Poke Nachos are out of this world! Inspired from a dish at Kawaihae Kandyz in Hawaii, they're super fresh and delicious. A little spicy, they're served with the perfect gluten-free chips.The last time I was on the Big Island of Hawaii, I asked every local I met what their favorite place to eat was.
I promise you, this is how to find the best, most authentic food. It's almost always where the locals eat!
It's also how I found the Hale I’A Da Fish House that I love so much.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other restaurants with fabulous menus and gorgeous, tasty food -- I love those too.
For me though, part of traveling to other places is learning about their culture through their food, and the best way to do that is to go to the off-the-beaten-path places.
At least three locals told me about Kawaihae Kandyz, so I had to try it. I was told they had the best Poke Nachos around.
I was so excited to pull up to this colorful building where the restaurant was located.
The colors were so fun — just like the food!
What is Poke?
- In Hawaiian, the word poke simply means “chunk.”
- Throughout history, poke could refer to any meat or seafood that was cut into small pieces and marinated.
- Today though, it will usually refer to seafood, and most often ahi tuna.
At Kawaihae Kandyz you order at a window, and there's only outdoor seating — a handful of small tables and a long counter with chairs. It's perfect.
Though they have fish tacos and several sides, like kimchi, pickled cucumber and mac salad, the menu is all about poke.
So of course I ordered the Poke Sampler and the Kandyz Sampler — this way I was able to try almost everything.
Each and every bite was absolutely delicious.
I’m sharing a recipe I created for Poke Nachos, inspired by those included in the Kandyz Sampler.
How to make Poke Nachos
- Mix sesame oil, tamari, sriracha and finely chopped scallions to make the marinade.
- Cut Ahi tuna into a small dice and add it to the marinade.
- Heat a few inches of grapeseed oil to 340°F.
- Cut the rice papers into six triangles each with scissors.
- Once the oil is hot, drop the rice paper triangles into it, being sure there is space between them. They will turn bright white and puff up in literally 1 or 2 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove them and place them on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
- Once the chips have cooled, arrange them on a serving platter and top them with the poke.
- Drizzle with a bit of the Sriracha and mayonnaise.
(More detailed instructions are below.)
Tips for Making Poke Nachos
- If you're working with frozen ahi tuna, let it thaw halfway and then cut it. It'll be easy to cut into a small dice this way.
- I love making “chips” out of rice paper to keep this dish gluten-free. They're also deliciously light and crispy and hold the fish perfectly. You can however, use wonton chips or even try it with a light tortilla chips.
- If you prefer less heat, skip or use less of the Sriracha.
- The mayonnaise is surprisingly fantastic with this, but if it doesn't suit you, skip it.
These Poke Nachos are full of exquisite flavors and textures. I really hope you try it!
And should you find yourself on the Big Island in Hawaii, you should definitely try Kawaihae Kandyz.
54-3886 Akoni Pule Hwy, Kapaau, HI 96755 | (808) 896-2767 | Hours: Wed - Sat, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Poke Nachos Recipe
- 1 teaspoon light sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Tamari
- ½ teaspoon plus a bit more for drizzling Sriracha sauce
- 1 scallion (white and green portion), finely chopped
- ¼ pound sushi grade Ahi Tuna
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil for frying (amounts will vary -- see instruction no. 2)
- 2 (approximately 6-inch diameter) rice papers
- mayonnaise for drizzling
- Make the marinade and prepare the fish. In a small mixing bowl, combine the sesame oil, Tamari, Sriracha sauce and scallion. Stir to blend. Cut the tuna into a small dice and add it to the bowl. Mix to be sure it’s well coated with all of the ingredients and set aside.
- Make the rice chips. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium-high heat, heat about 3-inches of the grapeseed oil to 340°F. (Amounts will depend on the size of the pan you choose.) Cut the rice papers into six triangles each with scissors, and line a baking sheet with a layer of paper towels. Once the oil is hot, drop the rice paper triangles into it, being sure there is space between them. They will turn bright white and puff up in literally 1 or 2 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove them and place them on the towel-lined baking sheet.
- Assemble and serve. Once the chips have cooled, arrange them on a serving platter and then evenly distribute the poke on top. Drizzle gingerly with a bit of the Sriracha and mayonnaise. Serve immediately.
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