Shoyu Ahi Poke (Hawaiian Tuna Poke Recipe)

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Learn how to make delicious at-home poke using my Hawaiian mom's Shoyu Ahi Poke recipe! Simply fold raw cubed ahi tuna, sweet onion, & seaweed into a homemade poke sauce made with shoyu & sesame oil. The ahi soaks up tons of aromatic flavor, creating a fresh, oceanic, flavor-forward, and no-cook seafood dish. Enjoy as a pupu (appetizer), over white rice, or in a poke bowla true taste of Hawai’i at home! 🌺🤙🏼
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A close up and macro shot of ahi poke inside of a small ceramic bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. The ahi poke has been garnished with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion. A small blue and white bowl filled with white rice rests alongside the bowl of tuna poke at center.

Nothing Tastes More Like Hawai’i Than Shoyu Poke!

When I visit family in Hawaii I have 3 personal objectives: soak in as much Hawaiian sun as possible, grab every gas station or supermarket musubi that crosses my path (IYKYK! 😉🤙🏼), and eat poke every single day. My dream life!

The thing is, the beauty of poke is the place where it comes from! Locally-caught fish, Hawaiian sea salt, and fresh seaweed are more than just ingredients – they’re flavors from the island that make the dish a true celebration of Hawai’i. To me, that’s what makes enjoying poke in Hawaii such a special treat.

A special dish for a special place. Ahi tuna poke represents so many of the wonderful flavors Hawai’i has to offer and this recipe helps you make it from home!

Unfortunately, I don’t live my dream Hawaiian island life all year round, so this homemade poke recipe is the next best thing. Mom and I have worked closely to honor the tradition of Hawaiian poke in this recipe by sourcing traditional ingredients while still making it easy and accessible on the mainland.

The result is fresh, oceanic flavors and classic poke textures that will instantly transport you to Hawaii.

Serve over rice, in a fresh poke bowl, or all its own – it’s as close to the islands as you can get and I can’t wait for you to try it! 🌺

Ahi poke fills of a small ceramic bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. It is garnished with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion. A small blue and white bowl filled with white rice rests alongside the bowl of tuna poke at center.
With the right ingredients, you can make poke right from your own home!

What is Hawaiian Poke?

My family has been obsessively eating Hawaiian poke for decades, but it wasn’t until recently that poke became a sensation on the mainland. Here’s what you need to know…

Poke, pronounced “poh-keh” (or “po-KAY” with a Minnesota accent 😉),  is a staple in Hawaiian cuisine that you’ll find everywhere on the islands. In the Hawaiian language, poke means “cut into chunks” which describes the way the fresh fish is prepared. It was first created by native Hawaiian fishermen who would slice up small reef fish as they caught them. After dicing the raw fish into chunks, the fishermen would season it with easily accessible ingredients like sea salt, kukui nuts, and seaweed.

Today poke is made with all kinds of seafood and seasonings and enjoyed by all kinds of people around the world, but real deal, authentic poke continues to celebrate Hawaiian ingredients from both the land and sea.

Supermarkets have giant cases with endless varieties of poke and locals often enjoy it for a meal or as a snack. Ahi poke is a type of poke made with ahi tuna. It’s probably my all-time fave, especially when it’s made with shoyu (the Japanese-style soy sauce that’s most commonly used in Hawaii).

Shoyu poke fills a small ceramic bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. It is garnished with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion. A small blue and white bowl filled with white rice rests alongside the bowl of tuna poke at center.
Ahi poke is balanced and full of flavor – its the next best thing to visiting the islands themsleves.

Key Ingredients

Part of what makes Hawaiian poke so special is the use of fresh ingredients from right on the island. I often consider Hawaii to be an essential ingredient – the place is the essence of this dish!

That being said, you can still honor the tradition of Hawaiian poke here on the mainland. The key is taking the time to source traditional ingredients and the freshest fish you can find.

Most of your effort will go into gathering ingredients instead of making the actual seafood dish, but it’s an essential and worthwhile step!

Sashimi-grade ahi tuna steak sits atop a dark green plastic cutting board that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. Portions of the tuna have been diced and rest alongside the larger piece of ahi tuna steak with a paring knife resting atop the cutting board.
Fresh is best! Search for the best quality ahi tuna you can find and be sure to dice into bite-sized chunks.
Packages of Inamona, Hawaiian dried ogo, and Hawaiian sea salt are arranged on a creamy white textured surface.
It’s well worth taking the time to source the best ingredients to achieve the best flavor in this ahi tuna poke recipe.

Here’s what you need to make this easy seafood dinner…

  • Ahi tuna – In Hawaii, “ahi” is used to describe yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna. It’s super important to use the best-quality fresh tuna that you can find since it’s the star and we’ll be preparing it raw (refer to the Ingredient Spotlight, below, for some sourcing tips!). Be sure to dice the ahi tuna into bite-sized pieces or 1-inch cubes – a dice is essential to poke!
  • Onions – Poke is almost always made with Maui onion in Hawaii. For this recipe, you can use a combination of thinly sliced sweet onion (any variety will do, even yellow onion and shallots work in a pinch!) and green onion/scallion.
  • Shoyu – This Japanese-style soy sauce is a staple in Hawaii and the base of the shoyu poke sauce. It has a more mellow flavor than other soy sauces, so I encourage you to seek it out. My favorite brand is Aloha Shoyu, which is brewed right in Hawaii. If you cannot find shoyu, feel free to use whatever soy sauce you keep on hand.
  • Sesame – Both toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds!
  • Chopped nutsInamona is a finely grated roasted kukui nut, which comes from Hawaii’s official state tree. It’s a crucial ingredient to real Hawaiian poke! Inamona can be difficult to come by on the mainland, so your best bet is to order online. If you cannot find Inamona nuts, feel free to swap them out with toasted macadamia nuts, which have a similar mild flavor and meaty texture.
  • SeaweedOgu and limu are varieties of Hawaiian seaweed that add a crunch and briny, oceanic flavor to shoyu poke. Here on the mainland, your best bet is to order dried seaweed online and rehydrate it.
  • Hawaiian sea salt – Another crucial ingredient! Hawaiian sea salt is richer in minerals and less “salty” than other varieties. I use ‘Alaea salt (a red clay salt) or this Hawaiian sea salt. Use a coarse rock-style salt if you can’t get your hands on authentic Hawaiian salt.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes – For just a little heat!

Sourcing tips! ⇢ While Hawaiian seafood is unbeatable, you can still make amazing poke on the mainland with whatever fresh fish is available. It’s super important to source the fish from somewhere you trust since you’re preparing it raw. A few tips…

  • Many people swear by using sushi-grade or sashimi grade ahi tuna, but it’s worth noting that these designations are very loosely regulated. The U.S. does not have a national governing body that grades fish the same way we grade other proteins like beef!
  • Instead, my best advice is to source raw fish from a local fishmonger – they’ll have the best knowledge about what is fresh! 👍🏼

How to Make Ahi Poke in 2 Simple Steps!

Mom’s ahi poke recipe couldn’t be any easier to make – it’s a simple 2-step process with no cooking involved!

Ahi tuna, sweet onion, green onions, ogo or limu, shoyu, toasted sesame oil, Hawaiian sea salt, Inamona, toasted sesame seeds, and crushed red pepper fill a large ceramic bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
Ahi poke comes together so quickly – simply combine all ingredients in a bowl and gently toss together.
Shoyu ahi poke fills a large ceramic bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. A spatula rests inside of the bowl for mixing.
Let the mixed poke rest and the flavors meld together then serve on its own, over rice or as a poke bowl.
1

Mix the ingredients. Combine the diced ahi cubes with the sliced onions, shoyu, sesame oil, Hawaiian sea salt, nuts, seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, and crushed red pepper in a large bowl. Then stir gently to coat the bite-sized pieces in the marinade. Remember! ⇢ Raw fish is super delicate, so gentle handling is key.

2

Marinate the ahi tuna. Cover and store the bowl of ahi poke in your fridge, letting it rest for at least an hour. As it sits, the ahi soaks up tons of aromatic notes to accentuate the natural oceanic flavor of the tuna and the natural acidity of the shoyu sauce helps break down the connective tissue in the tuna. You can’t rush this!

That’s it! Making tuna poke at home is all about taking the time to gather the right ingredients and allow the fresh fish to marinate. Once you’ve done that, delicious ahi poke is a given!

An overhead and close up macro shot of ahi poke inside of a small ceramic bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. It is garnished with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion. A small blue and white bowl filled with white rice and a pair of wooden chopsticks rests alongside the bowl of tuna poke at center.
This simple recipe will have you craving ahi poke all year long!

Serving Suggestions

This ahi poke recipe can be enjoyed in many different ways, but at my house, we tend to share the belief that simple is best. You don’t need much else when you have fresh ahi tuna and show-stopping Hawaiian ingredients!

Some of our favorite ways to enjoy ahi poke are…

  • On its own. In Hawaii, we often eat ahi poke as a pupu (appetizer), savoring its deliciousness all on its own. It’s truly all you need! 😋
  • On a bed of warm white rice. Sticky white rice, like short grain rice or sushi rice, absorbs the poke sauce deliciously and is an easy way to turn ahi poke into a heartier main course. If you prefer brown rice, go for it!
  • In a poke bowl. Here on the mainland, you’ll find poke bowls made with all types of ingredients – mango, pineapple, veggies, carrots, peppers, edamame, spicy mayo, wonton crisps and more! At my house, we opt for simpler poke bowls that are more similar to authentic Hawaiian poke bowls, complete with crunchy cucumber or seaweed salad, furikake (Japanese seaweed seasoning), and some avocado. Learn more! ⇢ Mom’s Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl Recipe.
A homemade ahi poke bowl is assembled inside of a large blue ceramic bowl. The bowl sits atop a creamy white textured surface and a pair of wooden chop sticks rests atop the bowl. A blue and white linen napkin is tucked underneath the bowl.
Pile on with toppings to make a poke bowl for even more beautiful flavors and textures.
An overhead and close up macro shot of ahi poke inside of a small ceramic bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. It is garnished with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion.
Eat on its own or atop a bed of sticky rice for a simple yet satisfying lunch or dinner.

I can’t wait for you to try this Shoyu Ahi Poke recipe! Poke is truly my favorite food on the face of the planet and it means a lot to share it with you. While this homemade version is amazing, we hope you get to try Hawaiian poke at least once in your life – there’s nothing more special! 🌺

If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo and tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

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Shoyu poke fills a small ceramic bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. The ahi poke has been garnished with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion. A small blue and white bowl filled with white rice rests alongside the bowl of tuna poke at center.

Homemade Shoyu Ahi Poke (Hawaiian Tuna Poke)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Marinating Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 2-4 1x
  • Category: Main Dish, Appetizer Recipe
  • Method: Raw, No-Cook
  • Cuisine: Hawaiian

Description

When poke cravings hit at home, my Mom’s Ahi Tuna Poke is the next best thing. Inspired by the shoyu ahi poke of her childhood in Honolulu, Mom and I have worked closely to honor the tradition of Hawaiian poke in this recipe while still making it easy and accessible for those of us on the mainland. You’ll want to take the time to source the right ingredients (we have lots of guidance included in the Recipe Notes, below!), but once you do, a bowl of ahi poke comes together really quickly. 

Enjoy this ahi poke on its own as a pupu, spoon it over warm rice, or build a poke bowl – these Ahi Tuna Poke Bowls are how we most often enjoy shoyu poke at home.

If homemade poke is new-to-you, you’re in for such a treat – be sure to read through the blog post, above, to learn all about poke and its delicious history in Hawaii. ♡ We hope you love this special family recipe as much as we do! 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound sashimi-grade ahi tuna, diced into ¾-inch cubes (see Recipe Notes)
  • ¼ large sweet onion, thinly sliced (approx. ¼ cup)
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced (approx. ⅓ cup)
  • optional: 2 tablespoons dried ogo or limu (or ¼ cup rehydrated ogo or limu made from 2 tablespoons dried placed in 2.5 cups of lukewarm water). (Hawaiian seaweed, see Recipe Notes)
  • 23 tablespoons shoyu or soy sauce (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped Inamona or macadamia nuts (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix the ahi poke: In a medium bowl, combine the cubed tuna, sliced sweet onion and green onion, ogo or limu (if using), shoyu, toasted sesame oil, Hawaiian sea salt, inamona or macadamia nuts, toasted sesame seeds, and crushed red pepper. Gently stir, combining the ingredients well. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Serve: In Hawaii, poke is commonly enjoyed on its own as a pupu (appetizer). If you prefer to make a meal out of it, try spooning it over warm white rice or build a poke bowl (for more info, check out Mom’s Ahi Tuna Poke Bowls recipe – the best!) Enjoy! Shoyu poke fills a small ceramic bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. The ahi poke has been garnished with toasted sesame seeds and thinly sliced green onion. A small blue and white bowl filled with white rice rests alongside the bowl of tuna poke at center.

Notes

  • Ingredient Notes (+ a quick note from Mom! 🌺): Poke is traditionally made using some really interesting and special Hawaiian ingredients. If you’re a mainlander, many of these ingredients may be new-to-you, so we’ve provided detailed descriptions and some sourcing guidance below. Mom wanted to be sure to let you know that there’s no need to feel intimidated by the specialty nature of a few of these ingredients – you can still make a delicious poke at home using just fresh fish, onions, and the sauce!
    • Ahi tuna: As the star of this poke recipe, it’s important to use the best quality ahi tuna you can find. Since poke is a raw preparation, it’s also important to source your fish from somewhere you trust. While some swear by using only “sushi-grade” or “sashimi-grade” fish, these designations aren’t regulated – this is an interesting read on the matter. Rather than focusing on specific labels, I suggest heading to your local fishmonger and letting them guide you in the right direction. If you’re local to the Twin Cities Metro, I am a big fan of Coastal Seafoods – they have storefronts in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. If you cannot find ahi tuna, this is also a great base recipe – feel free to swap tuna for salmon 
    • Ogo/Limu: Ogo and limu are varieties of Hawaiian seafood commonly used in poke to add crunchy texture and briney, oceanic flavor. While it can be a difficult and expensive ingredient to source here on the mainland, dehydrated seaweed is something you can easily order online and rehydrate according to package directions. 
    • Shoyu: Shoyu is the Japanese-style soy sauce that’s most commonly used in Hawaii. Its flavor is a little more mellow and round than soy sauces readily available in conventional grocery stores here on the mainland. Aloha Shoyu, which is brewed in Hawaii, is my favorite and a staple in my kitchen. If you cannot find shoyu, feel free to use whatever soy sauce you have on hand (or your favorite soy sauce alternative, like tamari, for a gluten-free dish). 
    • Hawaiian sea salt: Hawaiian sea salt is a crucial element of traditional Hawaiian poke. It’s less salty and richer in minerals than conventional salt – plus, it’s as authentic as it gets! I use ‘Alaea salt (red clay salt with naturally occurring minerals and iron, pictured) or this Hawaiian sea salt – either work wonderfully in this recipe. If you don’t wish to use Hawaiian sea salt, substitute with coarse rock-style salt.
    • Inamona: Inamona is finely grated roasted kukui nut (candlenut), the nut from Hawaii’s official state tree, the kukui tree (candlenut tree). (If you’ve ever traveled to Hawaii, you may have seen or worn a kukui nut lei, a traditional Hawaiian lei that symbolizes protection and peace.) Inamona is made by cracking open the dark, smooth shell of a kukui nut and roasting, seasoning, and finely chopping the softer white nut inside. Inamona is traditionally used to season fish and it’s a crucial ingredient to real Hawaiian poke. While it can be a difficult and expensive ingredient to source here on the mainland, it is something you can order online. If you cannot find inamona, the mild flavor and meaty texture of toasted macadamia nuts make for a great substitute.
  • Storage: While this ahi poke is best enjoyed fresh, the day it’s prepared, you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days. Enjoy leftovers straight out of the refrigerator. 

Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

An overhead shot of an ahi tuna poke bowl assembled inside of a large blue ceramic bowl. The bowl sits atop a creamy white textured surface and a pair of wooden chop sticks resting atop the bowl. A blue and white linen napkin is tucked underneath the bowl and a small blue and white plate filled with sliced green onions rests alonside the bowl at center.
A side angle shot of a tuna poke bowl assembled inside of a large blue ceramic bowl. The bowl sits atop a creamy white textured surface with a blue and white linen napkin is tucked underneath. A pair of wooden chopsticks rests atop of the bowl and a small blue and white plate filled with sliced green onions rests alonside the poke bowl.

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Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 5.4.24
    Miyako said:

    Absolutely phenomenal poke recipe. I will never search for another recipe again. This is THE ONE. Mahalo!






    • 5.6.24
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      We’re so thrilled you love the poke as much as we do, Miyako!! 🙂

  2. 3.16.24
    Laurel said:

    Just made this for my husband and I, and it was definitely a hit. He grew up on the beach and loves good seafood bowls. I didn’t have some of the unique ingredients but made do with what I had. He said this must go into meal rotation. Thank you!






    • 3.19.24
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Laurel, we’re so glad this Poke was a hit, and that it was nostalgic for your husband, too! Thanks for the kind review!

  3. 8.13.23
    Jill S said:

    I have tried many poke recipes and this is my favorite. I have used regular (low sodium) soy sauce as well as the shoyu. Both are good . I haven’t added the nuts nor the ogo/limu and it was still phenomenal. I have had many request the recipe.






    • 8.14.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Jill, we’re so glad to hear you love this poke!! Thank you so much for your review 🙂