Hawaiʻi folks, our secret is out. If you’ve been paying even a shred of attention to the foodie scene and culinary trendsetters on the mainland, you already know that poke is the new dining darling.
For the uninitiated: While poke—pronounced “po-kay”—takes on a number of variations, it’s basically diced raw fish that’s seasoned with things like shoyu (soy sauce), limu (seaweed), salt, etc. This local favorite is a staple at backyard barbecues, beach days, and family parties. (Heck, it’s not really a party if poke isn’t somewhere in the spread.) Here on Maui, chances are you’re never more than a few miles from a poke source—from white tablecloth venues and trendy bars to supermarkets and food trucks.
The Westin Kāʻanapali Ocean Resort Villas is shining a spotlight on our beloved dish this holiday season. From December 14 through December 25, the resort’s new restaurant, Auntie’s Kitchen, will host “The 12 Days of Poke.” It will serve a different poke dish each day (12 types of poke in total), in addition to its regular menu. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Imua Family Services, a Maui County nonprofit organization with the mission of “empowering families and their children to reach their full potential.”
In Hawaiian, poke means “to slice.” It is ubiquitous with raw fish, but poke can be made without fish. Created by Chef Tanya Doyle and Chef Brian Murphy, “The 12 Days of Poke” at Auntie’s Kitchen includes the more traditional preparations with sashimi-grade fish, plus not-so-classic preparations, such as non-fish-based poke. Poke dishes will include:
- Curry-stmas: ‘ahi with onions, apples, dried cranberries and toasted cashews tossed in curry oil (recipe below)
- Tutu’s Big Fat Pigs: pork belly crisp with onions, tomatoes, vinegar, shoyu, patis and lime juice
- Melon Kalikimaka: li hing mui compressed watermelon cubes with vanilla simple syrup, fingerlimes and toasted black sesame seeds
- North Pole Poke: salmon with onions, green onions, sesame oil and alaea salt
If you go: Auntie’s Kitchen, which replaced Ocean Pool Bar and Grill in the same venue poolside off of The Westin Kā‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas’ south lobby earlier this fall, is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., with breakfast served until 10:30 a.m. Happy Hour is offered daily from 3 to 5 p.m. (excluding holidays and special events). Enjoy live music from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday and Friday (schedule subject to change, so call ahead if you have your heart set on the music). Self-parking is complimentary. For more information or to make a reservation, call 808.667.3254 or visit WestinKaanapali.com/dining.
And if you can’t make it to Auntie’s Kitchen, try the DIY approach with this simple recipe:
Curry-stmas Poke Recipe
- 4 oz ʻahi, diced
- 1 oz sweet onion, diced
- 1 oz apples, julienne
- 1 oz dried cranberries
- 1 tbsp cashews
- 2 oz curry oil
Toss all ingredients in a bowl and serve over hot rice.