Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl
Updated Jun 22, 2022
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Poke bowl is one of my favorite meals to grab at a restaurant, but it’s so easy to make at home!
This ahi poke bowl recipe is made with ahi tuna, a tamari soy sauce marinade and sushi rice. Then it’s topped with cucumber, avocado, microgreens and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It’s delicious, flavorful, healthy and entirely gluten-free.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to have traveled all of the Hawaiian islands. It’s one of those perks of living so close in Southern California. And I’ve had poke bowls every which way, with a variety of different fish, toppings and sauces.
But in recent years poke bowl popularity has surged like crazy on the mainland with what seems like a hundred different ways to customize a poke bowl. From quinoa to zucchini noodles and everything in between. And we’ll talk about some of those variations in a sec, especially when it comes to dietary preferences.
But let’s talk about why poke is so great….and why you need to be making the poke bowl recipe at home.
What’s in a poke bowl?
Traditional poke bowls are actually quite simple – just high quality fish cubed up, a little sauce or marinade, green onions and some sushi rice. That’s it.
You could think of it as a raw fish salad or deconstructed sushi roll. I like the deconstructed sushi roll analogy, because whatever you’d typically find all wrapped up in a roll, you can simply add to a bowl instead and easily create a poke bowl.
Because poke bowls aren’t fussy or fancy and because fresh seafood is in abundance in Hawaii, you can even find poke bowls in supermarkets and served in street-side stalls.
How do you pronounce poke?
Poke is Hawaiian for “to slice or cut” (which perfectly describes the cubed fish) and is pronounced poh-KAY (rhyming with “okay”). It’s not pronounced poh-KEE or just poke, as if you’d poke someone.
Are poke bowls gluten-free?
Sadly, most poke bowls served in restaurants or pre-made in a supermarket are not gluten-free. And there’s two places that gluten finds it’s way into poke bowls – the marinade and the rice.
- The Marinade: Soy sauce is the traditional marinade for the fish and contains gluten. Ponzu sauce may also be used and because soy sauce is an ingredient in ponzu sauce, that means it’s also not gluten-free.
- The Rice: When it comes to the rice, Japanese rice vinegar or malt vinegar are often added to the rice for extra flavor (just as they are in sushi). Unfortunately, these vinegars and seasonings may also contain gluten.
So when in doubt, ask many questions and confirm exactly what was used in the marinades and sauces and how the rice was cooked and seasoned.
How to make this ahi poke bowl
You can use a variety of seafood in poke bowls, but my favorite is always ahi tuna. And you’ll want to start with sushi-grade ahi. It should look vibrant, fresh and be a watermelon red color. To make the poke bowl:
- Cook the sushi rice according to the directions. It’s usually 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups of water and takes about 20 minutes on the stove.
- While the rice is cooking cube up ahi tuna into bite-sized pieces and make the marinade. I’m using tamari (a gluten-free soy sauce) but you could also use coconut aminos (a soy-free soy sauce alternative). I’ve chatted about the differences between tamari, soy sauce and coconut aminos before.
- Gently toss the ahi in the marinade until all of the pieces are fully coated, then chop up a green onion, add that to the ahi and give it a stir. Thinly slice a cucumber and dice an avocado and set that to the side, but don’t do this too early as you don’t want the avocado to brown.
- To assemble the poke bowl, add a few spoonfuls of rice to a bowl and top that with a few spoonfuls of ahi. Add several slices of cucumber and a sprinkle of the diced avocado on top.
- For garnish, add a sprinkle of microgreens and both white and black sesame seeds. And there you have it – a gluten-free, healthy and extremely delicious poke bowl!
Can you make this poke bowl vegan, paleo, keto or Whole30?
Absolutely! Definitely feel free to tweak this recipe to your dietary preference. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- Vegan Poke Bowl: you can replace the fish with tofu or even chunks of watermelon for that vibrant red color.
- Paleo, Keto or Whole30 Poke Bowl: you can replace the sushi rice with zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice and replace the tamari with coconut aminos.
For more delicious healthy seafood recipes
- Scallops with Citrus Ginger Sauce
- Vietnamese Spring Rolls
- Citrus Shrimp Ceviche
- Zucchini Pasta with Lemon Garlic Shrimp
- Dijon Baked Salmon
Watch the Video of my Poke Bowl Recipe
Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl
- Add the sushi rice to a fine mesh colander and rinse until the water becomes clear. Place the sushi rice in a small pot and add the water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook the rice for 20 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, cube up the ahi tuna into bite-sized pieces.
- In a small bowl, stir together the tamari, sesame oil and rice vinegar. Then add the ahi tuna and gently stir until all of the pieces are coated. Add the green onion and stir again.
- When the rice is fully cooked, add a few spoonfuls of rice to a bowl. Top that with a few spoonfuls of ahi tuna, several slices of cucumber and a some diced avocado. Garnish with microgreens and a sprinkle of white and black sesame seeds.
- Make sure you're purchasing a high-quality, sushi-grade ahi tuna as you're eating it raw. Fresh is best, but using previously frozen ahi is fine as well. And always ask your fish monger if you have questions.
- I always use this organic sushi rice. And this is the brand of gluten-free tamari soy sauce I use.
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Recipe originally posted June 2018, but updated to include new information.