Sushi and I have been good friends for quite a long time. My first experience consuming raw fish occurred when I was a sophomore in high school. I was spending the afternoon in New York with some pals and we ended up at a food quart with lots of options. I probably got a sandwich or a burger (this was before I became pescatarian), but someone brought a small platter of sushi to the table. We all looked curiously. What's that? Even as a kid, I was an adventurous eater, so when she asked me if I wanted a piece, I said, "Sure!" Without thinking too much about it, I loaded it with wasabi and soy sauce (too much of both) and stuffed the whole thing in my mouth. After my sinuses stopped burning, I was able to enjoy the subtle flavors and variety of textures in that single bite. From that moment on, I was hooked.
There are other moments in my life where sushi has played an essential role. Like my relationship with Eric. When we had our initial phone conversations about where we should go for our first date, I suggested coffee or cocktails... you know, in case we didn't hit it off. We agreed on a place and time and that was that. But a few days later, I got a call from him asking if I ate sushi. Yes... yes I do. Good, he said. Let's get sushi. As we sat at the table, a boat of sashimi and nigiri before us, he said, "Just so you know, if you didn't like sushi, I was going to break things off." And while some people might see that as being a bit dismissive, I was right there with him. I find that people who eat sushi tend to be more open-minded, especially when it comes to food. At the time, I knew I wanted a partner who was just as passionate about food as I was. I wanted to be with someone who was willing to take risks in life. When he told me that, I knew it was meant to be. (I should also add that we named our dog, who we got just before we were married, Maki. Yup... obsessed)
Needless to say, when I came across a recipe for Ahi Tuna Poke, in Sara Forte's striking new book, The Sprouted Kitchen: Bowl and Spoon, I was sold on making it. The whole thing came together so easily, I had to wonder why I'd never tried it before. It's basically a giant sushi roll bowl! Say THAT a few times. Sushi roll bowl. Sushi roll bowl. You can top it with all different kinds of veggies and make it as spicy as you'd like. Sara recommends wasabi or chili flakes, but I love the chili paste we keep stocked, so I went with that. Add to that a bit of grated ginger and garlic and a drizzle of soy and sesame oil and you have a kickin' marinade.
If I haven't expressed how much I adore Sara's book (and Hugh's pictures), let me take a moment to just say this. Buy the book. Now. The photos jump off the page, the writing tells a beautiful story, and the recipes... well, I guess that's the most important part. These are recipes that will stand the test of time. They can be made for a big dinner party or a quick weeknight meal (I'd say this poke falls under the latter). It's a book you keep in your kitchen... there's endless amounts of inspiration. Again... go get the book.
Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl
Source Adapted very slightly from the recipe in Sprouted Kitchen: Bowl + Spoon by Sara Forte
Yield 4 servings
1 1/2 cups short-grain brown rice or white rice
1 1/2 pounds sushi-grade ahi tuna
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
3 carrots, grated
1 bunch (about 8) medium radish, thinly sliced
2 large, ripe avocados
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1. Rinse the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Cook the rice according to instructions or in a rice cooker.
2. With a sharp knife, cut the ahi into 1-inch cubes. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger, grated garlic, vinegar, and chili paste, to taste. Add the ahi and green onions and stir gently to combine. This much can be done up to 1 hour in advance. Keep chilled.
3. Just before serving, pit and dice the avocado into small cubes.
4. Arrange your poke bowl with a generous scoop of rice, ahi tuna, avocado, grated carrot and sliced radish. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Serve with cilantro and more soy sauce on the side.