Is this hot new food trend all it’s cracked up to be? We explore poke and deliver some of our favorite poke bowl recipes.
If you’re into healthy eating, you’ve probably seen the word “poke” bouncing around your favorite health and fitness blogs and Instagram accounts over the past couple of years. Discover its ingredients and health benefits, and find out how to make a poke bowl at home.
What is poke?
Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is the traditional Hawaiian salad that’s taking over the continental U.S. Also known as an ahi bowl, poke has really hit it off with one particular group—health food enthusiasts—so as you can imagine, we’re already interested!
In Hawaiian, poke means “to slice or cut” for a very good reason: that’s exactly what you do when you’re preparing it. The most important ingredient in any poke bowl recipe is raw, marinated fish that’s been chopped up into cubes. The dish was actually invented by fishermen, who would take the cut-offs from their catch, dice them up, season them, and eat their delicious poke while they were out on the water.
The health benefits of poke all come down to the ingredients. They’re rich in lean protein and contain heart-healthy fats from the fish, while they also have lots of fiber, antioxidants and vitamins. Most poke bowl recipes include yellowfin tuna, which has an exceptional amount of protein, in addition to its plentiful supply of omega oils. Put simply, there’s a reason that poke bowls are becoming the post-gym meal of choice for fitness bunnies everywhere. Of course, that’s if you stick with the traditional ingredients of fish, rice, and vegetables. If you load up a massive portion or add too many sauces, the much-praised health benefits of poke bowls may quickly disappear.
How to make a poke bowl
When making a poke bowl, the opportunities are virtually endless. As we mentioned, the main ingredient is fish. Traditionally, poke bowl recipes use yellowfin tuna (ahi) or octopus, but there are plenty of other fish that you can use, including salmon and snapper. If raw fish isn’t exactly making your heart race, you can substitute it for cooked crab or tofu. You can also sear the fish, but make sure you don’t overcook it.
After you’ve chosen what type of fish to use, it’s time to prepare the base. Most poke bowl recipes use a layer of rice (normally jasmine), although you could also use noodles or kelp salad. Whatever you do, make sure that you’re careful with your portions.
Next up, we’ve got vegetables. This is the stage at which you really get to customize your bowl. From avocado to crispy onion, edamame beans to seaweed, you can really take your poke bowl recipe in any direction you want.
Dressings of soy sauce, ponzu, or spicy black bean paste can be used to add a little vim. Hot sauce is also key. Wasabi is also a popular choice, while lots of people add spicy chili flakes and sriracha. It really just depends on how much heat your taste buds can handle. Finally, add seasoning! There are lots of little seasonings you can add to your poke bowl recipe to enhance the flavor, from sesame seeds to sea salt.
Want to make your own poke bowl but don’t really know where to start? No problem. Take a look at three supremely simple recipes for delicious poke.
Poke bowl recipe #1: Poke salmon rice bowl
This delicious poke salmon rice bowl comes courtesy of Lucy Loves.
17.6 oz salmon fillet
3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 heaping tablespoon shichimi, a common Japanese spice mixture
1 teaspoon soy sauce
A squeeze of fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper
A pinch of furikake seasoning
Your choice of cooked sushi, Thai sticky rice, edamame beans, sliced avocado, or coriander shoots
- Leave salmon in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up.
- Cut salmon into small cubes and place in a bowl.
- Combine mayonnaise, sriracha, shichimi, soy sauce, lime, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.
- Stir and add salmon.
- Cover and leave in fridge for up to 24 hours.
- Before serving, add vegetables, sushi, or rice.
- Add a sprinkle of furikake.
Poke bowl recipe #2: Ahi tuna poke bowl
Our second poke bowl recipe, from Natalie Jill, is a delicious choice for anyone after a more traditional recipe.
2 tablespoons coconut aminos, a salty condiment used as a substitute for soy
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup sushi-grade ahi tuna, cubed
2–3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cucumber, skinned and thinly sliced
1 handful mixed greens
- Whisk the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and seeds, and red pepper flakes in a medium mixing bowl.
- Add the cubed tuna, cucumber, and scallions.
- Gently stir together to dress the tuna.
- Marinade for 5 minutes.
- Pit and cube the avocado (the chunks should be of a similar size to the tuna).
- Add to the tuna mixture.
- Add a handful of mixed greens to a bowl and top with the tuna mix.
Poke bowl recipe #3: Hawaiian salmon poke bowl
This delightful salmon poke bowl, created by Lindsay Pleskot, is a wonderfully light option to enjoy for a summery lunchtime snack.
3/4 cup rice
1 lb sushi-grade wild salmon
1/2 cup edamame beans, shelled
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup wakame salad
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Optional toppings: pickled ginger, wasabi, togorashi (Japanese spice mix)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2–1 teaspoon chili flakes
1/4 cup sliced green onion
2 tablespoons chopped roasted seaweed
- Cook rice according to package directions.
- Prepare your veggies and toppings as described above and set aside.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine your sauce ingredients and whisk with a fork.
- Cut your salmon into bite-sized cubes of approximately 1 inch and add them to the bowl with your sauce mixture.
- Stir to coat pieces evenly, adding more of any of the sauce ingredients to taste if needed.
- When rice is cooked, divide between bowls. Top with your salmon mixture and arrange your toppings around the bowl.
- Finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.
Want to channel your love for all things poke? With so many different ingredients and combinations to choose from, there are lots of poke bowl recipes that you can easily make at home.