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Poke! No, not the thing you do to your little brother or your best friend just to get a rise out of them...I'm talking about that classic Hawaiian raw seafood dish that so many fish lovers go gah-gah over. Poke can be centered around pretty much any seafood that is safe to eat raw, but we most commonly see this dish made from ahi tuna, which is an awesome way to go! This time, however, I decided to go with a different approach. Salmon! 

About a week ago, I hopped on the phone with John Battendieri to seal the deal on a collaboration that my awesome photographer, Jake Thomas, had set in motion. Battendieri is the owner/founder of Santa Cruz Fish Co., a local company that sells our community (and surrounding counties and states) sustainably sourced salmon from New Zealand. Jake had been in contact with him over the preceding weeks, relaying our story and telling him a little bit about what we are doing in the Taking Pure Joy kitchen. John’s curiosity was sparked and he decided to give us some fish to play with...and man did we play! 

Before I dive into details on the delicious Poke we made from John’s salmon, let me tell you a little bit about the product. Santa Cruz Fish Co.’s Mount Cook Alpine Salmon is something special. Sashimi grade (which means it’s ok to eat raw when handled correctly!) and raised in the freshest glacial water, these fillets are as close to perfection as I have encountered. Their clean, subtle taste and delicate flavor lend them to Poke, carpaccio, and sushi beautifully. Worried about sustainability? So are we. Santa Cruz Fish Co.’s salmon is recognized by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch as the “Best Choice” in sustainability. So enjoy responsibly! If you are interested in trying out Santa Cruz Fish Co.’s salmon, feel free to check them out here. They offer delivery and local pickup from our very own Venus Spirits Tasting Room in West Side Santa Cruz. Have a cocktail while you’re at it! Looking for more info on how to get your fish? Check out their Shipping + Pickup page here


Ok...onto the cooking. As soon as I heard that Jake was in cahoots with this awesome fish co., my wheels started turning. I wanted to highlight the purity of the ingredient, but also to put out a recipe that was exciting to make! I landed on a Salmon + Avocado Poke featuring macadamia nuts from Royal Hawaiian Orchards, sushi nori (seaweed) from gimMe Organics, avocado, sesame seeds, and scallions from our local market, The Food Bin...all tossed in a homemade sesame + ginger sauce and plopped on top of a bed of Lundberg Sushi Rice. Quick note on the sauce. I can’t do soy :( so I opt to make my own starring Bragg’s liquid aminos. You can also 100% buy a premade sauce if you are tight on time. I’m a big fan of Primal Kitchen’s Sesame + Ginger Marinade...find it here or on Thrive Market


For the Poke - This is a flexible recipe. If you want more nuts, add them! More sashimi? Go ahead! The world is your oyster

  • ~12oz Sashimi grade salmon, diced (I buy from Santa Cruz Fish Co.
  • ⅔ Cup Macadamia nuts, chopped (I use Royal Hawaiian Orchards)
  • 3-4 sheets Sushi Nori, crumbled or chopped (I like gimMe Organics)
  • 1 large Hass Avocado, cubed (not too ripe)
  • 2 tbsp. Toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 Scallions, sliced 
  • 2 Cups Sushi Rice, cooked (Lundberg Sushi Rice is a great choice)
  • Rice wine vinegar (add to the sushi rice while cooking to help it stick together)

Sesame-Ginger Sauce: 

  • ½ Cup Liquid aminos (I use Bragg’s) OR soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ Cup Brown Sugar OR Honey 
  • 1 tbsp. Minced ginger 
  • 1tbsp. Minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 tsp. Cornstarch mixed with ¼ cup water

Sriracha Aioli: 

  • ½ Cup Mayonnaise (I like Primal Kitchen) 
  • 1 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil 
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce OR Liquid Aminos (I like Bragg’s liquid aminos) 
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha, feel free to add more if you like spicy! 


For the Poke: 

  1. Pull out a large mixing bowl
  2. Cube the salmon and the avocado...toss them in the bowl 
  3. Finely chop the macadamia nuts...toss them in the bowl 
  4. Finely slice the scallions...toss them in the bowl 
  5. Crumble or slice the nori into small squares...toss them in the bowl 
  6. Add the toasted sesame seeds 
  7. Add the sauce (see instructions below) and toss until there is an even distribution of all of the ingredients

Sesame-Ginger Sauce: 

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan EXCEPT the corn starch + water 
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Reduce to a simmer 
  4. Combine the 3 tsp. cornstarch + ¼ cup water - this should form a paste 
  5. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and whisk until comnbined 
  6. Simmer until thickened - choose your own adventure...some people like it thick like honey, some prefer a more fluid composition

Sriracha Aioli: 

  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients until uniform :) 

For the Sushi Rice: 

  1. Follow the instructions on the package ;) Add a few splashes of rice wine vinegar

To Assemble: 

  1. Oil a drinking glass WELL with toasted sesame oil 
  2. Pack the Poke mixture into the glass well...the glass should be about ¾ full of poke 
  3. Fill the remained of the glass with the cooked sushi rice
  4. Turn out on a plate 
  5. Drizzle with Sriracha Aioli 
  6. Drizzle with Sriracha Aioli 

Annnnnnd that’s all folks!! Enjoy with the people you love. I was lucky enough to share this meal with my folks, my partner, my sweet pup annnnnd a glass of Storrs Chardonnay...yumm! 


Side note, thanks to John, I had some extra fish. The following evening, my sushi enthusiast of a boyfriend and a few of our friends chowed down on some awesome sushi rolls. More on that in our next blog ;) 

1 comment

Jan 07, 2022 • Posted by Jake J. Thomas

What an awesome blog, Teddy! You made the most amazing looking and delicious tasting Poke ever.

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