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How to successfully make vegan Poke Bowls – 3 delicious vegan Poke Bowl Recipes included

This blog post also is available in German.

vegan poke bowls

Everybody knows them, these small little bowls filled with delicious rice, fresh vegetables and raw fish. Wait stop! Did you just read raw fish? Yes you did and that`s kind of the problem with poke bowls. Vegans and vegetarians can`t eat them, they`re just not on the list. But attention guys! You might know for a fact that everything can be veganized, same goes for poke bowls. But before you start right into making your own crazy poke bowl creations, let me explain to you what they are and what kind of ingredients you`ll need.

What`s a poke bowl?

Poke is Hawaiian and means “small cut pieces”. As the origin of the name already suggests poke is a Hawaiian dish, more precisely a fish salad. Japanese and American West Side Cuisine fusioned together and poke bowls were born. In Hawaii they are actually even considered a national dish. The main ingredient obviously is raw fish, similar to sushi. Other mainly common ingredients are soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, lime, avocado, sesame seeds and scallions. Usually everything gets served in a small bowl accompanied by sushi rice or algae salad.

Of course these are just the basics, there`s always room for more ingredients and lot`s of creativity. Maybe you feel like adding or swapping ingredients, just go with your guts using what you love. But to get you an overview and a slight idea how a vegan poke bowl could look like, I`m sharing 3 different recipes with you today. All of them are completely vegan and even more delicious!

What do you need for a poke bowl?

Poke bowls are basically made out of five different elements, which you should keep in mind when choosing your ingredients. Want to know how your poke bowls will be a success, then keep on reading, as I`m going to line out in detail the five elements mentioned above. Always remember to change things up by adding, removing or swiping components.

quinoa fried tofu vegan poke bowl

1. Base

Similar to buddha bowls poke bowls need a base too, where you can serve the “fish” on top of it. Mostly it`s an ingredient based on grains, respectively rich in carbohydrates. But if you`re aiming for a lighter meal go with salad. Perfectly suitable as a base are:

  • sushi rice
  • brown rice / black rice
  • wild rice
  • basmati rice / perfume rice
  • quinoa
  • udon noodles
  • soba noodles
  • low carb pasta
  • veggie noodles (zoodles)
  • cauliflower rice
  • mache
  • arugula
  • kale
  • spinach
  • wakame or any other algae salad

vegan tuna poke bowl

2. Protein source

As already stated above fish is not a thing for vegans, but there are plenty other protein rich options out there to use instead. Maybe tofu or tempeh (consider the list below)? Or if you want that authentic fish feeling try carrot lox  or experiment with other vegetables/fruits and liquid smoke. Nori leaves also work great to get that touch of fish into your poke bowl. By the way I`m stoked by this amazing recipe from eatthisorg using watermelon as a tuna substitute. I`ll definitely try this as soon as watermelon is in season. I used beetroot instead of tuna in one of today`s recipes. Here are some protein rich vegan options:

  • smoked tofu
  • firm tofu
  • tempeh
  • edamame
  • chickpeas
  • soy beans
  • lentils
  • any other beans

As already mentioned some vegetables and fruits work great as fish substitute if combined with liquid smoke. The authentic vibe depends on the color of the vegetable / fruit as well. Some good options are carrots, watermelon or beetroot.

vegan poke bowl with fried tempeh and banans

3. Marinade/Dressing

The main reason your poke bowl is raising from medium to exquisite quality is the marinade or dressing. Depending on which ingredient you choose under point 2 you might want to go for a marinade (for example with tofu) or a dressing (maybe with tempeh). Note that marinades / dressings are not a must, but they make life more fun. I didn`t use any for the third recipe as I felt like the wakame salad was already strong enough on it`s own. Common ingredients for poke bowl marinades or dressings are soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and sesame seeds. But again feel free to experiment what works for you. Maybe a teriyaki marinade ? Or a miso dressing? In terms of marinades the results always are the best the longer you marinate. On contrary dressings should not be drizzled on the bowl right before serving.

4. Garnish

Life would be pretty boring without some garnish right? Same goes for poke bowls. Now is the moment to go crazy. You like it exotic, then try out some pineapple or mango. A lot of fun are different garnishes coming in all the colors of the rainbow. There are no borders, you can mix together everything you like, sweet, salty, spicy and umami. For example the third recipe is a mix of sweet bananas and salty ingredients.

5. Toppings

The final touch of your poke bowls are the toppings. Perfect choices are roasted dark sesame seeds, scallions cut into rings, lime wedges, cilantro or any other fresh herbs.

From my side you`ll get a little bit of everything today. Soy sauce marinated, crispy fried tofu served with quinoa and oven roasted sweet potatoes. For those ones of you who don`t eat white rice or watch the carbs. The second poke bowl is a classic with sushi rice, black sesame seeds, avocado, vegan tuna (aka beetroot) and cilantro. And if you like sweet and salty together bowl number three might be your cup of tea. It`s fried crispy tempeh and fried banana served on algae salad. That`s pretty much it for today. Have fun experimenting and trying out these recipes.

Read you soon

Sarah

Crispy Fried Tofu Quinoa Poke Bowl

Course Main Course
Cuisine Hawaiian
Keyword poke bowls, vegan, veganfish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 1 bowl
Author Velvet & Vinegar

Ingredients

tofu & marinade

  • 200 g smoked tofu organic
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil organic
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed oil organic
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp spicy barbecue spice mixture
  • 4 nori leaves

roasted sweet potatoes

  • 170 g sweet potato organic
  • salt to taste, organic
  • olive oil to baste, organic

quinoa

  • 150 g quinoa organic
  • 300 ml water
  • 1/2 cube vegan vegetable bouillon organic

toppings

  • several nori leaves

Instructions

  1.  Preheat the oven at 220° Celsius.

  2.  Cut the tofu into small cubes. Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade and pour over tofu. Put in an airtight container and let rest for 1 hour, preferably over night in the fridge. Make sure to turn the container from time to time.

  3. Peel and thinly slice sweet potato. Line up sweet potato slices on a baking sheet, sprinkle on some salt and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

  4.  In the meantime start cooking quinoa according to the instructions on the packaging. I poured mine in a pan together with the water and bouillon cube, started heating and cooked the quinoa until all the water evaporated. Keep warm.

  5.  Remove baking sheet from the oven, baste the sweet potato slices with olive oil and bake for another 15 minutes in the oven.

  6.  Heat a frying pan and add the tofu cubes (without marinade), sear them for only few minutes until they turn brown and crispy.

  7.  Serve in a bowl and decorate with nori leaves.

Vegan Tuna Poke Bowl

Course Main Course
Cuisine Hawaiian
Keyword poke bowl, vegan, veganfish
Prep Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 1 bowl
Author Velvet & Vinegar

Ingredients

vegan tuna

  • 175 g beetroot organic
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil organic
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed oil organic
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce organic
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp lime or lemon juice organic

sushi rice

  • 250 g sushi rice
  • 350 ml water
  • a pinch of salt organic
  • 1 garlic clove organic
  • 10 g fresh ginger organic

toppings

  • 1/2 avocado organic
  • 1 tsp black roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 scallion organic
  • 5 twigs cilantro organic

Instructions

  1.  Peel the beetroot and cut into small cubes. Mix together with all the ingredients for the marinade, put in an airtight container and let rest for at least 1 hour. It would even be better to marinate for 24 up to 48 hours in the fridge. Make sure to turn the container from time to time.

  2.  Preheat the oven at 220° Celsius.

  3.  Cook sushi rice according to the instructions on the packaging. I poured mine in a pan together with the water and salt, brought to boil, reduced the temperature to low, covered the pan and let simmer for 10 minutes. Then I added the garlic clove, removed the pan from the heat and let the rice rest for 15 minutes (pan covered).

  4. While the rice is cooking, line beetroot cubes on a baking sheet (without marinade) and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

  5.  Peel ginger and grate it right into the cooked rice, mix well.

  6.  Arrange everything in a bowl and decorate with a sliced avocado half, cilantro leaves and sprinkle on some black sesame seeds and scallion rings.

Wakame Tempeh Poke Bowl with fried Banana

Course Main Course
Cuisine Hawaiian
Keyword poke bowls, vegan, veganfish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 1 bowl
Author Velvet & Vinegar

Ingredients

  • 170 g tempeh organic
  • 1-2 tbsp sesame oil organic
  • 250 g wakame salad
  • 1 banana organic
  • 1 scallion organic

Instructions

  1.  Heat a pan, cut tempeh into stripes and add to the pan together with sesame oil. Fry until the stripes turn brown and crispy. Remove tempeh.

  2.  Reduce the heat of the pan. Peel and slice a banana. Fry the banana slices in the same pan on both sides. This is a very quick process only fry them for 1 minute on every side, unless you like them very brownish.

  3.  Serve the tempeh and fried banana on top of wakame salad. Sprinkle on some scallion cut into rings.

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