Poke bowls are easy to make in your own home! Buy your favorite toppings and enjoy a totally custom poke bowl for cheaper than buying it in a restaurant.
Do you like to poke?
I’m not talking about jabbing your finger into someone’s arm.
This is about po-kay, and I’m talking about bowls of deliciousness!
These bowls of rice (or salad) topped with a myriad of tasty toppings originate from the Land of Aloha, where “poke” means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian. In these bowls, the poke is the cut-up fish, and many of the toppings reflect Hawaii’s Asian/Japanese heritage.
My guess is this dish has actually been around for a long time, but it didn’t go mainstream and explode onto the food scene internationally until the last several years.
And aren’t we glad it finally did??
It’s no wonder it became such a hit as it’s a fast-food option that is actually a healthy meal on-the-go. However, why pay someone else to make them for you when you can make it right in your own kitchen? It’s easier than you think!
The base can be brown rice, sushi rice, noodles, salad, or a combination. Rice is, obviously, more filling, but using a salad as a base is lot lighter and a good option if you are reducing or avoiding carbs.
Poke bowls often center around some sort of protein, most commonly raw fish. This recipe focuses on raw salmon, which I usually like to mix with cooked shrimp.
An important thing to remember is to purchase sushi-grade raw fish to make sure it has been handled properly. If you prefer a non-fish or vegetarian option, tofu or mushrooms are quite popular. What ever protein you decide to use, it should be cut into small pieces.
While not as common as using fish or seafood, cooked marinated chicken can also be an option.
Mixed with the protein before laying it on the base, the sauce gives the fish and the overall dish its unifying flavor. The sauce I include in this recipe is a simple soy-based sauce which works with everything. However, you can also make your own tweaks to the sauce by adding other flavorings such as garlic or chili sauce.
Mix your protein with your sauce, and then it’s time to start putting together your poke bowl!
Once you’ve added your protein to the bowl, now comes all the other fun stuff! You can load up your bowl with veggies like sliced cucumbers, radishes, shredded carrots, edamame beans, bell peppers, etc. Then there are other taste boosting ingredients like avocado, pickled ginger, wakame salad, or crab meat. Add some crunch and texture to the bowl with a scoop of tobiko (fish roe)!
Do you like a sweet element to your poke bowl? I’ve seen many people who like adding full-flavored tropical fruits to their bowls, like pineapple and mango! While adding fruit is more the Hawaiian style of eating a poke bowl, I prefer keeping it savory and sticking with the Japanese way by leaving the fruit out. The choice is yours in which way you want to customize yours!
Then comes the tasty “accessories” to add the finishing touches to your poke bowl. Top it with sesame seeds, chopped green onions, dried seaweed, crispy shallots or garlic, and furikake.
And your poke is served!
My boys love salmon poke bowls so much, they can’t even wait for us all to be present at the table before digging in! And the great thing is that we each have our own customized bowl. The boys like to keep theirs quite simple…salmon and shrimp and (a lot of) tobiko, maybe some dried seaweed, edamame, furikake, done. I like mine with several items…fish, shrimp, wakame salad, tobiko, pickled ginger, edamame, and all the accessories!
If you like one bowl dishes, but prefer cooked foods, check out my Japanese Butadon Pork Bowl or Japanese Beef Gyudon Beef Bowls. Just as simple and delicious as poke bowls, but in a hot and savory way!
How about you? How do you like to po-kay? Try making your own poke bowls at home and tell me your favorite combinations!
Do-It-Yourself Salmon Poke Bowls
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 3/4 lb. (340g) sashimi-grade salmon
- 4 tbs soy sauce (tamari or liquid aminos for GF)
- 4 tsp rice vinegar
- 4 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp chili oil (optional)
- Chopped shrimp
- Wakame (seaweed salad)
- Pickled ginger
- Shelled edamame beans
- Fresh tobiko (fish eggs)
- Chopped avocado
- Finely chopped pollock
- Green onions
- Finely chopped bell peppers
- Dried seaweed
- Thinly sliced egg omelette
- Furikake seasoning
- Fried garlic
- Divide rice among 4 bowls.
- Mix salmon with dressing. Divide among the 4 bowls.
- Top with your favorite toppings. Garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and chopped green onion.
- Mix and eat!!
- Be sure to purchase sushi-grade raw fish for your poke bowl.
- Other fish options are tuna or yellowtail or halibut.
- Vegetarian options are tofu or mushrooms.
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This post was originally published on October 16, 2017, but was republished in July 2019 with new photos, instructional photos, and writing.