Spring’s Go-to Family Lunch

Poke (pronounced ‘poh-keh’) bowls started to emerge around the 1970s when Hawaiian fishermen would use the simple recipe to create hearty snacks. Although gaining social media traction recently, the bowls have been around for a while. And they’re incredibly easy to make.

In Hawaiian, the word ‘poke’ means ‘to cut’, representing the cube shapes of the meat in a poke bowl. At its most basic level, a poke bowl is made up of a base, typically rice; the protein, often cubed raw sushi-grade salmon or tuna, and the sauce, Asian toppings like soy sauce and seaweed.

While raw salmon or tuna are the standard proteins, you can sub in other options like cooked chicken, crab, or tofu, if you’re not feeling like fish or are vegan.

1. The base

Start by choosing a base for your perfectly shaped Poke bowl. Traditionally this is a layer of rice, however, you may choose soba noodles or leafy greens if you prefer. Japanese sushi rice is the best option for rice in terms of quality, however, you may look for coconut jasmine rice or a brown rice substitute.

2. The protein

Next comes the meat, which should be cut lengthwise working against the grain into 2cm strips. Then cut across the strips into 2cm cubes. Usually, the meat will be ahi tuna, salmon or prawn; cooked chicken or for vegetarian poke bowls, tofu is the most popular choice.

3. The sauce

If you’re using a fattier /firmer fish, the dressing can be packed full of rich flavour. For more delicate fish, try for a lighter dressing. Ponzu, shoyu (soy sauce), gochujang and spicy black bean paste, all work well as a starting base to which you can add your own unique flavour combinations.

4. The rest

Create a good blend of texture and depth by adding a few extra ingredients to the bowl. This can be anything from fresh fruits and vegetables like avocado, shiitake mushrooms, radish and bean sprouts, nuts, seeds or spices.

Salmon Poke Bowl

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 460g fresh salmon, diced into 2cm cubes
  • 1 tablespoon salt-reduced soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons shelled edamame beans
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, peeled into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • Black sesame seeds to serve


  1. Place 2.5 cups water in a medium pot, cover and bring to the boil. Add 1 cup rice, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until rice is cooked, about 35-40 minutes. Drain rice. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl combine salmon, salt-reduced soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Stir well to combine. Marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  3. Divide rice, edamame beans, cucumber, radishes, avocado, carrots, spinach and salmon between 4 bowls. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Tip: Shredded cooked chicken breast, tuna or tofu can be substituted for salmon. Quinoa can be substituted for brown rice.

35 – 40 minutes (preparation time 10 – 15 minutes plus 30 minutes marinating)

Image & Recipe: Heart Foundation

For more inspiration search for ‘Poke Bowl’ on Pinterest