Tako Poke (Hawaiian Marinated Octopus)

When many people think of poke they think of the classic marinated tuna, or in much of the mainland US, bowls of rice topped with everything from tomatoes and avocados to a mayonnaise drizzle. But one of the most traditional Hawaiian poke recipes is actually made with tako. Tako being the Japanese loanword for octopus. Tako poke is one of my favorite poke recipes, and for those who aren’t fans of raw fish – the octopus is fully cooked in this dish.

hawaiian tako poke on a lettuce leave in a bowl with two lemon slices as a garnish

Whether you are partial to the classic tuna poke, or the more modern style salmon poke bowls, you should absolutely give tako poke a chance. This traditional recipe uses cooked octopus as the protein – but much of the other ingredients are the same you’ll find in other poke recipes.

If you are a fan of Hawaiian food, but want something less heavy and more refreshing than a loco moco then poke is a great option. You can have it with rice, or eat it standalone.

In this recipe guide I’m going to show you how to make this fabulously tasty tako poke, but also show you just how easy it is to cook an octopus. Believe me, it is not nearly as intimidating as you might think.

What Is Poke?

Poke, pronounced Po-keh, is a traditional Hawaiian dish of diced fish tossed in a marinade. While there are many styles and variations, they usually contain some mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, and onion. It is also common to see seaweed and roasted kukui nut.

These days there is no shortage of creative and inventive new poke recipes. While they may not be considered authentic, they can still be delicious…and really that’s what matters most!

How To Cook Octopus

raw octopus tentacles on a plate

Octopus is very easy to cook. I was lucky to find a good deal on octopus the other day so I got enough to make this poke as well as a tasty octopus ceviche! Since both are prepped the same way it was extra convenient. To cook the octopus bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Place the octopus into the pot and boil for about 18 minutes. This is for my octopus tentacles, if yours are very large you may need to cook longer. Octopus should be firm but not rubbery – it may take a bit of getting used to, so if you are just starting out I suggest starting with one tentacle and testing it before committing all of the rest.

freshly boiled octopus on a green cutting board

To store the octopus I suggest cutting the tentacles apart and storing them in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to use. If you don’t want to cook your own octopus, you can buy cooked ones online.

How To Make Authentic Tako Poke

tako poke ingredients on a marble table

This tako poke recipe is super easy. In fact, if you bought already cooked octopus from the store then you won’t need to cook anything at all.


  • 500 grams Octopus Tentacles (cooked)
  • 1 Sweet Onion (ideally a Maui onion, but a regular yellow onion can be used in its place)
  • 3 tbsp Soy Sauce (add more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Seeds
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 2-3 tbsp Green Onions (chopped, add more to taste)
  • 1 tsp Red Chili Flakes (optional)
a cooked octopus tentacle with a Japanese knife on a cutting board

I like to slice the tentacles in this tako poke on a slight bias. This allows for a nice presentation. I also leave a little bit of the curled tip longer so the final dish looks more ‘tentacle-y’ but that’s purely my aesthetic so you can do different if you like.

unmixed tako poke in a large metal mixing bowl

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl.

freshly mixed hawaiian tako poke in an aluminum mixing bowl

Give everything a good mix using a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Or you can just toss everything with a nice wrist movement like you’ll see at the nice Hawaiian poke food trucks.

homemade tako poke in a plastic container

And just like you’ll get at a local Hawaiian grocery store, I pack my tako poke in a plastic container. Ok, that’s just good food storage practices, but it makes for good writing.

hawaiian tako poke on a lettuce leave in a bowl with two lemon slices as a garnish

You can enjoy your homemade tako poke right out of the container standing in front of the open fridge like I often do. Or you can plate it on a bed of lettuce with a few slices of lemon for a nicer presentation. Enjoy!

Tako Poke

Tako poke is a classic Hawaiian dish of marinated octopus. It is much loved by the local population, and a great snack or appetizer when friends come over.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American, Hawaiian
Servings 4 people
Calories 295 kcal


  • 1 Mixing Bowl


  • 500 grams Octopus Tentacles cooked, then cut on the bias
  • 1 Sweet Onion sliced, ideally a Maui onion, but a regular yellow onion can be used in its place
  • 3 tbsp Soy Sauce add more to taste
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Seeds
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 2-3 tbsp Green Onions chopped, add more to taste
  • 1 tsp Red Chili Flakes optional


Cooking The Octopus

  • Set a pot of water on a rolling boil. Add the raw octopus tentacles and let boil for around 18 minutes. Test for done-ness and add for a few more minutes if you need to (there is a chance your tentacles are larger than mine and in that case you will need to cook them for longer)
  • Remove tentacles and separate. Place in a sealable container and pop into the fridge until ready to use.

Tako Poke

  • Slice the octopus tentacles on the bias and place in a large mixing bowl. Add in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Give everything a good mix and place in a sealable container. Place in the fridge until ready to eat. Enjoy!
Keyword Hawaiian Poke, Octopus, Seafood, Tako
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