Poke Ulua

E Ho‘olako Mau. Volume II. Tamar Luke Pane‘e. Page 152-153.

Photo By: Dr.Dwayne Meadows


‘Ōlelo No‘eau 145:

‘A‘ohe ia e loa‘a aku, he ulua kāpapa no ka moana.
He cannot be caught for he is an ulua fish of the deep ocean.
(Said in admiration of a hero or warrior who will not give up without a struggle.)


1 pound ulua fillet
1 tablespoon Hawaiian salt
2 teaspoons dry kukui ‘inamona
1/4 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (optional)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1 clove garlic; minced
1 small Maui round onion; sliced

Combine salt, ‘inamona, monosodium glutamate, chili pepper flakes and garlic.  Stir to mix.  Sprinkle over poke.  Add onions.  Gently toss to mix.

About the i‘a:

Ulua is a valued fish food.  Some ulua are grayish-black slightly blue above, lighter below, and white on its belly.  They get dark soon after they die.  White ulua is silvery in color, and darker above.  The flesh is firm and pinkish-white.  It is delicious when breaded and fried, broiled, or baked.  It makes excellent raw fish, sashimi-style, or poke (with ‘inamona, limu, chili pepper, and Hawaiian salt).  Consequently, white ulua is priced higher in markets.

White ulua inhabit sandy beaches, and may be seen day or night.  The black ulua only feeds at night and remain in deep caves during the day.  It searches for food along sandy bottoms, coming close to shore to feed.  It grows to 150 lbs.  The larged recorded weighed 191 lbs.

The young ulua are called pāpio, and weigh from 8 ounces to 10 pounds.  At 10 pounds pāpio are classified as ulua.  Pāpio are plentiful during August to November.  They swim in schools in shallow water along the shore, and are easily caught that way.