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Beyond the Beach: The Honolulu Fish Auction is a Showcase for Hawaii Seafood

Posted on November 6, 2009

Getting Raw and Wild in Hawaii

While we might be famous for our gorgeous beaches and the ocean activities (or in some cases non-activity i.e. sunbathing) that take place on our shores, Hawaii is also renown for world-class seafood and a fish auction that is unique in the United States.

Each weekday morning before dawn at Pier 38 on the waterfront just past downtown Honolulu, fish buyers for local restaurants, markets and distributors gather to inspect the fresh catch.  What makes Hawaii’s auction unique is our system of selling is based on the traditional Japanese system of selling individual large fish to the highest bidder. It is a system that ensures and rewards quality over quantity. It couldn’t work any other way.

In Hawaii we love our fish!
Buyers Inspecting Fish
Fish up for auction
Fish awaiting purchase
We consume more fish per capita than other state. And one of our favorite ways to eat it is raw. Sushi and sashimi might be top of mind when raw and fish are used in the same sentence, but here in Hawaii, poke is one of our favorite ways to enjoy raw fish.

Poke is Hawaiian method of preparation that I like to think of as Island style fish tartare. It’s a preparation that pre-dates Western contact, when native Hawaiians would slice just caught fish off the bone, season with Hawaiian salt and kukui nut oil and enjoy. Today poke can include soy sauce, chilies, jalapeños, even avocado, and is sold and served everywhere. From local markets and supermarkets to casual restaurants and fine dining establishments.
Delicious poke

I’m often asked by visitors where to get good seafood in Hawaii and while I do have my favorites, I would also highly recommend thinking about what you eat, as well as, where you eat.  And poke is top on my list.  After all, how often do you get to enjoy food in its’ indigenous setting and sourced directly from the waters surrounding you.


Fish Auction

To visit the auction at Pier 38, call Brooks at 808 536-2148 to arrange a tour.
Tip #1: Bring a jacket – the auction floor is 50 degrees.
Tip #2: No one gets in without covered shoes.

Origins of Poke


Honolulu Fish Auction


About Melanie H. Kosaka

Melanie Kosaka is the owner and founder of ShareYourTable – a company specializing in culinary television production and interactive media.  Her credits include the James Beard award winning series, The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter, Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi, which has been distributed in 66 countries, New American Cuisine featuring star chefs from around the United States, and GetHealthyNowHawaii.com–an online based educational product.  FDM has produced over 500 hours of cooking and lifestyle programming for national and international distribution.
Follow Melanie on Twitter at @shareyourtable

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