Poke Bowl

Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl

IMG_0862Just the other day, a facebook memory popped onto my timeline and catapulted me back to my Summer holiday in Hawaii, July 2018.  A simple bowl of poke (pronounced Poh-Keh) scantily covered in sriracha mayonnaise, resting on sticky sushi rice and decorated with an avocado fan. Before you ask, yes, a lot of my holiday photos tend to be about food.  

Hawaiian food history and culture in a bowl.  A simple bowl of marinated, raw yellow-fin tuna.

Hawaiian poke has become as much of a defining element of Hawaiian culture as the surf board and floral shirt.

Screenshot 2019-07-31 at 23.56.40.png

The history of this simple, national Hawaiian dish dates back to pre-colonial Polynesian times and was created by local fishermen.  Hawaiians fished as and when they were hungry, and the catch of the day made for the perfect meal – indigenous, sustainable and fresh.  They took what they caught that day and preserved leftovers by slicing the fish, tossing with sea salt and “ogo” fresh seaweed to create the first ‘catch of the day’ poke. Poke literally means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian.  This rudimentary poke has evolved from reef fish to “ahi” yellow-fin tuna and a variety of seasonings to include, “pahole fern” and “kuki nut” ingredients native to the islands.  However, since first contact with Asian and Western cultures, spring onions, chillies, avocados and soy sauce have become common additions to poke.

Fish generally found in poke bowls are tuna, salmon and pacific marlin (a cousin of the swordfish).  Octopus “he’e” is another island favourite.  Substitute seafood for tofu to make it vegetarian.

Poke is everywhere in Hawaii, you can buy it at grocery stores and beach shacks.

Hawaiians usually serve poke as a starter in place of a salad but if you want to make it a more wholesome bowl, serve it over rice like the Japanese rice bowl Donburi. However, for lighter versions serve over leafy greens or a kale salad, or substitute rice for quinoa.  The possibilities are as limiting as your imagination and palate. 

The basic components of the marinade are soy sauce and sesame oil but you can get creative with the dressing.  Sriracha mayo, wasabi mayo, freshly grated ginger juice, chopped chillies in soy, Japanese yuzu and rice vinegar. 

IMPORTANT: If using raw fish AVOID lime juice in the marinade as this will ‘cook’ the fish ceviche-style. Squeeze lime juice over before serving to freshen the dish.

With the Blue-fin tuna open season due to commence on 5th August – why not land yourself some fresh tuna and try making a simple blue-fin tuna poke bowl as a healthy lunch or light dinner?  Or better still, invite friends round for a DIY Poke Bowl Party – super easy and quick to prepare for a large crowd.

To create a poke bowl, you will need to get hold of sashimi-grade tuna/salmon.  Don’t freak out, all this means is that the fresh fish has been frozen to kill off any parasites and then defrosted ready to eat safely.  If you are fortunate enough to get fresh tuna from a local fisherman that gives it to you still warm and pulsing make sure to freeze this overnight before using it the following day.

Gastrorob’s Poke BowlIMG_4102


200g Sashimi-grade tuna
2 Spring onions
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1/3 cup Vegetable oil
2 Tbsp Sesame oil
150g Sushi rice
1/2 Ripe avocado
1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
Fresh ginger
1 Tbsp honey
Fresh Coriander


1st: In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, honey and grate in a thumb size piece of fresh ginger.  Chop the spring onions and add to the bowl.

2nd: Cut sashimi-grade tuna into bite-size chunks and add to the bowl.  Mix this gently and leave in the fridge for anything from 15mins to 1hour.

3rd: Use any rice you wish – I prefer using sushi rice which is slightly sweet and sticky once boiled and feels authentic but feel free to use any rice you have in your cupboard.

4th: Make the Sriracha mayonnaise by combining the sriracha sauce and mayonnaise and mixing well.  You may wish to slacken the mixture with some lime juice/water so that it’s easier to squeeze over the tuna.

5th: Plate up.  Serve the warm rice in a bowl and add the marinated tuna to the dish.  Place sliced/cubed avocado on the side and top with the green parts of spring onions and coriander.  If you have sesame seeds (white or black) these add great crunch to the dish. Chopsticks of fork – your choice.

Optional toppings are:

Screenshot 2019-08-01 at 00.06.10.pngAvocado: adding creaminess to the dish

Cucumber: for crunch

Edamame beans (steamed): for freshness and crunch

Mango: for sweetness and fruity punch

Radish: for crunch and pepperiness

Wasabi paste, pickled ginger, fresh ginger juice, chillies: for a spicy hit

Shredded nori seaweed: for greater umami and depth of flavour

Macadamia nuts (chopped): for crunch

If you love sushi as I do but can’t be bothered with the faff of rolling out maki rolls or don’t know where to even begin, take the plunge and dive into a poke bowl.

I’ve been meaning to try recreating a poke bowl since last Summer.  I am so happy with the results that I shall definitely be making this again.  I’m trying out different flavours and can’t wait to try Furikake Rice Seasoning that is being being brought to me direct from Japan! 


One Comment Add yours

  1. Helena Altet says:

    I love to eat Poke Bowls! Thank you for you post 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s