Flavorful, fancy, fresh, and easy to make, Hawaiian-inspired salmon poke will satisfy your sushi craving with no fancy knife skills needed.

Salmon Poke - Sweet Tea & ThymeWhen Brian and I were dating, he did not like sushi. Like at all. Whenever we’d go on a date (I’d usually want to drive alllll the way to Plantation when we lived in South Florida to go to my then favorite sushi restaurant, Empire) he’d get the avocado rolls.

I’d get so mad! He was just so against trying raw fish! In fact, he was against most Asian food except Chinese take out. And as a foodie girlfriend, this was unacceptable! As habitual as I am, especially with food, trying new things at least once is my only rule!

Salmon Poke - Sweet Tea & Thyme

Eventually he started picking off my plates and his palette expanded since we’ve gotten married and I refused to buy boxed meals. Fast forward about seven years and now Brian has a strong love of sushi; we always order poke for an appetizer, along with their crispy gyoza every time we take a drive to Buckhead for sushi. Straight poke; the raw, raw fish on the plate, hon.

We fell in love at first plate, and never looked at an avocado roll again. Until we had a toddler who wanted to eat sushi, too.

Salmon Poke - Sweet Tea & Thyme

So what is poke?

Poke is a Hawaiian treat that has made its way to sushi restaurants and food blogs across the globe: ahi tuna chopped up with ingredients you can only find on the Islands along with Asian flavors like soy sauce. While I’d love to eat true Hawaiian poke one day, learning to make it myself will have to do, even if it’s not completely authentic.

Our favorite restaurant’s appetizer is what this recipe is based off of: just the salmon, marinated, with a little tobiko (flying fish roe) and some green onions. It’s simple, it’s completely focused on the fish, and it’s darn good.

Salmon Poke - Sweet Tea & Thyme

In order to make this you need (cannot compromise on this!) sashimi- or sushi-grade fish. Most supermarkets do not sell sushi-grade fish, you will have to go to a specialty market, like an Asian supermarket or fish market. Make sure to call before going, a lot of these markets have limited quantities from their shipments.

Salmon Poke - Sweet Tea & Thyme

What I love about poke is the fact that you don’t need to worry about knife skills or anything that you need to follow while making sushi rolls or nigiri. Brian worked at a sushi restaurant for a while and is all about his knife skills with sashimi, but I don’t have the patience, haha. All you need is a sharp knife to cube the salmon up and throw it in the marinade for two hours for awesome poke easily.

This is great for an appetizer for a small group of people, but since it was just Brian and I eating, I chopped up some avocado, added rice, and made a little poke bowl out of it as a meal. Delicious!

Salmon Poke - Sweet Tea & Thyme

Salmon Poke
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Appetizer; Main Dish; Seafood
Cuisine: Hawaiian
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 lb sushi-grade salmon filet, chopped into bite-sized cubes
  • 3 tbsp light-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Juice of half a lime
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 shallot, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp rice-wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp raw sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 green onion, green part only, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp red tobiko, garnish
  • ½ tbsp sesame seeds, garnish
  1. In a medium bowl, mix everything except the garnish ingredients together well with a spoon.
  2. Cover bowl tightly with lid or plastic wrap, then marinate for 2 hours.
  3. To serve, use a slotted spoon to scoop out the salmon cubes and top with sesame seeds and tobiko.
  4. This can be eaten by itself as an appetizer or with vegetables and rice in a bowl as a meal.