What’s the Difference Between Poke and Ceviche?

updated May 1, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: bonchan)

Whether you’re making ceviche or poke, you can keep the heat off, because neither of these two refreshing seafood-driven plates need any time on the stove. With raw pieces of fish cut into chunks and combined with a marinade and toppings, these two foods might seem (and even look) pretty similar, but do you know what sets them apart?

The Difference Between Poke and Ceviche

While both of these seafood dishes originate from warm coastal areas, they’re from two different geographical regions, and as such, draw on very different ingredients to shape their flavor profiles. Poke hails from Hawaii and has traditionally been largely influenced by Asian flavors and ingredients; ceviche has its roots in Latin America and is often accompanied by tangy citrus, fresh herbs, and pepper. But what really sets them apart is the way they’re prepared.

More About Poke

The word “poke” is a Hawaiian term that literally translates into chunk or cut. In its most basic, traditional form, this quintessential Hawaiian pupu, or snack, pronounced “poh-keh,” combines chunks of raw tuna with a simple marinade of soy sauce and sesame oil. Sliced green onions are added for topping.

These days poke also goes way beyond the traditional ahi tuna with soy and sesame marinade. Poke can be, and is, made with just about any type of seafood, and topped with an even wider array of sauces and garnishes. Octopus and salmon are common alternatives.

(Image credit: Cameron Whitman)

More About Ceviche

Ceviche, also referred to as seviche or cebiche, is a popular Latin American seafood dish composed of raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juice. When exposed to the acid for an extended period of time (you begin to see a change in just 15 minutes), the fish’s proteins begin to denature in a manner similar to the way they would when they overheat. As a result, the texture and taste of the fish changes, essentially resulting in an acid-cooked fish.

Ceviche can be made using a wide variety of fish, like snapper, halibut, and sea bass, and shellfish, like shrimp and scallops. Because it’s not cooked with heat, ceviche is served chilled or at room temperature. And in addition to tangy citrus juice, ceviche is typically also topped with ingredients like fresh herbs, chopped red onions, avocado, tomato, and chiles.