Poke Bowls: The Origin Story and 6 Authentic Recipes to Make Now

If you haven’t heard of poke bowls by now then you either don’t have Instagram or you don’t live in a major US city. Either way, it is high time that you introduce yourself  to this little bowl of health that has taken the American mainland by storm.

If you’d like, think of poke bowls like deconstructed sushi. And just like sushi, this “new” trend is actually an old traditional dish that dates back centuries. In Hawaii where they originated, you can find these bowls everywhere from restaurants to supermarkets, and for good reason: They’re delicious, simple, and healthy.

The Everyday Food of Hawaii

Poke means “to cut.” This aggressive verb, however, describes a delicate dish of raw fish (think: ahi tuna, salmon or shellfish) that are marinated and served cold over rice. The rice and fish are then seasoned with sauces like soy sauce, limu (seaweed), creamy and spicy mayo, and salty furikake.

In Hawaii, different variations of this dish are not difficult to come by. Take a trip to virtually any grocery store in the Aloha State and you’ll be greeted by a vast selection of the famous raw, cubed fish.

There is always room for more #poke ? #pokebowl

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Take a look through the butcher’s glass and you’ll see hi limu (yellowfin tuna with algae), spicy garlic salmon, tofu with soy sauce, sesame and green onion, kimchee tako (octopus) for sale, and all prepared to top your poke bowls.

Because in Hawaii, poke bowls are simple. 

Making Poke Bowls on the Mainland

POKE BOWL – Spicy Ahi, Avocado Aioli Ahi, Kimchi, furikake rice ???? #hawaii #bigisland #furikake

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Once they came to the mainland, however, poke bowls took on a whole new meaning gaining a variety of ingredients and losing those of their origin. Although there is nothing wrong with a little innovation, you’re missing out if you haven’t tried the real deal.

So, to make sure that you are able to try the unadulterated original, here are 6 authentic recipes rounded up from around the internet. Just remember though, if you’re going to make your own, buy the freshest fish available. The quality of your finished bowl will rely heavily on the freshness of the fish you use. 

1. Hawaiian Ahi Poke Recipe

hawaiian poke bowl
A Spicy Perspective

Simply, freshly dressed, and portioned to perfection. You really don’t need to say more about this.

Get the recipe here.

2. Spicy Ahi Poke + Avocado “Parfaitinis”

poke bowl ahi
Two Red Bowls

Should you need the perfect packed lunch to add to your weekly rotation, this is it.

Get the recipe here.

3. Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl

Ahi tuna poke
A Thought For Food

Add some vegetable to your diet and some color to your bowl with this poke bowl. These vegetables are traditional accompaniments to raw fish and rice and you should definitely take a bite of the combination and find out why.

Get the recipe here.

4. California Poke Bowl

Use Real Butter

Crab legs, avocado, tuna, green onion. This sounds vaguely like a deconstructed California roll.

Get the recipe here.

5. Salmon Poke Bowl

Lady & Pups

If you’re worried about using tuna because of overfishing or mercury levels, don’t. Salmon sashimi is just as good, if not better, than its tuna cousin. Try it in a poke bowl and see for yourself.

Get the recipe here.

6. Spicy Tofu Poke Bowls

Margaritas in the Rain

Poke bowls don’t have to be only a raw fish salad. They can also have tofu, which is delicious, nutritious, and vegetarian for those #meatlessmondays.

Get the recipe here.