Poke is the new craze. At least in Los Angeles, there a new poke house everywhere you turn! Yes, there is also a Pokemon craze, but let’s not get sidetracked. If you aren’t aware of what poke is, it’s basically a sushi bowl, made with various types of fish, some sort of base, and a whole lot of toppings, sauces, and sprinkles. Some say it's Hawaiian, some say Japanese. Either way, I LOVE poke, but what do I really think about its benefits? Are they worth the hype? With the right fish choices, poke can be high in lean protein, and an overall light lunch or dinner option that is well balanced with its macronutrients. Coupled with the healthier toppings, like avocado, sprouts, and all the veggies, you will be treating yourself to all the wonderful micronutrients, too. On the flip side, the not-so-healthy choices can actually cause you to do more harm than good. Top on the California crab, spicy mayo, and all the sauces, and you have yourself a carb- and fat-heavy meal that will put you to sleep and make you feel yucky inside.
So what do I recommend during a poke outing? I mean, is there a safe order when it comes to poke? Last week, I had poke for four days straight (don’t ask why…and I also don’t recommend it 4 times in a row), but if you’re going to have it once in a while, here’s what I recommend:
*Base choice: skip the rice. Instead, choose the leafy greens/salad as the base.
*Fish choice: I LOVE spicy tuna, but most places use spicy mayo to add the spice. Ask what goes in there – if they say chili oil and no spicy mayo, you’re safe. Other good choices include the ahi tuna, albacore, salmon and yellowtail. Again, find out what the sauces are before committing.
*Toppings: your best bets are all the veggies (usually cucumber, tomato, onion, bean sprouts) and avocado. Skip the fried onion/garlic, seaweed salad (usually not gluten-free because of the soy sauce), and edamame (generally speaking, I’m not a proponent of soy for various reasons, but I’ll save that for another time). I also recommend getting a LOT of ginger – you either love it or you hate it, but even if you hate it, force it down. It is honestly one of the best root veggies out there and will help you digest your meal. Top it off with sesame seeds and you’re all set!
*Sauces: I’m not a sauce person, but I’ve been digging the garlic ponzu sauce. As mentioned above, I’d skip the soy, spicy mayo, and even teriyaki. Try the vinaigrettes or the ponzu sauces to be safer.
Conclusion: It's super easy to make poor decisions with poke. Stay focused, and remember that the smallest things can make all the difference. And ask your questions! The quality of your bowl all depends what choices you make. Not all poke is created equal.