This colorful poke bowl is made from fresh salmon, crunchy veggies, and quick pickled cucumbers. It’s bursting with bold flavors and the best part? It can be made right inside your kitchen!
Poke bowls are made from chunks of raw, marinated fish with an array of toppings over rice or greens. They started in Hawaii and are heavily influenced by Japanese and other Asian flavors. Although they may seem fancy, they’re actually super easy to make at home. You will just need to find a reliable source that sells sushi- or sashimi-grade fish since it is raw.
One of the first places my brother took me before I moved to California was the Santa Monica Seafood market. Coming from the Midwest, I had never seen so much seafood in my life—and so fresh! We made salmon filets with brown sugar and goat cheese in foil packets on his grill—the only kitchen he had at the time.
I envisioned moving to Cali and grabbing fresh seafood from the market ALL the time. You know, taking advantage of how fortunate I would be to live next to the Pacific. But here I am with five years under my belt and have only been there maybe once a year?
Sometimes, I find the more accessible something is, the more we take it for granted—food and otherwise. We take comfort in its abundance and grow used to its presence. We figure it will always be there, so we don’t feel a sense of urgency to take advantage of it. There will always be tomorrow or next week or some other time to go to that market, to swim in the ocean, or to see that performance. I am definitely guilty of this, especially since moving to the West Coast. But it’s never too late.
I’ve been to (and swam in) the ocean more times this year than I ever have and it’s really reminded me how fortunate I am to live here and have access to the things I do. Like an abundance of fresh seafood at my fingertips.
However, I realize not everyone lives by an ocean. So if you don’t have access to a fresh seafood market, call your local grocery store or Whole Foods and ask if they have sushi- or sashimi-grade fish for poke. Some stores even sell pre-packaged poke cubes in the freezer aisle! You can find other specialty items like seaweed salad, pickled ginger, and fresh wasabi from the sushi counter at the grocery store, as well.
Being heavily influenced by Japanese flavors like soy sauce, sesame, and seaweed, poke bowls almost remind me of a deconstructed sushi roll. They’re great for groups or family gatherings because they are quick, easy, and the combinations are endless.
Sometimes I like it sweet and spicy with fresh mango and jalapeño. Sometimes I want a lighter version, so I substitute the rice for greens or quinoa. And sometimes I want a vinegary bite, so I’ll pickle some cucumbers, like I did for this one.
Get creative—there’s no wrong way to poke!
Salmon poke bowl + spicy pickled cucumbers
- 1/2 lb sashimi grade salmon
- 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sriracha
Spicy pickled cucumbers
- 2 persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 tsp dried red chili flakes
- 1 tsp salt
Bowl suggestions (choose what you like)
- brown or white rice
- edamame beans
- avocado, sliced
- shredded purple cabbage
- shredded carrots
- mango, sliced
- jalapeño, sliced
- green onions, chopped
- seaweed salad
- pickled ginger
- sesame seeds
Start by making your pickled cucumbers. This can be done the day ahead, if necessary. Thinly slice cucumbers and set aside. Combine all pickling ingredients except cucumbers in a saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove from heat, toss in cucumbers, and stir. Let rest for 10 mins, then transfer to a covered container to store in fridge until ready to eat.
Cut salmon into 1/2 inch cubes with a super sharp knife and toss in a bowl with all other ingredients for the marinade. Cover and store in fridge while you prep toppings for the bowl.
Prep toppings of your choice, then start building your bowl with a base of rice, quinoa, or greens (I used white rice). Add marinated poke and your toppings of choice.
Flavor tip: I kept a little marinade separate from the fish, so I could pour some over my bowl. It soaks into the rice and adds so much flavor!
For more light dishes check out my Turmeric tofu rainbow wraps or Grilled fruit and swordfish with herb vinaigrette!