dog Maui Lavender Ponzu), plus more to taste

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions (from 2 medium scallions), plus more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced fresh shiso (Japanese or Vietnamese) (about 6 leaves), plus more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon crushed unsalted roasted macadamia nuts, plus more to taste

  • 2 teaspoons perilla oil, plus more to taste

  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger (from 1 [2-inch] piece), plus more to taste

  • 1 pound skinless sushi-grade salmon fillet

  • Alaea sea salt or Maldon sea salt, to taste

  • Toasted shiso seeds (perilla seeds) or white sesame seeds

  • Cooked short-grain white rice, fried wonton skin chips, or gim (dried seaweed), for serving (optional)


  1. Stir together ponzu, scallions, shiso, macadamia nuts, perilla oil, and ginger in a medium bowl. (Mixture will be slightly creamy.)

  2. Cut salmon into bite-size (about 3/4-inch) cubes using a sharp knife. Add salmon to ponzu mixture in bowl; gently stir together until well coated.

  3. Season with salt to taste. Adjust flavors with additional ponzu (umami tang), scallions (pungency), shiso (brightness), macadamia nuts (creaminess), perilla oil (velvety richness), ginger (heat), and/or salt (texture) to taste. Garnish with shiso seeds; serve immediately with desired accompaniments.

Make Ahead

Poke can be made up to 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator. Re-season before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Substantial, spicy rosé: Domaine de la Begude Bandol Rosé

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