Poke Bowls

Hawaiian marinated fish, rice and vegetable salads with cooked and vegetarian alternatives.

I enjoyed a Hawaiian Poke (POH-keh) bowl for lunch at the New York Botanical Garden. Yes – lightly marinated and mostly raw fish like ahi tuna and salmon with lots of vegetables and flavor. I have discovered that this light, fresh, protein rich, gluten free salad is on chic menus all over. These are the new ‘tuna towers’.

The first Poke was a raw fish salad that originated with Hawaiian fishermen taking the trimmings from their catch and marinating it in poke seasonings inspired by Japanese and other Asian cuisines. Seasonings can include soy sauce, green onions, Maui onions, sea salt, sesame oil and Furikake (see ASE article). Although Poke is just gaining a following in the U.S.; consumption of fresh, high grade raw fish is standard fare in many cultures: fish tartare, carpaccio, ceviche and sashimi. I can be squeamish about raw fish, so I have included some vegan and cooked alternatives to the basic recipes.

Poke bowls are fun to serve with add-ins on a platter so that each guest can build individual bowls. Begin your bowl with a grain, add vegetables and greens, add a marinated protein and finish with a creamy aioli.

Here are the basics.

Most Poke bowls begin with a grain –

Jasmati, Basmati or brown rice, cooked quinoa or buckwheat soba noodles (a gluten free grain).

The basic Poke marinade recipe for the protein is:

1 tsp finely chopped shallot

2 TBS soy sauce

1 TBS rice vinegar

½ tsp toasted sesame oil

½ tsp freshly grated ginger root

½ tsp sesame seeds

Optional marinade additions: honey, lime juice, lime zest, Siracha Sauce, Kimchi, Wasabi

The proteins

  • Choose fresh sushi grade tuna or salmon from a trusted fish seller and marinade it for 10 minutes to 2 hours.
  • Cooked shrimp, salmon, tuna or any other fish can be marinated for ten minutes and added to your bowl. It’s not as authentic as raw, but hey, it’s your meal.
  • Imitation crab (you find this at the fish store and in some California Rolls).
  • Edamame, steamed.
  • Crispy Extra Firm Tofu – Press the tofu between two sheets of paper towel under a weighted pan for ten minutes to squeeze out the liquid. Cut into large, bite-sized pieces. Cook in coconut oil over medium high heat for 5+ minutes until golden. Add 3 TBS of coconut (or regular) sugar, 1 tsp of siracha and salt to taste to the pan and caramelize the tofu bites.
  • If you do not care about pure protein – try mushrooms, eggplants, sweet potato which will all soak up the Poke marinade flavor.

The greens and veggies – Go for color and variety –

Any fresh lettuces, spinach or baby kale
Julienned carrots
Ripe avocado
Pea shoots
Radish, sliced
Mango cubes
Grilled pineapple pieces
Cherry tomatoes
Cucumber slices
Jicama bites

Ginger-Lime Aioli Dressing  from MyRecipes.com

1 cup of mayonnaise

1 tsp lime zest

1 tsp orange zest

1 TBS fresh orange juice

2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ tsp salt

Stir ingredients together. Be creative. Add sour cream if you want a rich aioli. Add more lime for a stronger citrus flavor.

Sesame Yuzu Aioli from www.pannacooking.com

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 large egg yolk

1 TBS Yuzu Kosho (Japanese chili paste)

¼ tsp white miso

½ TBS honey

2 TBS toasted sesame oil

½ cup grapeseed oil

2 TBS crème fraiche 9or sour cream)

1 lime

In a mixing bowl, whisk vinegar, egg yolk, yuzu kosho, and miso to a thick paste. Add the honey, then slowly whisk in the sesame oil and the grapeseed oil, a little at a time, alternating between the oils to balance the aioli. Finish by whisking in the zest from 1 lime and the crème fraîche. (Sesame aioli will keep in the refrigerator 2-3 days.)

Anything goes when it comes to building Poke bowls. For inspiration, my favorite Poke food truck offers:

  • Marinated Tuna, avocado, cucumber, grape tomatoes, cilantro, scallion and ginger-lime aioli on brown rice.
  • Marinated salmon, Maui Onion-Mango-Jicama salsa, cucumber, cilantro, seaweed salad on soba noodles.

For more inspiration, check out the menus at these two Poke restaurants. Pokiworks and Love Art Sushi, Wise Fish Poke, Sweetfin Poke.

I like a good short cut, so here are some bottled Poke sauces and seasonings.

Add Sesame oil and/or soy sauce and marinate your fish for two hours.

Hawaiian Poke Seafood Seasoning. $12.32 for 3 oz.

Hawaiian Style Poke Sauce. Contains soy sauce, Sugar, sesame oil, Lemon juice, Ginger powder, Onion Power, Garlic Powder and Xanthan Gum. $12.25 for 12 Fl. Oz.

This preservative-Free Poke Umami Sauce is a blend of Kikkoman Soy Sauce, Kikkoman Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, Kikkoman Sesame Oil and premium spices. 5 Pounds 4 Ounces for $24.95.

Complete your Hawaiian meal.

Offer coconut water, Mai Tai’s, Coconut Mojitos, Pineapple-coconut fruit salad, and Tate’s White Chocolate Macadamia nut cookies plus Kona coffee.

ASE Article: Using furikake in Japanese cooking is as common as salt & pepper in the U.S.



Image credit for the woman eating a Poke bowl. Copyright: https://www.123rf.com/profile_maridav’>maridav