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The classic Hawaiian ahi poke features raw tuna with soy sauce (shoyu), garlic, and onion. It’s rich and buttery, perfect with rice or as an appetizer!

Ahi poke
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Poke is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Taking one bite is an explosion in your mouth. You get the silky, buttery texture of the ahi tuna (and wonder if you actually did bite into butter). There’s the sharp umami of the soy sauce, the crunch of the onion, the pungent ginger, and that garlicky essence: really, there’s nothing like it! Poke is a Hawaiian food that’s become increasingly popular here in the mainland US. Here’s what you need to know about how to make ahi poke at home!

Also try our Poke Bowl Recipe or Vegan Poke.

What’s poke? What’s shoyu ahi poke?

Poke means “to slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces” in the Hawaiian language. It refers to the raw fish that’s cut into cubes, and originated from Hawaiian fisherman who would season leftover parts of their catch for a snack. Poke is a Hawaiian-American food, and much of its flavor is influenced by Japanese cuisine: soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil.

You can make poke out of any raw fish, like raw salmon or octopus. But the most popular fish used for poke is yellowfin tuna or ahi tuna. You’ll see this called ahi poke or tuna poke. What is shoyu ahi poke? Shoyu is the word for soy sauce in Japanese, so shoyu ahi poke means poke made with ahi tuna and soy sauce. Basically, they’re all words for the same thing!

Poke bowl
Serve it as an appetizer or in a Poke Bowl

Use sushi or sashimi grade ahi tuna

The most important part of ahi poke is…you guessed it, the ahi tuna! You’ll want to find the very best ahi tuna you can find. If you’re making this recipe, we’ll assume you’re also a fan of sushi. You’ll be using the same quality of fish used at your favorite sushi joint, labeled for use for either sushi or sashimi (the raw fish served without rice). Here are a few things to keep in mind when you buy tuna for poke:

  • Buy ahi tuna that is marked sushi or sashimi grade.
  • Depending on your grocery store, this could be located in the frozen fish area or at the fresh fish counter.
  • If you aren’t sure, confirm with the store that this fish is safe to eat raw.

What’s in ahi poke?

So what’s in ahi poke? It’s very simple, and the flavor depends on the quality of your ahi tuna. Once you’ve got your fish, you’ll marinade it in a mixture that includes:

  • Sushi or sashimi grade ahi tuna (also called yellowfin), cubed
  • Sweet yellow onion (similar to the traditional Maui onion), sliced
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil (plain, not toasted)
  • Ginger, minced
  • Garlic, minced
  • Sriracha 
Ahi tuna

Marinading your tuna poke (and a shortcut!)

To get the flavor fully infused into the ahi poke, most recipes call for at least 1 hour of marinading time. But what if you want to eat it right away? Alex and I tasted our ahi poke right away, after 30 minutes, and after 1 hour to see how the flavor changed. Here’s the down-low on marinading:

  • Right away: The flavor actually tastes incredible right away! It’s very forward and beautifully strong. If you’re in a time crunch, dig right in.
  • 30 minutes: Marinading even 15 to 30 minutes rounds out the flavor.
  • 1 hour: If you have the time, marinade for 1 hour: the flavors really permeate the fish! After you marinade, you’ll need to taste and add a little salt to bring out the flavor since the soy will have faded a bit.

How to serve ahi poke

There are two main ways to serve ahi poke: as an appetizer, and as a poke bowl!

  • Appetizer: You can serve the fish straight up as an appetizer. Serve the bowl and everyone can dig in with chopsticks, or in small dishes. Or serve with plantain chips for dipping!
  • Poke Bowl: Try this Poke Bowl recipe. There are lots of ways to make a poke bowl, but it’s usually served with short grain white rice and lots of crunchy raw veggies.
Poke bowl

Other great poke recipes

Want more ideas? There are great resources from Hawaiian chefs:

This recipe is…

Pescatarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

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Ahi poke

Best Ahi Poke

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.3 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


The classic Hawaiian ahi poke features raw tuna with soy sauce (shoyu), garlic, and onion. It’s rich and buttery, perfect with rice or as an appetizer!


  • 1 1/2 pounds ahi tuna, sushi or sashimi grade (3 steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each)
  • ¼ cup minced sweet yellow onion
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (not toasted)
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • ½ teaspoon ginger, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Small squeeze sriracha


  1. Slice the tuna into 1-inch cubes. Mince the onion. Thinly slice the green onions. Mix them in a bowl with the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, kosher salt and Sriracha.
  2. Serve immediately, but for most authentic flavor marinate in refrigerator for 15 minutes to 1 hour. Taste and add a sprinkle of salt before serving.* (Get this in the fridge while the rice boils and you prep the veggies, and you can eat when it’s all done.)


*It tastes great either way. The traditional poke is marinaded at least 1 hour. If you’re looking for a quick meal, it’s very good right away too.

  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Hawaiian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Jon says:

    Raw vegetables?????? Where are you from?????

  2. Rick Julian says:

    Made this several times, always delicious. We add cubed avocado for even more flavor.

  3. Briar Rose says:

    Just a caution — I would add the soy sauce to your taste. Three tablespoons was way too much and I wish I would have done less.

  4. Chris says:

    I LOVE your blog!
    I do have a friendly suggestion:
    You say “Poke is a Hawaiian food that’s become increasingly popular here in the US”. Hawaii IS in the USA. You’d be better to say MAINLAND USA

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Thank yoU!

  5. Hana Sacek says:

    This recipe looks delicious but it is NOT gluten free so be cautious if you have a genuine sensitivity or have celiac!

  6. Patricia Vreeland says:

    Warning: it’s not gluten-free if you use regular soy sauce, which has wheat in it. Change this to tamari, which is gluten-free soy sauce.

  7. Martin Camarillo says:

    As close to the poke on Oahu that I remember tasting. Delicious!