I am back at it again with another unusual birthday cake recipe! Last year, I sort of blew Roy’s mind with this Korean Fried Chicken Cake and had to do something just as fun this go around. Poke is without a doubt Roy’s favorite thing to eat. While we were back in Hawaii last month, I’m quite positive he had it every single day over the course of a week. FYI, I have never swayed his mind on the dangers of mercury poisoning.
Yama’s Fish Market is still his favorite place to grab a 1/2 lb of wasabi masago or limu poke, but I also really enjoyed Ono Seafood and Steph introduced me to (though not exactly a poke bowl) this awesome Spicy Ahi Avocado bowl from Hawaii Sushi in Diamond Head.
This cake took me a few tries to get right. Unfortunately for my wallet. For my first attempt at this cake while we were home, I used the Shoyu and Hawaiian style poke from Ono Seafood. I was shooting for a 6-inch cake but found it required too much poke and the layers of rice became too heavy for the layer of poke between them. My second go was much more successful, and I made my own poke this time so you all can make this cake at home too!
Instead of a Birth-day this year, Roy got a Birth-month. We went to Disneyland with his family, had a nice steak dinner in Beverly Hills, and drove up north near Magic Mountain to play paintball which I was very nervous about because I’m a big wimp and I’ve seen paintball bruises before… On our last round, I was the last person left on our team – mostly because I was hiding behind hay barrels the entire time – with three people closing in on me. I fell to the ground and barely made it out after taking a paintball to the head which felt like someone had thrown a small stone. During another round, Roy was somehow shot by some of our team mates while trying to get out of the game and now has some sizable bruises. Also no one mentions how physically exhausting it can be to carry a gun, extra ammo, and armor around with you as you dodge hits and hide behind objects. I had sore muscles in the strangest of places the next day. But I have to admit it was pretty fun and I kind of get why people enjoy it so much now.
Here are some key tips I recommend you stick by when making this cake:
a) Sashimi grade tuna is a mustmustmustmustmust. I’ve mentioned this in previous recipes on here but you want the highest quality fish you can get your hands on. Preferably fresh, not frozen (flash frozen though is ok). Look for ahi with a deep and rather vibrant red color. Avoid any fish that looks tinged with brown or gray. Also be aware of fish dyed to appear red. The fresher the fish, the better the taste and texture of your poke.
b) Use that acetate! I know it’s kind of a pain to buy online and most people aren’t making Milkbar style cakes every week – I bought a wrapping paper sized roll 3 years ago and still haven’t used half of it – but this will make your life so much easier.
c) Be careful with the poke layer. It does not hold its shape as well as the rice layers and if not left to set in the freezer before serving or if the acetate is removed too long before serving, the poke will begin to push out and under the weight of the rice. The cake won’t look nearly as pretty as it does with straight edges.
Ahi Poke Cake
Recipes makes one 5 in. 3 layered cake.
2 cups (dry) rice
1 – 1 1/2 lbs sashimi grade tuna
1 tbsp shoyu
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 stalks green onion, chopped
1/4 cup kewpie mayo
2 tbsp sriracha
1 tsp chili oil
2 tbsp masago
pinch of Hawaiian salt
5 in. cake pan
1. In a rice cooker or over the stove, cook your rice according to the package instructions. After the rice is ready, let it cool sightly before handling. Line the bottom of a 5 in. cake pan with plastic wrap. Press about half of the rice into the pan. Press hard! You want the rice as compact as possible so it will stay together. Use the edges of the plastic wrap to pull out the layer of rice. Wrap and repeat to make the second layer of rice.
2. Cube the fish into about 1/2 or 1 inch chunks. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with shoyu, sesame oil, and half of the green onions. Cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. In the mean time, mix the spicy sauce by combining the mayo, sriracha, and chili oil.
3. Once the fish has finished marinating, add in 2-3 tablespoons of the spicy sauce and toss to coat. Mix in the masago, Hawaiian salt, and the rest of the green onion. Refrigerate poke until ready to assemble the cake.
4. For assembly, with a 5 in. cake pan turned so the bottom is facing up, place the first layer of rice on top of the cake pan. Wrap a sheet of acetate around the pan and tape closed securely. For the second cake layer, place about 3/4 of the poke on top of the rice layer. Try to pack this down fairly well against the sides of the acetate ring but you don’t want to smash the fish. Slide the second layer of rice over the poke layer. Transfer the cake to the freezer for 15-20 minutes so the poke layer can firm up (you may also have to do this again just before serving if not doing so immediately). You don’t want to freeze the fish but you’ll need to do this so the poke layer will hold under the weight of the top rice layer.
5. Remove the acetate just before serving. Ideally you want to make and consume this on the same day. Keep the cake refrigerated but please eat this cake on the very day you buy the fish for maximum freshness and deliciousness!