To mark the DVD release of Disney’s Moana, I was recently invited to a special on-off masterclass held at the newly opened Island Poké restaurant in Carnaby Street.
Poké is a popular Hawaiian dish which directly relates to Moana’s Polynesian roots and the location of the film’s story. Island Poké prides itself in specialising in fresh, authentic Hawaiian Poké so it was the perfect location for the event.
The first thing that catches your eye is the refreshing blue facade, reminding one of the endless oceans and tropical theme of the film’s story. The interiors were very organic – bare bricks, warm woods and earthy tones – with lots of quirky details like swing seating and blue-fin wall tiles.
We were welcomed by the team with Hawaiian flower necklaces (called lei) and headbands, which immediately got us into the spirit of the movie.
Before kicking off the masterclass, we were given a short introduction to the dish by the founder of Island Poké, James Porter.
He passionately spoke about the concept and creation of his restaurant, which was inspired by his family roots in Southern California. They have tried to stay true to the concept of Poké by using only the most authentic, freshest and lovingly sourced ingredients.
We were then split into teams of two and were assigned a table each, which was already laid out with an impressive array of exotic tropical fruits and ingredients; we were going to create the classic Ahi Poké Bowl. We also had a pair of knives and a chopping board per table. It was all very well organised and every detail had been taken care of.
We kicked off by making the Shoyu sauce – mixing 25ml of light soy sauce, 25 ml of pure sesame oil and a dash of Mirin.
The mixture was then added to 90g of of sashimi-grade ahi (yellowfin) tuna. We gave it a good but gentle stir so all the liquids were soaked up by the flesh.
To this, we added a half a teaspoon of Tograshi – a pepper blend.
Finally, some finely chopped spring onions (only add the green bits if you don’t want it to taste too ‘oniony’) and 3g of fresh root ginger were tossed into the marinated fish.
That was all the prep that the tuna needed and it was then left to soak up all the juices and flavours for a couple of minutes. If you are a vegetarian or don’t eat fish, you can easily replace the tuna with beetroot.
Next, we prepared the pineapple salsa – adding 50g of finely chopped pineapple, 20g of fresh pineapple juice, 5g of grated ginger, some finely chopped red chillies (you can de-seed them if you prefer it mild) and a half-a-lime’s worth of juice and finally giving it a thorough mix.
Finally, it was time to assemble the poké bowl. Our base was some warm, cooked and seasoned sushi rice (you can use any short grain rice or use leafy greens to go carb-free). In went the tuna first with all its lovely marinade.
We then added the pineapple salsa.
Finally we sprinkled some crispy onions and sesame seeds to add texture.
At this point you can get really creative with ingredients and add your own special toppings. I added some fresh guacamole and some beautiful Wakame seaweed to add texture.
Finally, it was time for a taste test. I was absolutely convinced that I had created a disaster with my inept chopping and measuring skills. Surprisingly, it tasted very good and I could not believe it myself. The poké bowl was delicious and filling, yet wholesome and healthy. I can’t believe how easy it was to make and is such a healthy way for those who don’t like to cook. It was colourful and bursting with flavours.
The whole masterclass transported me to Moana’s world for a few hours. A huge aspect of Moana is about voyaging and exploring the unknown. Spending an afternoon creating a dish that I have never had before from a region that I know so little about has definitely ignited a desire in me to discover more of the Polynesian wonderland.
N.B. I was a guest of Disney UK, Organic Publicity and Island Poké, but all views expressed in this blogpost and the photos belong to me. Moana was released on Blu-ray and DVD on 3rd April 2017.