Torched salmon rice bowl from Big Fin Poke. Photo by Leslie Bridgers

When poke bowls first came into my life, it was the multitude of topping options that excited me most. I loved that, often at no extra cost, I could customize a bowl exactly to my preferences – kind of like a salad bar but with value-added items like crab salad and crunchy garlic in place of those pedestrian croutons and carrot shreds. But, in time, the novelty of concocting the perfect poke bowl has given way to the convenience of ordering a pre-selected combination, even if it has something like corn or pineapple that I’ll try to eat around.

For a while, I’ve been eyeing the torched salmon special at fast-casual mini chain Big Fin Poke, but its simplicity kept me from ordering it. Aside from the main event – mayo-slathered salmon topped with shoyu sauce and togarashi – the rice bowl consists of green onion, avocado, cucumber and pickled ginger. Was it even worth getting a poke bowl without maxing out the mix-ins? Was it worth denying myself the mound of seaweed salad or the pop of masago until my next visit? I couldn’t quite get myself there until, like a true American, I was swayed by celebrity influence.

I was at Big Fin’s location by the Maine Mall, fresh off a “New Girl” binge, when the actor who played Zooey Deschanel’s sometimes boyfriend walked in. Sure, I had to Google his name (David Walton), but I was still starstruck. And then, in an almost inaudibly deep voice, he ordered the torched salmon bowl. If it’s good enough for that somewhat famous guy, I decided, it’s good enough for me. And so, on a recent visit to Big Fin’s Rock Row location, I finally went through with the order.

Another thing that had kept me from getting it was the lack of raw fish. I cook salmon myself all the time, so it didn’t seem special enough to order out. What I didn’t consider is that I have never torched salmon, and “torched” is definitely the operative word here. This fish tastes like it came off a campfire and, while it might not be for everyone, it’s worth giving a try. The other ingredients, which I mixed altogether, added creaminess and a kick that perfectly complemented the salmon, freeing me of my notions about what a poke bowl should be and marking the start of a new era in my Big Fin ordering.

Torched salmon, $15.95. Big Fin Poke, 95 Rock Row, Westbrook.

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