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How to make the perfect poke bowl

Spicy Ahi poke bowl Picture: Stacy Zarin Goldberg, food styling by Bonnie Benwick

Spicy Ahi poke bowl Picture: Stacy Zarin Goldberg, food styling by Bonnie Benwick

Published Mar 25, 2019


The most popular style of poke is remarkably simple, just five ingredients: raw tuna, soy sauce, sesame oil, sweet onion and green onion. 

Because poke is so simple, it is easy to make at home. 

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Served over rice or other grains or greens, poke becomes a meal that feels simultaneously casual and luxe.

Here's how to start making your own poke bowl.

Think about your fish. Or not

While poke is most often made with raw, cubed tuna, it doesn't have to be, especially when you don't have easy access to sashimi-grade fish, or when you are looking for a less-expensive option. 

You can substitute cooked shrimp, firm tofu, cooked mushrooms (such as portobello and shiitake) and even cooked beets (their ruby colour makes for a great, fake tuna). 

If you have your heart set on raw fish, previously frozen salmon is a good, economical choice.

Add texture to each bite

The Hawaiian word poke (PO-kay) means "to slice," and that might be the thread that ties all poke together, because these days, you can find almost anything in it, it doesn't have to be raw and it doesn't require seafood. 

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Pretty much all poke is cut into bite-size pieces and the rest of the ingredients should be chopped and evenly distributed. 

Ingredients such as onions, sea asparagus and tobiko are other options, and sliced wood ear mushrooms have a consistency similar to limu. 

I love fish roe, such as masago and tobiko, for their pop and taste of the sea. 

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Chopped kimchi is also a great addition, adding for texture and flavour.

Spicy Ahi poke bowl

Picture: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

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Salt and season well

Aficionados tend to fall into two camps, some like their poke marinated for a few hours while others prefer it mixed and eaten right away. 

If you choose to marinate it, taste it before serving. 

You may need to re-season it with more salt.

Swap the grain

I find few pleasures as perfect as chilled poke on hot white rice. 

But there are plenty of other possible bases for a poke bowl like grains including quinoa and bulgur, which has a fluffy nuttiness that I find a perfect pairing for poke; soba noodles or tender lettuces/young greens. 

The three most common poke seasoning combinations in Hawaii are soy sauce with sesame oil, Hawaiian-style, with limu and inamona; and spicy mayo. 

Here's how you can make your own.


- 450g fresh tuna, preferably sashimi-grade, cut into cubes

- 1/2 cup thinly sliced green greens (crosswise; from 3 or 4 green onions)

- 1/4 cup mayonnaise

- 1/4 cup capelin fish roe (masago)

- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Sriracha

- 1 teaspoon soy sauce

- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more as needed


- Combine the tuna, green onions, mayo, fish roe, Sriracha, soy sauce and salt in a mixing bowl. Fold gently until thoroughly blended.

- The poke is ready to eat, but it can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. (If you plan to eat it later, taste for salt before serving.)

- Serve in bowls.

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