This easy homemade Poke Bowl recipe makes a restaurant-worthy one-bowl meal topped with marinated ahi tuna with soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and a colorful rainbow of vegetables that offer a fun variety of textures and tastes.
Easy Homemade Poke Bowl
Poke Bowls have become popular in restaurants around the world, but they’re very easy to make at home and shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to prepare, assuming you have 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 it over a bowl of rice with a rainbow of veggies before finishing it off with a crunchy topping of macadamia nuts and sea salt. The best part about Poke Bowls is that you can change the fish and veggies on top to create an endless variety of Poke Bowls, so you and your family will never get bored of this easy meal.
Why does this recipe work?
- A savory hazelnut marinade made with soy sauce and toasted sesame oil seasons and firms the fish while providing a sauce that seeps into the rice.
- Using a wide variety of vegetables loads the Poke Bowl 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 contrasts nicely with the velvety tuna and crispy vegetables.
Ingredients for the Poke Bowl
- Tuna – Ahi Poke is traditionally made with bigeye tuna or yellowfin tuna (aka Ahi Tuna), but you can make this bowl with any fish you like as long as it has been processed to be eaten raw. This means that it must have been commercially frozen to eliminate parasites (home freezers are not cold enough), handled in a way to avoid cross-contamination, and held at an appropriate temperature after being thawed.
- Soya sauce – There are many styles of Poke in Hawaii, but for these bowls, I like to use Shoyu Poke. Shoyu simply means “soy sauce” in Japanese, and the salty condiment not only seasons the tuna, 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 complements the brined tuna.
- Sugar – A small amount of sugar added to the marinade helps balance out the salty taste 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 areas with sandy soil and low in sulphur. They lack the spiciness of regular onions, which makes 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 to 2 cups of water) for 15-20 minutes.
- Roasted sesame seeds – Toasted sesame seeds add a nice texture to the Poke Bowl while giving it a wonderful nutty flavor.
- Macadamia nuts – Hawaiian poke is traditionally topped with a mixture called inamona made from roasted candle nuts and sea salt. Candle nuts can be hard to find, so macadamia nuts make a good substitute.
- Sea salt – In Hawaii, Poke is often seasoned with Alaea salt. It’s a coarse 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 choose a variety of vegetables that will give your Poke Bowl a wide range of textures, tastes, and colors. This not only makes it fun to eat, but it also ensures you have the right nutrient balance. Other vegetables I like to include in my poke bowl are avocado, carrots, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, micro greens, scallions, and radishes. Seaweed salad and pickled sushi ginger are other great toppings for the poke bowl.
- Cooked rice – Poké bowls are usually served with cooked short grain rice. I used plain unseasoned rice, but sushi rice, seasoned with rice vinegar, salt and sugar, is a delicious option. If you’re trying to cut the carbs, you can also serve it over quinoa, cauliflower rice, or bulgur.
How to make a poke bowl
Mix salt and chopped macadamia nuts in a bowl to get a crispy inamona.
Add the tuna, onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and sesame seeds to a medium bowl and toss the mixture to make the Ahi Poke. Shoyu poke is best after marinating for about fifteen minutes, but if you’re in a rush, you can serve it right away.
All you have to do is assemble the bowls. That’s enough poke for 2 servings, so I usually start with 2 servings of rice. I like to serve this dish in a shallow bowl because it provides more surface area to cover with toppings. Then I start with the bottom of the bowl, layering the vegetables. Since the Tuna Poke is the main attraction, I’ll add it to the very front of the bowl, then top it with a sprinkle of inamona and edamame.
Other Seafood Recipes
Poke, or Ahi Poke, is a Hawaiian side dish traditionally prepared by topping raw tuna with candle nuts, sweet onions, seaweed, and sea salt. A more modern variation of Poke inspired by heritage Asian food of many Hawaiians is called Shoyu Poke. It is made by marinating fish in a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil. Outside of Hawaii, Poke Bowls have become a popular arrangement of this dish, featuring Shoyu Poke and a variety of vegetables, fruits, and nuts arranged over a bowl of rice.
Poké is a two-syllable word that is pronounced like this:
po to like poEssay
ke to like kept
The Shoyu Poke on top is well seasoned, so it’s best to spread it out and eat the tuna, vegetables, and rice together. Marinated tuna seasons the rice and garnishes, while the different combinations make every bite interesting.
While “healthy” is relative to your diet and needs, this poke bowl has a balance of 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 rice with quinoa, bulgur or buckwheat.
Eating anything raw carries a risk of foodborne illness. With raw fish, there are a few things to consider, such as spoilage, parasites, and cross-contamination from mishandling. Spoilage is usually quite obvious from the smell. In fish intended to be eaten raw, the parasites are usually destroyed by freezing in an industrial freezer (domestic freezers will not work). One of the biggest concerns is cross-contamination, which can happen anytime from filleting the fish to the moment you put it in your mouth. Unfortunately, in most countries, terms such as “sushi quality” and “sashimi quality” are unregulated, so ultimately it’s up to you to consider your risk tolerance and decide how much you trust your fishmonger.
Yes! I love making poke bowls with carrots simmered in kelp broth. You can check out my Vegan Poke recipe for more details.
To make this poke bowl spicy, just add your favorite red pepper flakes or tuna hot sauce. Sriracha and Shichimi Togarashi are two great options. You can also serve it with a side of spicy mayonnaise, which is just mayonnaise mixed with sriracha.
Yield: 2 portions
Preparation time: ten minutes
Total time: ten minutes
Prepare 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 to a large bowl and mix. It is best left to marinate for 15 minutes, but you can also serve it immediately.
To assemble the Poke Bowls, line up your vegetables on the back half of two bowls of rice.
Place the Poke on the front half of the rice with a little sauce.
Top with edamame and sprinkle the inamona over the tuna.
Amount per serving
Calories from fat 198
% Daily Value*
3g saturated fat15%
Trans fat 1g
Polyunsaturated fat 5g
Monounsaturated fat 11g
Vitamin A 274IU5%
Vitamin C 14mg17%
The iron 8mg44%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.