A traditional Hawaiian Poke is made using Ahi Tuna, sweet onions, and limu (seaweed). It’s seasoned with a condiment called Inamona, which is made by roasting chopped candlenuts (Kukui) with salt. For my version, I like to add sesame seeds to the Inamona as well as toasted sesame oil to the poke.
I’ve seen a lot of attempts at making plant-based ahi poke bowls using everything from beets to tofu to watermelon. While some of these ingredients may look a bit like tuna, none of them convincingly recreate the velvety texture and briny taste of the original.
For my version, I cook cubed carrots in dashi stock made from kelp, sake, and soy. The kelp and sake add loads of umami, while the soy sauce not only seasons the carrots, it gives the carrots a reddish hue. To get the right texture, I cook the carrots until you can pass a toothpick through them, but they still give a little resistance.
I’d be lying to you if I said my version was exactly like tuna, but the cooked carrots take on a similar texture, and the savory konbu dashi they are cooked in infuses loads of briny umami, which makes this poke satisfyingly flavorful. Speaking of vegan tuna, I also have a great plant-based Tunafish Sandwich recipe.
The konbu broth the carrots are cooked in is extremely flavorful and can be diluted and used as a soup for udon or soba noodles, and it’s also great for cooking rice in.
This plant-based poke can easily be turned into a poke bowl by serving it on top of your favorite grain, seed, or rice along with some edamame, and avocado. You can also add other veggies, like a red cabbage slaw or sliced radishes for a pop of color.
- 7 grams konbu
- 2 cups water
- 2 grams dried seaweed
- 420 grams carrots (peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes)
- ¼ cup sake
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 25 grams candlenuts (roughly chopped)
- 5 grams toasted sesame seeds (~2 teaspoons)
- 4 grams Alaea salt (~1/2 teaspoon)
- 40 grams sweet onion (~1/8 onion)
- 1 scallion (greens finely chopped)
- Add the konbu and water to a pot and let this rehydrate for about 30 minutes.
- If you’re using dried seaweed, rehydrate it in cold water. If you’re using salted seaweed, remove the salt in a couple changes of cold water.
- Add the carrots to the pot of water with the konbu along with the sake and soy sauce. Bring the water to a boil and then turn down the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
- After about 10 minutes, remove the konbu.
- Cook the carrots until they are soft enough for a toothpick to pass through, but still a little firm (about another 10 minutes).
- Let the carrots cool in the broth to room temperature.
- While the carrots are cooling, make the Inamona by adding the chopped candlenuts and sesame seeds to a pan and toast them until they are golden brown. Be sure to toss them around regularly so that they brown evenly.
- When the candlenuts are golden brown and fragrant, add the Alaea salt and toss to distribute evenly. Transfer the Inamona to a heatproof bowl to cool.
- When the carrots have cooled to room temperature, transfer them to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
- Add the sesame oil, onions, seaweed, and about half of the Inamona (being sure to get an even mix of salt and nuts) and stir the poke to combine.
- Plate the poke and garnish with more Inamona and the chopped scallion greens.