This classic Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl is made with chunks of fresh tuna tossed in liquid aminos, sesame oil and onion. It’s rich and buttery taste pairs perfectly with sweet mango slices, creamy avocado and crunchy cucumber. Each bowl is loaded with protein, healthy fat and carbs. Basically, it’s the ultimate well-balanced meal!
I (Kalie) was introduced to poke a few years ago while on a trip to Hawaii with my hubby. At the time I had no idea what poke was, but I’m always excited to eat new things. After trying it, Erich and I went back to the little poke shop so often during our trip that the guy behind the counter knew our order by heart.
Since then, our family could literally eat poke bowls all day, every day… especially during the hot summer months. To say we’re slightly addicted is an understatement! So, today we’re bringing you our spin on one with a simple, healthy homemade spicy mayo sauce. It’s like a taste of Hawaii in your own house!
What is poke?
Pronounced poh-keh (rhymes with okay), poke is the Hawaiian word for “to slice or cut.” In its most common form, poke uses raw fish marinated with sesame oil, soy sauce (or liquid aminos) and onions. It’s a mix of Hawaiian technique with Japanese ingredients and yields one of the most mouth-watering dishes I’ve had to date.
What kind of fish is used in a poke bowl?
First and foremost, make sure you’re using sushi grade fish (also called sashimi grade). Sushi grade fish is meant to be eaten raw. Since these bowls are made with raw fish, you’ll want to get your fish close to the time you’re making them. There are no rules here, so feel free to get creative with whatever fish you choose to add (as long as it’s sushi or sashimi grade). Most poke bowls are made with ahi tuna (yellowfin), albacore, yellowtail or salmon. If raw isn’t your thing, use cooked crab (the real stuff, not Krab with a K) or shrimp in place of it.
If you’re using tuna, look for a piece of fish with very little connective tissue (white streaks) because it can make the fish chewy.
If you’re not a fan of fish at all (or if you have a vegetarian guest coming over), you can use tofu, cooked beets or fresh watermelon for a creative spin on traditional poke that still has all the flavor and a similar vibrant look.
Poke is all about that fish in a delicious, subtle sauce, what you do beyond that is entirely up to you!
Customize your bowl until your heart’s content. If you love shrimp, add shrimp. If you’re a texture gal and want a little more crunch, add some red bell pepper. Get creative with the sauce you top your bowl with (avocado mayo, ponzu, etc.), although our personal favorite is Spicy Asian “Mayo.”
Some toppings you may love:
- zucchini noodles
- nori or Furikake (cut into squares)
- edamame beans
- red peppers, thinly sliced
- fresh ginger
- seaweed salad
- sweet Maui onion
- green onion
- sesame seeds (or Everything Bagel seasoning)
- macadamia nuts
- lime wedges
- crushed red pepper
- any veggies you have on hand
Poke bowls are definitely nutritious and healthy (hello, heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids) BUT if you start slathering your bowl in unhealthy sauces or toppings (like crispy fried wonton strips) it can easily take a turn for the worse. Good news, all the toppings above have been given the green light!
Rice, cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles or greens – what’s your base of choice?
If you frequent FULLforLife, you know we’re HUGE fans of batch cooking and then using leftovers in other meals. We love to use a rice cooker to prepare a double batch of rice and then pair it with other meals (like these Teriyaki Stir-Fried Veggies) throughout the week.
You can use cauliflower rice for a low-carb option, which tastes just a delicious! If you don’t want rice at all (this is Kalie’s favorite way to eat her bowls) you can use greens as the base instead.
Healthy tip: If you opt for traditional rice, look for 100% whole grain rice rather than highly refined white rice. Whole grain rice provides essential nutrients that its ultra-processed counterpart doesn’t offer.
Should the rice in the poke bowl be served hot or cold?
Poke bowls are traditionally made with super cold fish served over a bed of warm rice. The contrast of warm and cold is a delight.
Spicy Asian “Mayo” is by far our favorite sauce to top poke bowls. It combines the zesty flavors of honey, lime and spice with the creaminess of Greek yogurt. It’s one of those condiments that can bring richness to just about anything, without adding a bunch of calories. Bonus, it takes all of 2 minutes to toss together and can be as spicy or mild as you wish.
Why homemade? The store-bought versions often use soybean oil (or some sort of highly processed vegetable oil), sugar and preservatives. Basically, they’re not all that good for you.
If you’re not a big fan of spice, you can use any sauce of your choice (rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, even just a spritz of lime juice is good!).
Cutting your poke
You don’t have to be a sushi chef to cut your fish BUT make sure you use a very sharp knife.
Can you eat leftover poke?
Poke is definitely best eaten the day it’s made, but it can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
A few creative ways to reuse your leftovers:
- Wrapped in a homemade tortilla and topped with thinly sliced radishes, cilantro and peach salsa
Poke party theme night
If you’re anything like our family, then you LOVE theme nights. Whether we’re at home cooking for our family or having friends over for dinner, we’re all about unique ideas to make mealtime delicious AND fun!
Theme nights are one of the easiest and best ways to get your family to try new things. For your poke party, slice and set out all your toppings in separate bowls. Make your poke (you can make one, two, heck, even three types – we often make both Salmon and Ahi Tuna poke). When it’s time to eat, sit your poke in a bowl over ice so it stays chilled.
A poke bar is a simple way for everyone to make their own personalized bowls, while enjoying one another and a new experience. Try it!