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The Bend Magazine

Cilantro Pineapple Tuna Poke with Guest Chef Danyela Hinijosa

06/06/2018 10:55AM ● By Kayla Butts

Words: Justin and Kayla Butts  Photos: Rachel Benavides

The Water Street Sushi Room feels like home. It is meant to feel that way. For Chef Danyela Hinojosa, the chef and driving force behind this new concept, the Sushi Room is all about coming home.

Danyela launched her career at Water Street Seafood Company back in 2005 when she was a culinary student. She heard about a program Water Street Seafood offered to reimburse culinary school tuition, and she quickly joined the staff. She opened their first sushi concept in 2006 before moving to the West Coast to study the craft of sushi.  

Danyela worked as a sushi chef in Los Angeles, a sous chef at McCormick & Schmick’s in Houston, and as general manager at Panda Express outside Seattle, WA.  Each advance in her career was about pushing herself, expanding her skill set, and challenging herself to become a better chef.

Then, in 2014, Danyela landed the prestigious position as head chef at the flagship Blue C Sushi in Downtown Seattle. Danyela honed her skills in one of the most dynamic and demanding markets for sushi in America.  

“Sushi is an unmasterable craft,” said Danyela. “There is always more to learn, a new level of perfection to attain. Sushi is the eternal striving for perfection.” That relentless drive helped Chef Danyela elbow her way to the front of some tough competition in the sushi world.

That is when Richard Lomax, of Water Street Seafood Company, offered Danyela the opportunity to come home and open the new Water Street Sushi Room in Downtown Corpus Christi. The Sushi Room premiered in April to glittering reviews for the cuisine and the talented chef at the helm.

“Every step I have taken in my career has led me right back here to Water Street—to a company that cares about its people and about the community,” said Danyela. “When you come dine in the Sushi Room, you are coming into our home.”

We asked Chef Danyela to share one of her favorite recipes with The Bend. She prepared a Cilantro Pineapple Tuna Poke that is a masterstroke of simplicity and flavor. This dish combines the sophistication of West Coast haute cuisine with powerful South Texas flavors.

Poke (pronounced POH-kay) is the newest craze in upscale restaurants. Poke is a Hawaiian dish of raw diced fish with rice served in a bowl. In this recipe, Danyela adds caramelized pineapples and her own jalapeño poke sauce to yellowfin tuna. This poke is succulent, sweet, tangy, umami, and a little spicy.  

Prepare this dish at home for an authentic poke experience. Or, visit Water Street Sushi Bar for something interesting and different. Chef Danyela will treat you like family.

Jalapeno Ponzu

Makes about 1 cup
Prep Time: 24 hours
Cook time: 30 minutes


1 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup Ponzu vinegar
¼ cup sugar
3 tsp mirin
¼ cup bonito flakes
2 inches konbu
1 lb jalapenos, stems and seed removed


Roast jalapenos over a wood fire or in the oven @ 500°f until skin is black and blistered.

In a blender, add soy sauce, ponzu, sugar, mirin, and roasted jalapenos and blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a storage container and add konbu and bonito, store in refrigerator. After 24 hours strain mixture through a fine strainer and store for up to 7 days.  

Jalapeno Poke Sauce

Makes about 2 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes


¾ cup soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 cups jalapeno ponzu (see recipe)


In blender, combine all ingredients and blend until sesame oil is emulsified. Store under refrigeration for up to 7 days.

Cilantro Pineapple Tuna Poke

Makes about 2 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes


6 oz Yellowfin Tuna, cubed
1 tbsp Cilantro, washed and chopped
1 cup pineapple, small diced
¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp green onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cucumber, seeds and peel removed, cut to medium dice
Pinch of white pickled ginger, thin sliced
1 tbsp fresh jalapenos, seeds removed, medium diced
1 oz jalapeno poke sauce
A generous shake of sesame seeds
6 oz steamed white rice


Steam rice according to instructions on package.  I recommend using a short grain rice.

In a hot pan, add oil and diced pineapple.  Sautee for 5 min on high heat until natural sugar from pineapple begins to caramelize and edges of pineapple begin to brown.  Remove from heat and let cool.

When the pineapple is cool, combine all ingredients except rice in a medium sized mixing bowl and toss until evenly coated.

On a plate add 3 oz steamed rice.  Gently scoop the poke onto the rice. Finish with an additional shake of sesame seeds and enjoy!