It’s August, and that means it’s the dead middle of the dog days of summer. So what do you do with these dog days? You eat cold fish, that’s what. And not just cold fish but raw fish.

In a recent “MasterChef” episode, Felix lovingly assigned me a beautiful whole salmon. Salmon is one of those fish that I love to eat raw but can’t stand cooked. In the form of sushi or sashimi, I gobble it up. Even smoked, I’ll throw it on some bread with cheese and herbs. But cooked? I can’t stand the stuff. I think it’s dry and foul-tasting. I have yet to taste a cooked salmon that I could call delicious. (This is a challenge for you folks now; give me a cooked salmon that can stand on its own next to some beautiful sashimi.) I groaned when I realized which fish Felix had given me because my mind was immediately sent reeling into oblivion: while I would love to serve the salmon raw, Kaimana from the top 100 had not been given an apron for his out-of-this-world tuna tartare because the judges said serving it raw showed no cooking technique. And so I was torn. I decided to bake a salmon filet but not before slicing off the fatty belly to set aside in case I got the guts to follow my instincts and make a tartare or a roll.

Alas, a big FISH FAIL for me in that challenge. I went against my intuition and served the judges something I myself would hate to eat—breaded baked salmon and rice—while leaving the beautiful salmon belly to rot on the side of the Boos block.

After that day, I learned to never again doubt my instincts, always cook what I love, and not worry so much about what the judges wanted. I figured that if I followed my palate, I would fare better because I’d actually believe in my dishes and have pride in what I put on the plate.

As an “in your face” to salmon, I recently made salmon poke to not only redeem my crappy salmon dish but also to avenge for Kaimana’s raw audition dish. My poke was only a fraction of his tuna’s goodness, but I enjoyed eating it all the same. Obviously you can use ahi tuna in lieu of the sashimi grade salmon—ahi tuna is more common to this dish anyway—but I wanted to put a twist on the tradition.

Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is a common raw fish salad eaten in Hawaii where the fish are super fresh and therefore celebrated. I like to eat my poke on sheets of nori (seaweed), won ton crisps, or sesame crackers. It’s super easy to make and delicious and healthy. The only downside is you’ll have to splurge a little bit to buy the fish but you’ll still be saving lots of dollars making it at home rather than ordering it in a restaurant. Just remember to use a very sharp knife to cut the fish, and employ a clean single slice as to not butcher the beautiful piece of fish you’d just spent $$ on. And remember if the Blind can [not] Cook it, so can you.

Recipe: Salmon Poke


  1. 1 lb. sashimi grade salmon, cubed
  2. 1/2 c. Soy sauce
  3. 3/8 c. Chopped scallion
  4. 1 tbsp. Sesame oil
  5. 1/2 tbsp. Toasted sesame seeds
  6. 1/2 tbsp. Crushed red pepper
  7. 1/2 tbsp. seaweed seasoning


  1. In a med. Bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs. Before serving.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

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25 Discussion to this post

  1. Terri says:

    This is just wonderful! I completely agree with you that raw salmon is far better tasting than cooked salmon. I've made this several times and I also prepare it with sashimi grade tuna.

  2. Kelley Doern says:

    My first experience with raw fish was with a pickled salmon. I didn’t know

    what it was but thought it was DE-LICIOUS….ever since that day I have been

    hooked (line and sinker) Sushi, Sashimi, Poke, Love it! My family

    immigrated through Hawaii from Okinawa so on its way to the mainland it’s

    picked up a ton of culture 🙂 Hawaiian food has become one of my all time

    favorites. especially Saimin.

  3. Ren-Yi says:

    Looks delicious & i can already taste the amazing flavours in my mouth.
    for a good cooked salmon – i have done miso glazed salmon on a cedar plank on the grill, or baked it in the oven with a nice brown sugar / pepper crust. Both came out delicious and moist (no more than 15-20min in the oven @425F), so that the center is moist and the outside have a chance to cook up the marinade…it's not the same as salmon sashimi texture, but it's still nice and moist & not dry.

  4. Timothy says:

    I love salmon!

    Okay the real reason I’m commenting was for a random, kine of weird comment haha hopefully you won’t find it too weird. Last night I had a dream I was in master chef and it was my second year trying. I was in the top 5 and we were making a dessert but by the end the only thing I had was a bowl of pudding, without needing to say I was eliminated. Funny thing is that the biggest reason I was sad inside the dream wasn’t because I lost master chef but because when I went to say bye to you you said nothing and walked away lol okay hopefully that wasn’t too weird! Have a great day Christine!

  5. Kenny Shoo says:

    Omg!! Just made a batch of it and it taste amazing! Love it Christine. (:

  6. Charles says:

    Looks great Christine… FYI from a guy from Hawaii: POH-kee (Incorectly pronounced by most people in Hawaii) is cat. POH-keh is fish. Don't know how many people out there are eating poki…

  7. Hangzhou Hero says:

    Late to the party, but whatever.

    I also prefer nearly all fish raw or cooked whole as in Asian preparations, but about a year back I realized how difficult it is to actively cook and prepare a cut of fish that’s moist and flaky if fully cooked through, or getting that sort of perfect medium-rare you might have with a good piece of ahi tuna. So just out of spite I tried to teach myself how to do it, and who else but to give me the initial technique on how to cook salmon but Gordon Ramsay:

    If the link doesn’t work just search for “Ramsay Salmon” on youtube, it should be the first link. It details how to cook his “crispy salmon” and it’s a very simple and straightforward preparation– your hubster probably only needs to tell you a bit on Ramsay’s prep and the doneness on the skin of the salmon. While it may still not stand up to a sashimi as wished, I think it does give the fish a different perspective that isn’t bad once in a while.

    But the most important aspect of all of it is that I eventually realized that fish is still meat, and so there should be a lot more “don’t even move the bloody thing” once you put it into the pan and to really treat it like you’re trying to cook a burger or a steak for someone. The great thing is that you can do a lot of touching and feeling with your hands for doneness, without visual cues, because it IS meat. Once I came upon that realization I’ve done better when I’m preparing fish in that European/modern style, and it really boosted my awareness in the kitchen, something that you clearly already have but for starving clumsy oafs like me it was a big moment in my cooking life!

    Eric Ripert was also another person I read a few recipes on to get an idea on how to prepare fish in a cooked manner, if you’re interested.

    You’re an inspiration for graduate students everywhere, Christine!

  8. Appledaisy says:

    Definitely a very late comer to this blog. Just watched the finale and absolutely love the dishes you presented. Maybe you can post the recipes some day. 🙂
    I also love raw salmon and never did like cooked salmon till I discovered this slow cooked salmon recipe with cilantro pesto.
    The recipe is from
    It still has the melt in your mouth tender salmon like raw salmon but its not raw…sorry if I'm not describing it well enough. If you still don't like the salmon this way, I hope you love the pesto…it's the one I always make now and use the leftovers for pasta or sandwich spread.

  9. Robert says:

    I'm also new to the blog thanks to Ben Starr's link.. Congrats btw, you made me cry more than a few times. I'm going to try this recipe. The best cooked salmon I have ever had at a restaurant is at Abuelo's mexican food believe it or not. I always order the potatoes and spinach as my sides. It used to be better there several years ago when the portion size was bigger. I'm guessing it is cooked on a flat grill with plenty of butter, the edges are crispy and perfect. The middle medium rare or rare and plenty of moisture. The sauce which I ask for double of is some sort of butter, lemon, garlic, maybe cream and it used to have a few capers. Sweet, fatty, and acidic. I cannot stand other chains that overcook with a thick teriyaki glaze. ugh.

  10. Cathi says:

    Pickled salmon recipe

    use a non-reactive serving dish with straight sides that will just barely hold the cubed fish in one layer

    I use a rectangular ceramic baking dish from Portugal

    first salt the dish with non-iodized salt, such as la Baleine, blue canister …. then atop the layer of salt, arrange the cubes of skinned salmon so they’re fairly tightly packed and salt the fish

    cover the fish completely but just barely with fresh squeezed lemon juice and sprinkle generously with nuoc mam. you may add a pinch or two of cayenne if you like.

    let stand 10-15 minutes and serve with cocktail picks.

  11. Harrison says:

    Hi Christine,
    Love your simple recipe. I worry about the parasites though. Do you happen to know the best way to select a clean piece of fish. Thanks!
    BTW, congratulations on winning Master Chef!


  12. About Foood says:

    This looks yummy. congrats on winning Masterchef!

  13. Christine Ha says:

    I would not think to make canh chua from salmon because I don't think of it as fatty enough, even with the belly. At that point in the competition, I would've thought canh chua in less than an hour would be nearly impossible. But then I did make a canh chua inspired soup with the Santa Barbara spotted prawns in a later episode, so I guess it's feasible…though filleting a whole salmon would take me longer than butchering those prawns so the canh would cook in a shorter amount of time.

  14. This is really sounds like what i've been really looking for. I wish to do this on our own.

  15. Alan says:

    its pronounced PO-KEE

  16. Yum says:

    Lol, not to be rude or anything, please don't be offended, but poké is spelled poké. and its pronounced Pok-ei not pokee

  17. jajacox says:

    Agree with the above poster. Although I stopped eating it after a few times of getting violently ill – eat with caution and know your fish.

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