If I didn’t love searing sunshine, I’d tell you that the last few weeks in NYC have been unbearably hot. But, in all honesty, I adore the heat. Okay, I do need regular breaks in an air conditioned bedroom or coffee shop, and I could do with having a pool in our teeny backyard, but, as a girl who’s been bought up in a country where it is grey, drizzling, and under 20 celsius/68 fahrenheit for 80% of the year, these endless clear blue skies, and the never ending blazing heat make me so happy.
However, I have had to learn how to deal with this ongoing heat bubble. Sadly I'm not on a permanent summer vacation from June to September – normal behavior has to continue, even when it’s 36 celsius/97 fahrenheit outside. I tried eating nothing but iced coffee and ice cream for a few days but it wasn't really a sustainable solution. So, in an attempt to find some other hot weather suitable food, I decided to go in search of New York's 2016 obsession, and one of Hawaii's most famous and popular dishes, poké.
It turns out that there’s a lot of logic lying behind why this is dish originates in always sunny, ever humid Hawaii: it is totally, utterly ideal to eat, even on the hottest of days. And that's true when I'm at a packed out Smorgasburg market in Williamsburg rather than surfing on a tropical, palm-tree lined beach.
The East Coast Poké stand sticks amongst the doughnuts, fried chicken, ramen burgers, and shaved ice which populate Smorgasburg. The simplicity of the stand is enough to draw your attention, before you've even realized the only three things on show are raw, lighty marinated fish. There's little time between that realization and joining the back of the line to order your bowl.
Poké is simply sliced, raw fish, tossed in an Asian-inspired dressing. It is said to have been invented by Hawaiian fisherman who would chop off bits of the fish as a snack while they were out working. Poké bowls – the latest New York food trend, and what East Coast Poké served me that hot Saturday – are raw tuna or salmon, lightly marinated in soy and sesame, and served atop sticky rice and a crunchy seaweed salad. This dish is light, but filling, subtly flavored, but with just enough saltiness and umami to keep it interesting, and the seaweed provides the perfect crunch to balance the softness of the rice and cubes of fish.
In short, if I could eat one thing for lunch every day in this sticky summer, it would be a traditional tuna poké bowl. Sadly, Smorgasburg, and my lunchbreaks in Williamsburg don’t happen daily. But most weekends, you’ll find me there, gazing out over the East River as I eat my way through all the poké I can afford.