So many Poke Bowl recipes disappoint with bland dressings and tasteless rice…. Skip the store bought! Homemade really IS tastier, you get to top it with what you want and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper too!!!
Poke Bowl recipe
I may be a true-blue Aussie, but the Japanese blood in my veins demands that Poke Bowls be more than just another trendy “healthy” recipe that tastes just okay…..
So here are the 3 things that will make you fall in love with this Poke Bowl even if you’ve had meh Poke Bowl experiences in the past!!
- A really great Poke Dressing – this is the main flavour carrier in Poke Bowls, it’s gotta be great! But all too often, the Dressing falls short. This one is gingery, sesame-y and has complexity from Mirin which makes all the difference!
- Better flavour in the fish! The raw fish is usually served in big cubes or thick slices “sashimi style” which are then drizzled with Dressing. I love it tartare style, finely chopped then tossed in Dressing -> delivers way more flavour and is a great flavour carrier through the rice! PLUS less fish goes further – sashimi grade fish is expensive!
- Seasoned sushi rice – so much better than just plain white rice, it’s tasty enough to eat plain! This is the same rice used to make sashimi and sushi rolls. I make it the Western way to a Japanese standard using just a stove and a pan (rather than rice cooker and wooden sushi rice bowl).
It’s pronounced “poke-ay” bowls, it rhymes with “okay”. But I always mispronounce it “poke”, as in rhymes with “bloke”!
What goes in poke bowls
This is what Poke Bowls have in them:
- Sushi rice – white rice seasoned with a slightly sweet/salty vinegar;
- Dressing / marinade – I call it a marinade, but the fish is only tossed in for mere seconds, that’s all it needs!
- Raw fish – it must be sashimi grade fish, suitable for eating raw.
- Vegetables that are finely cut or shredded (sometimes pickled) and a dressing / marinade; and
- Garnish – like sesame seeds, crispy Asian fried shallots, green onion. Optional, but a nice finish!
There are no rules about what vegetables to use, and you can also use any type of fish you want – more on this below.
Best fish for poke bowls
Poke bowls can be made with any fish suitable for eating raw in sashimi form. Tuna is the classic for Poke Bowls, and salmon is also very popular.
Other fish suitable for poke bowls include: kingfish, ocean trout, swordfish, yellow tail, trevally and bonito. These are all fish that the Japanese use for sashimi because they have soft flesh that are relatively mild flavoured.
In comparison, fish like snapper and cod have chewy, sinewy flesh when raw which is why it’s not used for sashimi.
How to tell if fish can be eaten raw?
Fish suitable for eating raw is sold labelled as “sashimi-grade fish”. It’s higher quality and fresher than fish sold for cooking – and usually more expensive. But you don’t need much per serving – only about 80g / 2.5 oz!
Poke bowl dressing / marinade
I call this a marinade but it’s barely one because I don’t do anything more than toss the fish in for a mere second before piling it onto the rice. Fish chopped this small is very delicate, so it doesn’t need marinating time – the dressing that coats the fish pieces will penetrate into the small pieces while you’re plating up and eating it.
You’ll find that the tuna is soaked with plenty of flavour so once it’s all mixed up with the rice, it doesn’t need much more dressing. But it does need some, so this recipe makes enough marinade/dressing so you’re left with some to drizzle over everything.
How to make poke bowls
I keep reading everywhere about how quick ‘n easy Poke Bowls are to make. And the veggies and fish are – but if you want to make a tasty sushi rice for the poke bowls, it does take a good 45 minutes or so!
- Cook sushi rice – rice cooked the normal way which is then gently mixed with a sweet-salty vinegar mixture, then left to cool to absorb the flavour. See below for step photos.
- Dressing/marinade – Quick mix job
- Sashimi fish – dice it up like you’re chopping an onion! (OK, I lie – use a more gentle touch 😂)
- Slice / dice / shred veggies into eating-friendly size, pile onto rice in bowls.
- Toss fish into Dressing then immediately transfer onto rice. DO NOT leave to marinate – will make fish too salty and also “cure” it slightly, alternating the texture.
- Drizzle remaining Dressing over the bowls then serve immediately!
How to make Sushi Rice for Poke Bowls
While many Poke Bowls are made with plain rice, I like to use flavoured sushi rice, the same rice used to make Sushi Rolls and Sashimi. It’s a particular type of white rice sold labelled as “Sushi Rice” on the packets.
It’s a short grain white rice that is kind of sticky which makes it suitable for forming into little mounds to make sashimi and into rolls to make sushi rolls. For Poke Bowls, it makes it easy(ier!) to pick the rice up with chopsticks.
To make sushi rice, a vinegar + sugar + salt Sushi Rice Seasoning is poured over the rice while hot so it absorbs the flavour as it cools. It seems wet and sticky at first, but as it cools, the rice absorbs the flavour and dries out to the perfect sticky sushi rice texture!
The traditional way to make sushi rice (ie the way it is made by the Japanese) involves a rice cooker and large wooden sushi rice mixing bowl.
The Nagi way to make sushi rice to a Japanese standard involves a saucepan and glass 9 x 13″ pan!
Great hot weather food – and “trendy” to impress!
Poke Bowls are a terrific hot weather food, given they’re intended to be eaten at room temperature.
Plus, there’s the added bonus of being so “on trend”, right? 😂 Being all the rage that Poke Bowls currently are!
And though today I’ve shared a Poke Bowl recipe made with raw tuna, in fact, you could make this with cooked fish, shellfish or shrimp/prawns. Just cook, then chop or flake, then follow the same steps to toss in Dressing and pile onto rice. I know using cooked salmon and even canned tuna for Poke Bowls is a bit of a favourite amongst some of my friends! – Nagi x
More great hot weather meals
- Prawn/Shrimp Mango Orzo Salad
- Anything you can throw on a BBQ
- Marinated Vegetable Pasta Salad
- Chicken Pasta Salad
- Peanut Noodle Salad
Watch how to make it
Tuna Poke Bowl
Recipe video above. The Dressing is what makes or breaks a Poke Bowl. This Ginger-Sesame one MAKES it!!! Mirin is the secret ingredient – it adds complexity and flavour that’s missing from usual Poke Bowl Dressings. It looks like a long list of ingredients and there are quite a few bits and pieces, but it’s actually a very leisurely recipe to make. (PS Dicing fish is great flavour carrier technique) GREAT HOT WEATHER FOOD!
- 2 cups (400g) sushi rice (, rinsed (Note 1))
- 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) water
Sushi Rice Seasoning:
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) rice vinegar ((Note 2))
- 2 tsp sugar (, white)
- 1/4 tsp salt
Ginger Marinade Dressing:
- 1.5 tbsp light or all purpose soy sauce ((Note 3))
- 2 tsp dark soy ((Note 3))
- 2.5 tbsp toasted sesame oil ((Note 4))
- 2 tbsp mirin ((Note 5))
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar ((Note 2))
- 2.5 tsp chilli paste or Sriracha
- 1.5 tsp grated ginger (, fresh)
- 350g / 12oz sashimi grade tuna ((or salmon, trout or kingfish), diced 0.7cm / 1/4″ dice (Note 7))
- 1 small carrot (, finely julienned)
- 1 cucumber (, deseeded and finely diced (Note 7))
- 1 small avocado (, peeled and cut into 8 wedges (or dice))
- 6 red radish (, finely sliced)
- 1 cup shelled edamame (, boiled or steamed per packet (Note 8))
- 1 green onion (, finely sliced on the diagonal)
- Black sesame seeds
Place water and rice in a large saucepan over medium high heat, no lid.
As soon as it comes to a boil (see video), lower heat to medium low, place lid on and leave for 18 – 20 minutes or until water is completely absorbed). DO NOT stir, DO NOT remove lid!
Remove from stove with lid still on and leave undisturbed for 15 minutes.
Sushi Rice Seasoning:
- Mix Sushi Seasoning ingredients until sugar dissolves.
Spread rice out into large pan (23 x 33cm / 9 x 13″), drizzle half Seasoning all over.
Using a rice paddle OR rubber spatula, cut through the rice and gently fold the rice over (see video!) to mix the Seasoning through.
- After 1 minute of mixing, drizzle remaining Seasoning then cut/fold for 1 minute. Will look wet but will absorb in next step.
Leave rice to cool to warm or room temp (if you can stick it in front of a fan, that’s even better!) – about 20 minutes.
Poke Bowl Assembly:
Dressing: Mix ingredients in a bowl.
Divide rice between bowls. Top with radish, carrot, edamame and avocado.
Place tuna in Dressing and toss (no need to marinate), then immediately transfer onto rice.
Sprinkle cucumber over the top (mainly on tuna), then green onion and sesame seeds.
- Drizzle over remaining Dressing then serve!
1. Sushi Rice – particular type of short grain white rice that is kind of sticky which makes it suitable for making sushi, and is also a bit more absorbent so can absorb the sushi rice vinegar without going mushy. Sold in packets labelled “sushi rice” (helpful! 😂).
Short grain white rice also suitable, then next best is medium and plain long grain rice (can use sushi rice seasoning). Jasmine also fine, basmati adds an Indian/Middle Eastern aroma which might seem a bit out of place in this dish! Quinoa, wild rice and other grains also fine – but skip the sushi seasoning.
Rinsing rice – place in colander, and swish around with your hands under running water for 15 seconds. Drain off excess water well before transferring into saucepan.
2. Rice Vinegar – also labelled “rice wine vinegar”, this is Asian vinegar made from (yep, you guessed it) RICE! Not as harsh as normal white vinegar and has slight Asian flavour.
3. Soy Sauce – The dark soy sauce stains the tuna that nice dark colour and adds flavour to the Dressing. Light and all purpose soy is salty but doesn’t have the same intensity of colour or flavour.
Sub Dark Soy with more light or all purpose soy.
DO NOT use dark soy in place of light or all purpose – will make dressing way too strong flavoured!
4. Toasted Sesame oil is dark and has a more intense sesame flavour than untoasted (yellow oil, harder to find in Australia)
5. Mirin is a sweet Japanese cooking sake. Sub with Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine) PLUS 3/4 tsp sugar. If you can’t consume alcohol, sub with 2 tsp honey plus 3 tsp unsweetened grape juice or apple juice (yes really, fruit juice will provide complexity to the Dressing to make up for not using Mirin, won’t taste fruity).
6. Sashimi Fish – sashimi grade fish essential here. Should be labelled as such at the shops – it means they are fresh and good quality enough to eat plain. You don’t need much – 80 to 100g / 2.5 – 3.5oz per person is enough for Poke Bowls. Fish isn’t dense and once chopped, a small amount goes far.
7. Cucumber – cut lengthwise into half then quarters. Then cut off the watery seeds in the middle of the cucumber (I eat it!). Then finely dice the cucumber “meat”.
8. Edamame are soy beans, and in the last decade they’ve become all the rage. In Japan, they’re traditionally served as a small appetiser to nibble on, usually in the pods. They’re also sold frozen already taken out of the pods which is what I use here. Even sold at large grocery stores nowadays, like Coles, Woolies and Harris. Boil or steam like peas!
8. Nutrition includes 1 cup cooked sushi rice per serving. Recipe does make more rice than you will probably need, but it’s better than being short!
Life of Dozer
Currently in VIETNAM making the first RecipeTin Eats foodie travel video!!!
This fur ball is the reason I no longer travel overseas as much as I used to. I just love him so damn much, and I hate leaving him behind – even though I know perfectly well he’s at a 24-7 party with his best friends at the Golden Retriever Boarders’ house!!