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What is a poke bowl? Everything you need to know about it

What is a poke bowl? Everything you need to know about it

What is a poke bowl?

What does the poke bowl consist of?

If you have been asking these questions, you have come to the right place!

The poke bowl is all the rage these days. If you’re looking for a unique and flavorful bowl of different food items layered on top of one another, then a poke bowl truly fits the bill. 

This dish is full of various flavors that perfectly balance each other. 

To know more about a poke bowl, keep reading!

So, what are poke bowls? Poke is a Hawaiian national dish that was invented by fishermen, who’d season the cut-offs of their daily catch while sitting on their boats and eat them. 

A poke bowl (pronounced as a poke-ay bowl) gets its intriguing name from the food prep since poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian. 

Poke bowls are a food staple in their native Pacific Island and you can find them in most convenience stores, where they’re freshly prepared. 

A poke bowl is a food bowl that has a mix of food items thrown in together. It has raw marinated fish, usually Yellowfin tuna or ahi, that’s cubed and layered with a generous serving of sticky rice and pickles. 

The other ingredients in a poke bowl include veggies, seasonings, sauces, and dressing. It’s so much more than a simple sashimi or ceviche dish that’s thrown into a bowl. 

For instance, in the US, trendy veggie alternatives of poke bowls use cauliflower rice and zoodles as base layers. 

Are Poke Bowls Hot or Cold?

The interesting bit about poke bowls is that they are a mix of hot and cold, raw and cooked ingredients thrown in together to make a delicious food bowl. The fish used in poke bowls is usually cold, while the rice bed is made of warm rice. 

What Goes in a Poke Bowl?

Now that I’ve answered your question, “What is a poke bowl,” let’s take a look at the ingredients that make up a poke bowl:


Most poke bowls have a base layer of sticky jasmine rice. The warm rice goes perfectly with the cold fish. However, if you don’t want to add rice into your poke bowl, then you can opt for kelp salad or zucchini noodles. 

Learn how to cook rice perfectly


A sushi-grade fish, such as the raw ahi or yellowfin tuna that’s cut into cubes, is the star ingredient in a poke bowl.

However, you can experiment and use other fish as well such as snapper or salmon. If you’re not a fan of raw fish, then you can add cooked crab to your dish.

Alternatively, for a vegan option, you can use tofu instead of fish in your poke bowl. 

Learn how to clean and break down a whole fish.


The cubes of the fish in a poke bowl are mixed with sesame seeds, scallions, and flakes of pink sea salt, all of which enhance the flavor of the fish.


Popular veggies that are added to poke bowl include seaweed, avocado, crispy garlic, and shaved onions, all of which add a unique flavor and crunch to the dish.

The avocado adds some nice creaminess to the dish, while the seaweed adds a delectable crunch that takes the poke bowl to the next level.


The flavor profile of the poke bowl is enhanced with salty sauces such as ponzu, soy sauce, and shoyu, which is a mixture of sesame oil, soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, and some freshly squeezed lemon juice. 

Another incredibly flavorful dressing for the fish is black bean paste. Some hot sauce is sprinkled on top of the fish to add some much-needed heat to the dish.

Wasabi and Japanese red chili mixture are popular options. 

Can Poke Bowls Be Vegan?

Yes, poke bowls can certainly be vegan. You can simply replace the ahi with tofu for a vegan poke bowl. To add some flavor to the tofu, marinate it in a flavorful sauce. The other ingredients in the poke bowl can remain the same.

Click here to learn how to make a vegan poke bowl with tofu!

How to Make a Poke Bowl?

The trick to making a poke bowl is to layer the ingredients on top of one another. Start with the sticky rice base and then add the seasoned fish on top. Sprinkle the sauces and add the veggies.

Fill in the spaces with some more rice and fish cubes and then add some more sauces. Top with the hot sauce of your choice and dig in! 

The Bottom Line

I hope you enjoyed reading this guide on “what is a poke bowl?”. A poke bowl is a Hawaiian food bowl that’s made with sticky rice, ahi cubes, veggies, and some signature dressings and sauces.

It’s a mix of hot and cold ingredients and has many variations. You can also make a vegan poke bowl with some tofu instead of ahi.  

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and make your own poke bowl!