|Grandson Nico with his poké bowl. (Photos by Daniel Searl)|
“Can you show me how to make poké bowl?” asked Nico, my 13-year-old grandson who had come to visit for a week. “What’s a poké bowl?” I asked. Nico showed me a photo of the bowl he had enjoyed in Segovia, the first stop on a trip around Spain with his parents.
Poké is a Japanesy-Hawaiian dish, a combo of seafood, chicken or tofu and salad vegetables on seasoned rice. But, what’s it doing in Spain? Apparently, poké bowls are popular. The restaurant in Segovia, Selfish Poke, bills itself as “Hawaii meets Segovia” and claims the food is so good “you won’t want to share.”
I’m guessing the “build your own bowl” style appealed to Nico, who is an eclectic but finicky eater. He’s crazy about cuttlefish but eschews (some words for you to look up, Nico) cooked green beans. At the restaurant he opted for raw tuna with algae salad, corn kernels and sliced avocado served over rice with a ponzu sauce.
|Searing fresh tuna.|
Nico and I shopped for fresh tuna at the local market. We came home with two thick tuna steaks. As we intended to eat the tuna raw or very rare, I popped it in the freezer for 24 hours which destroys any possible parasites. Before assembling the bowls, I seared the tuna on all sides, leaving it rare inside. We cut it into bite-size cubes.
I had several kinds of seaweed in the cupboard, so I made a seaweed salad. I made ponzu sauce using the recipe in Japanese Cooking, A Simple Art, by Shizuo Tsuji, but substituting PX Sherry for mirin, a sweet cooking wine, in the recipe.
While Nico was out playing basketball with his cousin, I made sushi rice, using Spanish Valencian short-grain rice. It’s washed and steamed, then seasoned with rice vinegar and salt.
|Cucumber curls to garnish.|
I cooked romano green beans cut into short lengths and asparagus tips for the rest of us who do like cooked vegetables. Nico grated carrots and curled cucumber ribbons. I put out an Asian-inflected cole slaw (rice vinegar and a little sesame oil). Even though raw, Nico was having none of it. Cherry tomatoes, yes.
Nico and I laid out a poké bowl assembly board. Here’s what we had.
|Build your own poké bowl.|
Seared tuna, cut in dice
Chopped red bell pepper
Strips of nori (seaweed)
Seaweed salad (recipe follows)
Ponzu sauce (recipe follows)
Nico went first, spreading rice in the bottom of the bowl, adding tuna, carrots, seaweed salad, peppers. Even a few cooked vegetables, just for the beauty shot. He ladled on some sauce. Except for missing corn kernels, he was very satisfied with our poké efforts. Once he gets back home where he can buy ponzu sauce in a bottle, he should easily be able to replicate the poké bowl.
|Nico builds his poké bowl--first, a scoop of sushi rice, then cubes of seared tuna and seaweed salad.|
|Nico chooses cubes of tuna, seaweed salad, cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, grated carrots and a few green beans, just for color (he didn't plan on eating the beans).|
Ensalada de Alga
You can buy jars of prepared seaweed salad or you can easily prepare it yourself with dried algae. Use a single seaweed, such as wakame, or a combination. I used wakame plus a little kombu and sea spaghetti.
The seaweed is edible after simply soaking in water to rehydrate it. But I prefer it cooked, as well. Soak the sea spaghetti and wakame separately for 10 minutes and cook each in simmering water 10 minutes more. Soak kombu 10 minutes and cook it for 35 minutes.
1 ½ cups rehydrated and cooked seaweed (about 1 ounce dry)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar
Salt, to taste
Toasted sesame seeds, to serve
Sliced cucumber, to serve
Drain the seaweed well. Place it in handfuls on a cutting board and chop or shred it. Put the seaweed in a bowl. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar. Mix with the seaweed. Taste for salt and add if needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered.
To serve, sprinkle the salad with toasted sesame seeds and garnish with sliced cucumber.
Ponzu Sauce, Spanish Variant
Instead of mirin, a sweet Japanese cooking wine, I used PX Sherry in this recipe. Put it in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil to cook off the alcohol. Cool before adding to the sauce. The authentic Japanese recipe for ponzu says to mature the sauce, refrigerated, for 3 months. I made it the day before we used it.
1 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 cup soy sauce
¼ cup PX Sherry, alcohol cooked off
Small handful of bonito flakes (optional)
2-inch square of kombu (kelp)
Mix all the ingredients and let stand 24 hours. Strain the sauce and discard the solids. Refrigerate.
More recipes with algae (seaweed), a product gathered and processed in Spain here.
Another Japanesy recipe: Spanish-Style Sushi.