If you’re up on your food trends, you'll know that poke bowls are all the rage. Although poke restaurants seem like a rather new occurrence, the reality is that the art of poke goes back a few decades. Pronounced po-keh, this Hawaiian dish consists of raw, cured fish or seafood sliced into bite-sized pieces alongside a zesty sauce, an array of fresh greens, veggies, and sometimes rice or noodles.
Although traditionally served with fish or seafood, poke has evolved to include vegan and vegetarian variations, with proteins like tofu and tempeh rather replacing the animal protein. The downside is that fresh, quality poke tends to veer on the pricier side, so that’s why we’re here to save the day with our own healthy poke bowl recipe! But first, let’s take a look at the background of this culinary delight.
A word about poke
It’s important to note that although poke may seem like a new fad to some of us, but finds its roots in Hawaii in the 1970s and means to cut crosswise into pieces. Even so, rumor has it that Polynesians were creating something similar long before European contact.
Decades later, the poke bowl phenomenon made its way to the continental United States and eventually around the world. Now, you’ll find tasty poke restaurants everywhere from Hong Kong to Berlin.
What’s in a poke bowl?
Like so many other popular dishes today, poke bowl recipes take on influences from a myriad of other cuisines. Hawaiian cuisine often has an East-meets-West vibe that gives you the best of both worlds, and the poke bowl reflects this marriage beautifully.
You’ll often find an array of Asian-fusion elements in modern poke bowl recipes, with many restaurants offering toppings like spicy Korean kimchi, creamy Thai-style peanut sauce and fresh Vietnamese-inspired dressings.
The star of the poke bowl, and what makes poke poke, is the colorful cured seafood the dish is built around. Chefs skin and debone fish before slicing it into bite-size pieces. After slicing and dicing, the chefs dress the raw fish with a mixture of seasonings like salt and vinegar.
Traditional Hawaiian poke is usually made with ahi tuna and topped with Inamona, a condiment made from roasted kukui nut (also known as candlenut), sea salt and seaweed. Unless you’re in Hawaii or you’re dining at a very traditional restaurant, you’ll probably have a choice between several different seasonings and marinades.
One of the biggest draws to dining at a poke restaurant is that you can customize every aspect of your bowl, from the type of base (usually salad, rice or noodles) to the protein, the dressing and the toppings. This makes it particularly popular with people who have specific dietary restrictions or preferences.
Here at 8fit, we like poke because it’s nutritiously dense, filling and delicious. You can pack it full of healthy, bright vegetables, lean proteins like fish and seafood – or at many restaurants, tofu and tempeh – and healthy fats like avocados and sesame seeds. Opt for fiber-rich brown rice or quinoa as your base to make your bowl extra satisfying and nutritious.
8fit’s poke bowl recipe
No poke bowl restaurant near you? Try your hand at making your own with our healthy poke bowl recipe! And don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than it might seem.
A quick note about the fish: It’s crucial to get sushi-grade fish anytime you eat raw fish at home. It may be more expensive, but it’s a small price to pay for not getting sick. Additionally, make sure you’re buying it from a reputable seller, and go for sustainably caught seafood whenever possible. If you have questions, ask the person behind the counter to ensure you get the best possible cut of fish.
Once you’ve bought your seafood, we recommend making your poke with it right away – raw fish is highly perishable! Without any further delay, here’s our tasty poke bowl recipe.
Simple Salmon Poke Bowl
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp honey (optional)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
- ½ pound Sushi grade salmon, chopped into bite-size pieces
- ½ cup Vidalia onions, shallots, or scallions, chopped
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 cups leafy greens
- 1 cup cooked white or brown rice (½ cup in each)
- 1 avocado (½ in each bowl)
- Whisk the rice vinegar, honey and sea salt in a bowl.
- Slice the cucumber into thin pieces and place them in a separate bowl.
- Squeeze the cucumber slices or press them with a fork so that they shed water. Let them rest for ten minutes and pour some of the excess water out.
- To make the poke mixture, combine the fish, onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and crushed red peppers.
- Separate the leafy greens, the rice, the poke mixture and the avocado evenly into two bowls and top with cucumber.