9 Poke Bowls That Will Make You Forget About Sushi
Last Updated: Jun 21, 2016
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Move over, sushi -- there’s a new raw fish in town. What was once a niche seafood dish, poke bowls are now having their moment in the spotlight. So what is poke exactly? Traditionally, a poke bowl is raw fish -- usually ahi -- over white rice. The rice is often sweetened in a way similar to sushi rice, and the fish is typically flavored with soy sauce and topped with additions like green onions, chopped kukui nuts and/or sesame seeds. Sides like seaweed salad can be placed on top as well. Read on for nine delicious recipes that will make you forget all about sushi!
HOW TO MAKE A POKE BOWL
Your options are endless: You can use greens or grains as a base, all kinds of proteins and unique ingredients like cantaloupe. For people who don’t eat raw fish, you can also swap in (cooked) chicken or beef -- or, for vegans, usually tofu. Tofu contains phytates, which are antinutrients that leech protein from your system, so the vegan options in the following recipes are fresh vegetable-based. I use dash of orange blossom water, which adds tropical sweetness without the sugar. Macadamias take the place of kukui nuts, which aren’t easily found on the mainland. All of these poke bowls are gluten-free; some are Paleo, some are vegan and some are Paleo and vegan combined. (Note: I recommend wild fish whenever possible.)
SALMON AND STONE FRUIT POKE
Perfect for summertime, with its influx of assorted stone fruits (the category of fruit that has a large pit in the center), this poke bowl is less sweet than one made with mango, and using a less-than-juicy-ripe nectarine or peach is fine; the sour flavor will work nicely. Wild salmon is excellent for omega-3 fatty acids, so avoid the farmed version; it’s much lower in those. Two small pieces of stone fruit have more potassium than an entire banana, making peaches, nectarines or apricots all sound choices to take advantage of while in season. Serve over jasmine rice and greens.
Related: Full Recipe: Salmon and Stone Fruit Poke
VEGAN PALEO RAINBOW CARROT POKE
Iodine is an essential nutrient for thyroid function, but most people don’t get nearly enough of it. Eating kelp noodles, which are made from seaweed, is a simple way to increase your iodine intake. They have no flavor, just a slight crunch; many people prefer them a bit softer and soak them in hot water before using. Sea beans are available at Asian markets and health-food stores -- or, if you live near an ocean, you can forage for your own! While rainbow carrots make for a beautiful presentation and pack a healthful punch of anthocyanins (the antioxidant that gives the purple and red ones their color), plain orange carrots will work perfectly if rainbows are unavailable. (Note that sea beans are very salty, so there is no salt product called for in the noodle mix.) Serve over wasabi kelp noodles and sea beans.
Related: Full Recipe: Vegan Paleo Rainbow Carrot Poke
GINGER CHICKEN POKE
Black “forbidden” rice has come into popularity in recent times as the public has grown more enthusiastic about both heirloom varieties of foods and the incredible antioxidant properties that dark plant foods possess. Black rice looks similar to rice colored with squid ink, but it has no coloring; the dark purple is its natural color. It tastes similar to brown rice. Fresh ginger is soothing to the digestive system and lends a tropical flair to the chicken.
Related: Full Recipe: Ginger Chicken Poke
SPICY CRAB POKE
If fresh crab is out of your budget, choose a canned variety over artificial crab; that stuff is packed with crazy ingredients ranging from corn syrup to artificial flavors. Sunomono cucumbers cool the heat of chili paste so that the dish has spice but won’t knock you over with it. Quinoa has a better amino acid profile than other grains, making it an excellent option when you’re looking to switch up your rice routine. Oddly enough, it’s actually a seed, not a grain, but because it's high in carbohydrates it's typically treated as a grain. Soaking it before cooking will remove the bitter saponins that coat the outside of each kernel.
Related: Full Recipe: Spicy Crab Poke
PALEO MANGO HALIBUT POKE
Soft mango sweetness pairs perfectly with firm halibut while giving a warm-weather flavor that’s available year-round. Avocado lends richness so that you don’t notice the lack of carbs in this bowl, and coconut, with its medium-chain triglycerides, provides extra fat without being very fattening. While wild fish is usually healthier than farmed, there is a farmed variety of halibut called Gigha halibut that many believe to be equally healthful. Gigha halibut are also harvested humanely, which is outside the norm for both wild and farmed fishes. Serve with seaweed salad over spring mix greens.
Related: Full Recipe: Paleo Mango Halibut Poke
HOT-AND-SOUR SHRIMP POKE
Umeboshi plum vinegar, made from the brine used for Japanese pickled plums, has wonderful sour and salty characteristics. It’s higher in phenols than other vinegars and considered to be alkalizing and helpful for detoxing. Combined with lime juice’s high vitamin C content, the sour factor in this poke is mouth-watering and great for your metabolism. Bamboo rice is exactly what it sounds like: rice with bamboo extract added to it. The flavor is light and just slightly woody, with nutrients like vitamin B-6, phosphorous and zinc. Plain rice is a fine substitute, but if you’re feeling adventurous, the bamboo variety will be a talking point whenever you serve it! Serve with seaweed salad over bamboo green rice.
Related: Full Recipe: Hot-and-Sour Shrimp Poke
PALEO VEGAN TURMERIC JICAMA POKE
Fresh turmeric is readily available at mainstream grocery stores nowadays, and the taste is fairly mild, so if you don’t love the flavor it isn’t hard to cover up. Here, the spicy-tuna-style flavors do the trick, so you get all the anti-inflammatory benefits without much bitterness. It also adds color that helps emulate spicy-tuna sauce and brightens the jicama. Jicama is a crunchy yet juicy low-calorie root vegetable that has plenty of fiber as well as folates and pantothenic acid. Serve with sunomono over shredded kale.
Related: Full Recipe: Paleo Vegan Turmeric Jicama Poke
VEGAN MISO SWEET POTATO POKE
Miso, a fermented paste, can be made from soy, barley or chickpeas; the white version has the sweetest taste. Miso contains probiotics, which makes it a perfect match for sweet potatoes because they have prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food that probiotics eat, which are necessary to consume to ensure that your gut flora thrives. Purple sweet potatoes are fun in color, but if they’re not available near you, you can swap in white or garnet sweet potatoes. Serve with sunomono over turmeric-ginger rice.
Related: Full Recipe: Vegan Miso Sweet Potato Poke
CHILI-GARLIC STEAK AND MACADAMIA POKE
Poke is usually a lovely light dish, but it only seemed fair to satisfy all tastes with healthy poke options -- hence this hearty and filling steak poke with whole macadamia nuts over rice. By using fresh chilis, garlic and shallots in both raw and cooked forms you get all the health benefits available from them. Thankfully, you only need to do one round of chopping! If the flavors are too strong, cook the entire quantity with the steak. If not, the raw spices give the dish a ton of flavor that’s not to be missed. Serve over jasmine rice.
Related: Full Recipe: Chili-Garlic Steak and Macadamia Poke
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you tried poke? Do you like it better than sushi? Have your own poke bowl recipe that you want to share? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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