The first time I tried a Poke Bowl was in San Diego with my sister and I loved it instantly! Where had these delicious bowls of goodness been all my life??? I became a huge fan of these bowls but I didn’t like the high prices that restaurants charge for them. I strived to find a budget-friendly way to make them at home while still making them delicious.
If you don’t know what Poke bowls are, they are essentially a raw fish salad that originated in Hawaii. The fish is typically seasoned in a Japanese flavor profile. It is traditionally served as an appetizer, but more and more nowadays it is served as an entree. The great thing about these modernized Poke Bowls is that there are so many toppings you can add! Everything from seaweed salad, mango, crunchy fried garlic or pickled cucumbers. These contrasting flavors and textures make this salad utterly addictive! The topping options are endless and totally versatile based upon what you like.
The first key to making Poke Bowls at home is finding sushi grade fish. This means that the fish is of a very high quality that it can be eaten raw. You might have to do a little searching to find fish of this quality but I suggest talking to local fishmongers or even the fish department at your local grocery store. They may be able to give you some advice about where to get sushi grade fish. Make sure that the fish you purchase has a vibrant color, smells like the ocean and is not a strange texture like weirdly soft, slimy or flaky. Poke Bowls will really shine if your fish is super fresh!
The second key to making an awesome at-home poke bowl is the marinade for your fish-of-choice. I stumbled upon a Poke recipe from Pop Sugar and adjusted it to suite the flavors that I love. For me, the Poke Bowl is elevated to the next level by using lots of toasted sesame oil. I think that is truly the key ingredient in the marinade. Toasted sesame oil is a strong slightly nutty flavored oil but it adds so much depth of flavor to the dish. I find that if you do not add enough toasted sesame oil, the dish can be a bit lack lustre. And we do not want that! Of course, if you are not as big of a toasted sesame oil fan as me, feel free to add less than I recommend in the recipe. Then taste the marinade (before you add the fish) and add more sesame oil as desired. Also, make sure that your toasted sesame oil does not contain any filler ingredients. This can really mask the flavor of the sesame oil – another thing that we definitely do not want in our dish!
This recipe is so simple and easy you could make this very easily in about 10 minutes. I love a Poke Bowl as a super quick dinner during the week. If you want to take this recipe another step further, try making some homemade quick pickled cucumbers to go with it. These quick pickled cucumbers only need about 15-20 minutes to marinate before you eat them. So you could let the cucumbers pickle while you make your fish marinade and other Poke Bowl toppings. Once you are done putting your Poke ingredients in your bowl, the cucumbers will be ready to serve!
This quick pickled cucumber recipe is only 4 ingredients but it definitely packs a flavor punch. This comes from the rice wine vinegar. The flavor of rice wine vinegar is less pungent and slightly sweeter than white vinegar. That flavor is typically more palatable for those that do not like a strong acrid vinegar-y taste. The rice wine vinegar flavor is also balanced with a little raw agave syrup. This combination of ingredients creates a great pickling liquid. You could even use the same pickling liquid for any of your favorite vegetables, such as carrots, cabbage or zucchini.
What about the cost of making these Poke Bowls at home? For the ingredients I use in the Poke Bowl pictured in this blog post, the total ingredient cost was $11.36 for 2 servings. That is about $5.68 per serving. At my local Poke Bar, I could easily spend 2 or 3 times more than that for 1 serving. Of course, if you add or change any of the toppings used, this would affect the price per serving, but overall, I do believe that it is much cheaper to make these Poke Bowls at home. Plus, you have the added versatility of adding as much or as many toppings as you like!
These Poke Bowls are absolutely a favorite dish of mine! I hope you will give it a try and let me know what you think. Plus, you could actually save money by making this dish at home. You can tag me at @nourish_with_renata and #nourishwithrenata on Instagram! I would love to see what you make!
A super quick and easy Poke Bowl recipe for the budget-friendly foodie! Adapted from a recipe from Pop Sugar and a recipe from White on Rice Couple.
- 1 cucumber sliced thinly
- ½ cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 1 tbsp raw agave syrup
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil feel free to use less if you like a more mild flavor
- 1 tsp unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- 12 oz of sushi grade raw fish such as tuna or salmon.
- Pickled Ginger
- Sambal Oelek or a spicy chilli paste or powder
- Green onions sliced finely
- Cilantro chopped
- Or anything you like!
In a measuring cup or small bowl, mix together the rice wine vinegar, water and agave syrup till well combined.
In a medium sized mason jar, add the thinly sliced cucumbers and pour in the pickling liquid over top.
Close the jar and allow to pickle while you make the Poke Bowl, typically about 15 - 20 minutes.
Serve with the Poke Bowl.
In a medium bowl, add in the soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Whisk together thoroughly.
Cut the sushi grade fish into roughly 1” size cubes and add into the marinade.
Gently stir the fish into the marinade, ensuring all the fish is evenly coated.
Allow to sit in the marinade until the rest of your Poke Bowl is made.
In each serving bowl, add in some kale or rice of choice, then add in a few large spoonfuls of tuna, and the other topping ingredients you like. I chose to go with avocado, pickled ginger, green onions, cilantro, and spicy Indonesian hot sauce called Sambal Oelek, and Quick Pickled Cucumbers of course!
Keep any leftovers in the fridge for about 1 day, but this dish is best eaten the day that you make it.