The first time I ever ate raw fish was when I was about ten or eleven years old. I was at a Japanese buffet, and my mother told me to eat only the expensive foods so we would get our money’s worth, which meant seafood and sashimi. Of course, I didn’t particularly enjoy raw fish, but being the dutiful daughter, I heeded her advice.
It wasn’t until I started eating poke bowls a few years ago that I warmed up to the idea of dishes with raw fish!
A poke bowl (pronounced po-kay!) is a Hawaiian dish of diced fresh fish served on top of rice with plenty of extra fixings like avocado, radishes, and cucumbers.
The fish is usually tuna, but salmon and other sashimi-quality fish can be used as well. The diced fish gets tossed with a simple dressing of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil, which makes a nice compliment to the whole bowl.
Make sure to buy only very high quality salmon since you’ll be eating it raw. In Japanese supermarkets, fish is labeled “sashimi” when it’s safe to eat raw. Otherwise, ask your fishmonger about the quality of the fish.
Once you have your fish, the rest of the poke bowl comes together really quickly. Just steam some rice, toss the fish with the dressing, and serve! I like to place all the extra toppings on the table so that everyone can help themselves.
If you are looking for a gluten-free poke bowl, use tamari instead of soy sauce. Tamari has a more intense flavor, so I would use only 3 tablespoons of tamari for the sauce. Also, because tamari has a much deeper color, the salmon pieces will not look as vibrant once they have been mixed with the dressing.
For the poke bowl:
- 1 cup short-grain white rice
- 1 pound sashimi-grade salmon
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
Other toppings for your bowl:
- Sliced cucumber
- Sliced radish
- 1 large avocado, cubed
- Red pepper flakes
1 Cook the rice: Start the rice first and prep the rest of the ingredients while it cooks. Rinse the rice a few times under cool water, rubbing it gently with your hands, until the water isn’t quite so cloudy. Then cook the rice according to package instructions or in a rice cooker. Fluff and keep covered until ready to eat.
2 Prepare the salmon: Gently pat the salmon all over to make sure that there are no bones still lodged in the filet; if there are, use needle-nosed pliers to remove them. Cut the salmon into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the salmon into a medium bowl and set aside.
3 Make the dressing: In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and garlic powder. The garlic powder and sugar will not dissolve completely, but that’s fine.
4 Combine the salmon and the dressing: Add the sliced scallions to the bowl with the salmon, saving 1 to 2 tablespoons for garnish. Add the soy sauce mixture to the salmon and scallions. Using a large spoon or a rubber spatula, gently mix the salmon with the soy sauce mixture.
5 Serve: Divide the rice between each bowl and then the salmon. Top with the rest of the sliced scallions, sliced cucumber, sliced radishes, diced avocado, furikake and red pepper flakes, if you like. The poke bowl is best enjoyed immediately.