How to make a poke bowl

Yep, I’m still on my flexitarian soapbox and yes, this is another one of those posts. But hear me out for a second. Today is National Shrimp Day. Why? God only knows, but it is all the same and so, here we are with this lovely poké bowl staring us in the face …

Poké (pronounced “pok-eh” not “poke” like the ridiculous Facebook option) is a traditional Polynesian dish combining raw fish with seaweed and other ingredients like the kukui nut. And I, although I have had the good fortune to visit the Hawaiian Islands many times over the years, until recently had never tried poké. Oh sure, I’ve eaten my fair share of sashimi over the years and had plenty of Hawaiian delights, but never a poké bowl.

Heck, I’ve even had poi—an odd-looking paste made from the fermented root of taro—but again, never poke. That is until last year.

Admittedly, I’d been wanting to try it for a long time. It’s one of those healthy-eating fads that popped up in big metropolitan areas, think NYC and San Fran, a few years ago but is now making a big splash (pun intended) in the rest of the country. And so, I had my first bowl last year and … insert drum roll … I didn’t really like it. I’ve never been a fan of raw fish and I prefer my bowls vegan style like the one shown here. Although, I’m a flexitarian and do allow a little seafood into my diet, I’m not going to eat it raw and I only eat seafood occasionally and ONLY when I know the source. 

Good news though, while poké is traditionally a raw fish salad, lots of places do offer other options for the not-so-adventurous … so yes, you should try one yourself—with or without raw fish, with or without any seafood at all. And if you want to make one at home, below I give you a step-by-step guide to making it exactly the way you like it. 

As for the shrimp, I’m not a big fan of shrimp. Be it tiny bay shrimp, medium sized prawns, or giant ones at that. I just don’t really like them. But not for the reasons one might think … true, I know a lot (like a LOT) about the varieties, the origins, the farming and boating practices that go into harvesting shrimp (here in the U.S. and abroad) and for me, it seems the more I know about certain foods, the less likely I am to consume them—because, sadly, a lot of what I learn is rarely good. But, like I said, the reason I don’t eat shrimp has nothing to do with where they may or may not come from—nor that grotesque black vein that not everyone removes before consuming. Blek!

The reason I don’t eat shrimp is like this … far, far, far too many companies have personified the little dudes to the point where it makes me kinda ill. I mean who can eat something that smiles at them and wants to have a full-blown conversation? 

BUT. If you’re going to eat shrimp, I’m cool with it. Just do so responsibly and pay attention to the recommendations from the folks over at Seafood Watch. AND look for look for shrimp that’s eco-certified by the Marine Stewardship Council … and then, if you want to add them to your poke bowl, you go right ahead ; )

HOW TO MAKE A POKÉ BOWL

  1. Choose your base … white rice, brown rice, spring mix or even kale.
  2. Pick your protein … there are lots of options: raw tuna, raw salmon, cooked shrimp, spam, tofu, tempeh. (Yes, you could do beef, poultry or pork, but why??)
  3. Add your veggies …. carrots, cucumber, corn, peppers, onion, etc.
  4. Add your sauce … miso, spicy aioli, sweet unagi, sriracha, etc.
  5. Toppings … now you make it your own by adding any combination of the following: avocado, spicy crab, seaweed salad, edamame, tamago, shiitake, kimchi, peppers, jalapeno, ginger, mango, purple cabbage, onions, wasabi, or just about anything else 🙂

And that’s all there is to it. Enjoy!

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