Grilled Avocado Poke Boats

Grilled Avocado Poke Boats

Summer seems to have abandoned us as of late. The evenings have been getting cooler and some mornings are downright cold…or at least what my post-heatwave-body considers cold. I won’t pretend to understand it. In my memory, August has always been the hottest month of the summer. And in all my years in Toronto, I’ve counted September as a summer month because of its soaring temps. But not this year apparently. It’s not that I don’t like fall, I’m actually a huge fan, it’s just I don’t want to rush summer away. The winter is long and harrowing and I don’t even want to think of it crossing my threshold. So, in spite of the thermometer’s current struggle to crest over 25°C, I’m sharing these ultra-refreshing, ultra-summery Grilled Avocado Poke Boats. 

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Poke Ingredients

Okay, I realize I’m a little late to poke game but I had no idea how late. Yes, I know poke took over Toronto two years ago and dominated the mainland United State years before that. But I was completely ignorant of the dish’s lengthy past.

The ponzu dressing in the making

Poke is an ancient Hawaiian dish that was made by local fishermen with the trimmings of the fish they caught and brought to market. Traditional poke consists of raw fish cubed and mixed with limu (seaweed) and sprinkled with inamona (a sort of relish made from roasted candlenut and sea salt). This version is still eaten in Hawaii but poke has become so varied that it is now called limu poke to differentiate. 

Dressing the tuna

Today, Ahi Shoyu poke is the most widely consumed version in Hawaii and abroad. Captured within this variation of the ancient dish is the modern history of the islands themselves. Following contact with the West, onions, and chilis found their way into poke. With the rise of longline fishing, the bony reef fish gave way to deepwater tuna. And as Japanese, Chinese and Korean laborers were brought to Hawaii to work in the sugar and pineapple plantations, the sea salt was replaced with shoyu. But it wasn’t until the 1970s that poke went mainstream. Tamashiro Market in Kalihi was the first to offer different varieties of poke. They were available by the pound and prominently displayed in refrigerated display cases. 

Ahi Shoyu Poke with Watermelon

And now we are here and poke is as varied as it is plentiful. Everything from mayo to kimchi is finding it’s way into the endlessly customizable dish. It’s being served over rice, nestled into salads and topped with precious, itty bitty microgreens. It’s being eaten out of paper cones, bowls and, yes, even avocado boats. And in spite of the recent dip in the number of articles written about poke, the dish isn’t slowing down. This is because long before poke made landfall, it had been eaten by generations of people. That just doesn’t happen and when something isn’t delicious. And, in my experience, delicious things tend to stand the test of time. So now that you have some background on real deal poke, let’s take a look at my totally inauthentic Grilled Avocado Poke Boats.

Brushing the avocados with olive oil

Have you ever grilled an avocado? If the answer is no there’s no reason to feel bad. Up until a month ago, I had the same answer. But I had every intention of changing that because I’d eaten one before.

Grilled avocado with Lime juice and Maldon's Smoked Salt

The year was 2018 and I was doing my best impression of driftwood on a beach in Tulum, Mexico. For some reason this was not a particularly interesting activity for Bae, so he decided we should go to a swank, boho restaurant a short cab ride from the cabana we’d rented. It was and is called Gitano and it has been Instagrammed to death for good reason. It is so gorgeous you feel like you’re on set of some heavily stylized movie. But beyond the painfully sexy surroundings, Gitano has the one-two punch of restaurant excellence: amazing cocktails and mind-blowing food. Everything we ordered was delicious but the dish that stands out was a grilled avocado covered in smoked silvered almonds drizzled with ponzu sauce. I ate it, I died, I was resurrected. Absolutely life-changing.

Grilled Avocado Poke Boats

So, from that moment to this, I’ve been fueled by grilled avocado dreams. And finally, a year and a half later, my grilled avocado moment arrived in the form of these Grilled Avocado Poke Boats. What could be better than grilled avocado? Grilled avocado packed to the gills (get it?) with raw fish salad covered in everything I like.

Grilled Avocado Poke Boats

As a nod to the Gitano avocado that started it all, I opted for a ponzu dressing amped up with wasabi, soy sauce, and mirin. I brought in watermelon for a hit of summer, jalapeno for a little heat and cucumber for some added refreshment. I finished my poke with crushed macadamia nuts in place of the traditional candlenuts. Candlenuts don’t appear to be super available anywhere but Hawaii. But if you have seen candlenuts in the T-dot or anywhere in Canada, holla at your girl. I would love to get my hands on some.

Grilled Avocado Poke Boats

So that’s pretty much everything you need to know about these Grilled Avocado Poke Boats. Grease your grill and slap on those avocados because summer will, apparently, be done before its time.



Grilled Avocado Poke Boats

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Servings 6 as a starter


  • 227g (8 oz) sashimi grade tuna cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1/2 personal watermelon scooped into balls using a melon baller
  • 2-3 mini cucumbers quartered and sliced
  • 1 jalapeno sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp ponzu
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 -1 tsp wasabi paste
  • 1 lime juiced, divided
  • 3 avocados pitted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp finishing salt I used Maldon's Smoked Salt
  • 8-12 pickled ginger slices
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds


  • Place the tuna, watermelon, jalapeno, cucumbers, and cilantro in a large bowl and set aside.
  • In a small bowl whisk to combine the wasabi, soy sauce, ponzu, mirin, garlic, and half of the lime juice. Pour the dressing over the fish mixture and toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
  • Brush a grill or griddle with half of the olive oil. Brush each avocado half with the remaining oil and set aside.
  • Heat the grill on high until smoking. Add the avocado, face-side-up, and grill for 2 minutes. You're just warming the back of each avocado half. Flip the avocados and grill for 3-5 minutes more. Don't take the avocados off of the grill until grill marks are visible and they lift easily off of the grill.
  • Transfer the avocados to a platter and brush them with the remaining lime juice and sprinkle them with the finishing salt. Using a spoon, make the pit cavity wider. Not a ton just a little bit so it can take more poke. Spoon the poke into the cavity and garnish with sesame seeds, chopped macadamia nuts and pickled ginger. Serve immediately.

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