Prep Time 10'PT10M
Total Time 15'PT15M
Riding on the back of the sushi revolution came poke (pronounced ‘poh-kay’), a light, delicious dish whose popularity has grown exponentially over the last few years. Our vegan poke bowl makes a quick, tasty midweek meal with only a bit of chopping and assembly required.
Poke for beginners
If you are a frequent visitor to foodie hubs such as London and Los Angeles, you will be very familiar with poke bowls.
Only a few years ago, poke was relatively unknown. However, demand for delicious, fresh and healthy food (and our insatiable demand for variety) has catapulted poke to its current levels of popularity.
Poke originated in Hawaii, and in its simplest form it’s a dish made up of rice and raw fish. In that sense, it is a bit like sushi, and indeed a lot of the condiments you often see served with poke have a heavy Japanese influence. Think soy and ponzu sauces, or yuzu.
The basic elements
The word ‘poke’ simply means ‘to cut up into pieces’, and refers to the fish element, while ‘poke bowl’ refers to the entire dish. In any case, poke bowls usually feature ingredients cut into dice or thin slices.
The legend goes that Hawaiian reef fishermen would catch fresh fish, slice it and eat it simply, scattered with a little sea salt, fresh from the ocean and perhaps with a side of seaweed and crushed kukui nuts. In a traditional poke bowl, the freshness of the fish is absolutely paramount.
However, there’s plenty more going on in poke than just the fish. Hence why it’s still a fabulous option if you don’t eat fish or seafood.
There’s a rainbow of bright, fresh and crispy veg, combined with zesty dressings, the satisfying bite of soba noodles and an almost endless variety of tasty sauces to drizzle over. With or without fish, it’s a mouthwateringly easy midweek dinner.
Our vegan poke bowl
Much like Vietnamese, Thai or Japanese food, poke gets its flavours from sharp, tangy and fresh tasting ingredients. As a result, it feels wonderfully light and refreshing to eat.
You could easily make this recipe with brown rice in place of soba noodles, if you wish, for a more traditional bowl. However, we love the additional step of dressing the noodles to add another layer of flavour.
Here, we use the classic combination of lime, sesame and honey, alongside umeboshi vinegar. This slightly unusual ingredient is actually the brine left over from making Japanese umeboshi plums, pickled fruits which are popular in Japanese cuisine.
It’s well worth making a trip to a Japanese supermarket to pick some up if you can, but if you can’t get hold of any, red wine vinegar makes a decent substitute. Umeboshi has a slight inherent saltiness to it, though, so if using red wine vinegar, be sure to taste and adjust the seasoning.
Mix it up
One of the best things about poke is how easy it is to adapt it for different tastes and moods.
While the base components remain the same, traditional poke bowls range quite a bit in terms of flavour and texture. For example, you could try a ‘shoyu poke’, made with soy sauce and spring onions, or a spicier version made with sriracha mayo.
However as poke has made its way around the world it has acquired a whole new range of variations including wasabi poke, shiso poke and versions topped with everything from jalapeño chilli to mango. By now, poke is a truly international dish.
Thus, feel free to work with what you have and swap out the veggies we've suggested here for those you have on hand.
The key, though, is always to preserve that freshness of flavour. Choose bright, crunchy vegetables which are a joy to eat raw. Fresh herbs, like the mint we’ve used here, add a heady top note of freshness; coriander would work brilliantly as well.
If you have the time and inclination, you could also try marinating your tofu beforehand, as Hawaiians often do with their fresh fish.
Erbology Wasabi Crackers
You can also add a touch of extra flavour by pairing this dish with our Erbology Japanese Wasabi Crackers.
They offer the clean heat of Japanese horseradish, which pairs so well with fresh vegetables and the flavours of soy and sesame.
However they’re also a great addition to your meal in terms of nutrition. They’re made with a base of sunflower seeds and linseeds, making them naturally prebiotic and a source of iron, magnesium and B vitamins.
Their crisp, crumbly texture also adds a bit of added crunch alongside your bowl.
Friday rainbow bowls
We love putting this meal together on a Friday evening after a long week at work. There’s something so mindful and relaxing about chopping the bright veg into perfect cubes and bringing it all together in a healthy, delicious rainbow bowl.
It’s food to feel good about making and even better about eating!
Serve with a refreshing kombucha, or an ice-cold Japanese beer for added Friday vibes.Mains