Healthy Meals: How to Make a Deliciously Fresh Poke Bowl
From their humble Hawaiian origins, poke bowls have taken the world by storm, appearing everywhere from local corner cafes, to dedicated poke bowl restaurants, to the finest dining establishments in the world.
The dish is pronounced poh-kay, and consists of a raw fish salad that is typically served as an entree in Hawaiian cuisine. ‘Poke’ is the Hawaiian verb meaning ‘to slice’ or ‘to cut’, so it often consists of thinly cut pieces of salmon, tuna, calamari, or chicken. Poke is typically seasoned with soy sauce, scallions and sesame oil, with the ingredients laying on a base of white rice and cabbage. It might also include a variety of other seasonings like wasabi, seaweed and chili pepper. It’s super versatile, and the kind of dish that you can really let you imagination run wild with!
We’re big fans of poke bowls at Marketplace Gungahlin, so we’ve put together a guide on how you can assemble a variety of delicious poke bowl dishes yourself at home.
Are poke bowls good for you?
Poke bowls are popular with everyone, from experienced foodies all the way to the less adventurous culinary taste-testers.
For one, they’re super healthy, being naturally low in calories. You can often get away with consuming a 300 gram poke bowl for just under 300 calories, only 10 grams of fat, and around 48 grams of protein (a major benefit from all that lean fish that’s included). It’s even healthier if you opt to have your poke without rice, so it can be jam-packed full of nutritionally dense vegetables and marinades. Poke also delivers heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids which help to protect your heart and lower your blood pressure.
Poke bowls are also often less pricey than an expensive venture out to a fancy sushi restaurant - especially if you make them at home yourself! If you do opt to eat out however, poke bowls often won’t set you back more than $15, and will leave you feeling satisfied and full for hours.
They’re also super speedy to prepare, including just a little bit of fresh cut fish, greens assembling, a quick mix of your sauce and voila - done! Poke is fantastic for experimenting with different spices, flavours, marinades and sauces. So read on and get inspired!
What ingredients do I need to make poke bowls?
The great thing about poke bowls is that they’re so customisable. You can make one to suit each and every taste, and if you’re having to cater for a large group of people with a variety of different requirements, you could even set up a ‘build your own poke station’ and have everyone build their own!
In terms of whether or not poke bowls are to be considered ‘healthy’, once again it’s all in the ingredients that you pick for yourself. To pack it full of nutrients, have your poke bowl on a base of cabbage rather than rice, or choose brown rice over white rice, as it has much more fibre and will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
When choosing sauces, keep in mind that a small amount of soy sauce can majorly bump up the sodium content of your meal, with one tablespoon of soy containing a third of the upper recommendation for daily salt intake. Roasted sesame is also a popular sauce from takeaway restaurants, but keep in mind that it increases the calorie content of your meal, if this is something that concerns you. If you’re wanting to keep everything uber-healthy, opt for a lemon and extra virgin olive oil dressing (an excellent choice packing lots of flavour and nutrients).
There are so many delicious different flavours and combinations that you can create with poke bowls, but here are the main ingredients that we’d recommend you pick up at the shops to make sure you have everything:
Protein - Either fresh, sushi-grade fatty fish (like yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna or salmon), shredded chicken, or tofu.
Rice - You can choose either white or brown rice, seasoned with rice vinegar and maybe topped with shredded nori flakes.
Marinade for the protein - You could use soy sauce, sesame oil, teriyaki sauce, ginger, garlic or chilli oil for a bit of a kick.
Garnishes - Here’s where you pick all the veggies and toppings you like, ranging from avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, spring onions, carrots and seaweed to sesame seeds, fried onion, radishes, edamame beans or even mango.
Six easy steps for making a poke bowl
For the basic assembly of your poke bowl, we recommend doing it like this.
- Marinate your protein three to four hours before eating time.
- Lay out your base in your bowl, like your rice, cabbage, or a combination of both.
- Add your protein, like your fish or chicken.
- Add your veggies, like your cucumber, cherry tomatoes, spring onions and carrots.
- Create your sauce in a separate bowl and then drizzle over the dish.
- Sprinkle the whole dish with your smaller garnishes (like sesame seeds or fried onion).
Hawaiian and Japanese inspiration for your next family dinner
So, the next time you have a hankering for something delicious, fresh and exotic that doesn’t put too much strain on the waistline, why not have a go at creating your very own poke bowls right at home. Marketplace Gungahlin’s extensive range of fresh food and grocery shops have everything you need to get the ingredients (and creativity) flowing for your next poke bowl meal.