Easy Homemade Poke Bowl
Poke Bowls have become popular in restaurants worldwide, but they’re super easy to make at home, and they shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to prepare, assuming you have some cooked rice.
For my Poke Bowl recipe, I marinate cubes of fresh tuna with sweet onions, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil to make a delicious Shoyu Poke. Then I layer this on top of a bowl of rice with a rainbow of veggies before finishing it off with a crunchy macadamia nut and sea salt topping. The best part about Poke Bowls is that you can change up the fish and vegetables on top to create an endless variety of Poke Bowls, so you and your family never get bored of this easy meal.
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works?
- A savory nutty marinade made from soy sauce and toasted sesame oil seasons and firms up the fish while providing a sauce that percolates down into the rice.
- Using a wide variety of vegetables loads the Poke Bowl up with fiber, vitamins, and minerals while making it a feast for the eyes.
- Topping the Tuna Poke with a mixture of chopped macadamia nuts and sea salt creates a crunchy texture that’s a nice contrast to the velvety tuna and crispy vegetables.
Ingredients for Poke Bowl
- Tuna – Ahi Poke is traditionally made with either Bigeye or Yellowfin tuna (a.k.a. Ahi Tuna), but you can make this bowl with any fish you like as long as it’s been processed for eating raw. This means it needs to have been commercially frozen to eliminate parasites (home freezers don’t get cold enough), handled in a way to avoid cross-contamination, and held at a proper temperature after being defrosted.
- Soy sauce – There are many different styles of Poke in Hawaii, but for these bowls, I like using Shoyu Poke. Shoyu just means “soy sauce” in Japanese, and the savory condiment not only seasons the tuna, but it also firms up its texture while providing a sauce that seasons the rice and vegetables. If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, just use tamari soy sauce.
- Toasted sesame oil – Toasted sesame oil has a rich nutty flavor that compliments the briny tuna.
- Sugar – A small amount of sugar added to the marinade helps balance out the saltiness of the soy sauce while bringing out the natural sweetness of the onions. Honey will also work.
- Sweet onions – Sweet onions are a variety of onions grown in regions that have sandy, low-sulfur soil. They lack the pungent kick of regular onions, making them well suited for eating raw. If you can’t find them, you can “tame” regular onions by soaking them in a solution of baking soda and water (1 teaspoon per 2 cups of water) for 15-20 minutes.
- Toasted sesame seeds – Toasted sesame seeds add a nice texture to the Poke Bowl while giving it a marvelous nutty flavor.
- Macadamia nuts – Hawaiian Poke is traditionally topped with a mixture called inamona made with roasted candlenuts and sea salt. Candlenuts can be difficult to find, so Macadamia nuts make a good substitute.
- Sea salt – In Hawaii, Poke is often seasoned with Alaea salt. It’s a course sea salt with a reddish-orange color due to the iron-rich volcanic clay it contains, but any good finishing salt will work well for this dish.
- Vegetables – I used a mix of lettuce, shelled edamame, watermelon radish, and daikon sprouts, but you can use any combination of vegetables you have on hand. The key is to pick various vegetables that will give your Poke Bowl a broad array of textures, tastes, and colors. This not only makes it fun to eat, but it also ensures you have a good balance of nutrients. Other vegetables I like to include in my poke bowl are avocado, carrots, celery, cucumbers, peppers, microgreens, green onions, and radishes. Seaweed salad and pickled sushi ginger are some other great toppings for poke bowl.
- Cooked rice – Poke bowls are usually served with cooked short grain rice. I’ve used plain unseasoned rice, but sushi rice, which is seasoned with rice vinegar, salt and sugar is a delicious option. If you’re trying to cut back on carbs, you can also serve this over quinoa, cauliflower rice, or bulgur.
How to Make Poke Bowl
Mix the salt and chopped macadamia nuts together in a bowl to make the crunchy inamona.
Add the tuna, onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and sesame seeds to a medium bowl and stir the mixture together to make the Ahi Poke. Shoyu poke is best after it’s marinated for about fifteen minutes, but if you’re in a rush, you can serve it right away.
Now all you have to do is assemble the bowls. This makes enough poke for 2 servings, so I usually start with 2 portions of rice. I like serving this dish in a shallow bowl because it provides more surface area to cover with toppings. Then I start from the back of the bowl, layering on the veggies. Since the Tuna Poke is the main attraction, I’ll add that at the very front of the bowl and then garnish it with a sprinkle of inamona and some edamame.
Other Seafood Recipes
Poke, or Ahi Poke, is a Hawaiian side dish traditionally made by topping raw tuna with candlenuts, sweet onions, seaweed, and sea salt. A more modern variation of Poke that’s inspired by the Asian heritage of many Hawaiians is called Shoyu Poke. It’s made by marinating the fish in a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil. Outside of Hawaii, Poke Bowls have become a popular arrangement of this dish, with Shoyu Poke and a variety of vegetables, fruits, and nuts arranged on top of a bowl of rice.
Poké is a two-syllable word that’s pronounced as follows:
po like possess
ke like kept
The Shoyu Poke on top is well seasoned, so it’s best to spread it around and eat the tuna, vegetables, and rice together. The marinated tuna season rice and toppings, while the different combinations keep each bite interesting.
While “healthy” is relative to your diet and needs, this poke bowl has a balance of both macro and micronutrients. With loads of fresh vegetables spanning a rainbow of colors, it also contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. If you are on a low-carb diet, you can substitute quinoa, bulgur, or buckwheat for the rice.
Eating anything raw carries a risk of food-borne illnesses. With raw fish, you need to consider a couple of things, such as spoilage, parasites, and cross-contamination from improper handling. Spoilage is usually pretty obvious from the smell. In fish meant to eat raw, parasites are usually destroyed by freezing in an industrial freezer (home freezers won’t work). One of the biggest concerns is cross-contamination, which can happen at any point from when the fish was filleted to when you put it in your mouth. Unfortunately, in most countries, phrases like “sushi-grade” and “sashimi-grade” are not regulated, so at the end of the day, it’s up to you to consider your risk tolerance and decide how much you trust your fish vendor.
Yes! I love making poke bowls with carrots simmered in kelp stock. You can check out my Vegan Poke recipe for more details.
Making this poke bowl spicy is as easy as adding your favorite red pepper flakes or hot sauce to the tuna. Sriracha and Shichimi Togarashi are both great options. You can also serve this with a side of spicy mayo, which is just mayonnaise mixed with sriracha.
macadamia nuts (chopped)
coarse salt (to taste)
For Ahi Poke
tuna (cut into cubes)
sweet onion (1/4 onion, chopped)
toasted sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds
For Poke Bowl
watermelon radish (sliced)
daikon sprouts (roots trimmed off)
Make the inamona by adding the macadamia nuts and salt to a small bowl and mixing them together.
Add the tuna, chopped onions, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sugar, and sesame seeds in a large bowl and stir together. It's best to let this marinate for 15 minutes, but you can also serve it immediately.
To assemble the Poke Bowls, line your vegetables up on the back half of two bowls of rice.
Spoon the Poke onto the front half of the rice along with some of the sauce.
Garnish with edamame and sprinkle the inamona on the tuna.