This vegan poke bowl recipe swaps cubed watermelon for raw fish. Its pink color mimics the fish perfectly, and it makes these bowls refreshing & fun!
There’s a new poke bowl shop in town called Poke Poke, and we’re just a little obsessed. Jack and I have eaten there at least 2x per week since it opened. In fact, we’ve just returned from eating lunch there. We might be late to jump on the poke trend, but there’s something so crave-able about these sort of deconstructed sushi bowls. Please tell me that we’re not the only ones that get hooked on the same type of food for weeks on end?
What is a poke bowl?
The easiest way for me to describe a poke bowl is as I did above, as “a deconstructed sushi bowl.” It originated in Hawaii, and the bowls usually consist of a base of rice, cubed raw fish, seasonings like green onions and sesame seeds, and other toppings. A salty soy sauce and sesame oil marinade often finishes them off. Hawaiian poke is available all over the place – from grocery stores to food trucks to high-end restaurants – but here, poke bowl shops are just starting to pop up.
Even though Poke Poke is close to our house, I wanted to make a poke bowl recipe at home to share with all of you. Only I didn’t want to use fish because, well, this is a vegetarian blog. Also, I’m not a big fan of getting sushi grade fish at the grocery store. Enter – watermelon. I first saw the idea here and I was intrigued. While it doesn’t taste like ahi tuna, it sure looks like it, and it’s fresh, fun, and delicious.
My Poke Bowl Ingredients
In my poke bowl recipe, I skipped the rice. You could easily add some, but I found the grain-free bowl to be the perfect light meal on a hot summer day. Here’s what made it so refreshing:
- Watermelon acts as the fish. It’s cooling, juicy, crisp & sweet – delicious!
- Pickled ginger adds a little sweet/tangy pop.
- Cucumber gives it a cooling crunch and pairs perfectly with the melon.
- Macadamia nuts are a Hawaiian staple, and they add delectable richness and crunch.
- Jalapeño spices it up.
- Scallions are a classic poke bowl ingredient, and they cut through the sweetness of the watermelon.
- Avocado gives this bowl essential creaminess, balancing the sweet & sharp flavors.
- A tangy tamari-sesame-lime sauce ties it all together.
- And furikake – a toasted nori and sesame seed condiment – is the perfect nutty, toasty finishing touch.
Poke Bowl Recipe Variations
Customizing your bowl is one of the best parts of eating poke, so don’t hesitate to fix yours to your liking. If you need ideas to change this recipe up, here are a few suggestions:
- Make a more traditional poke bowl by adding a base of rice. Jasmine rice is customary, but brown rice or even quinoa would be good too.
- Swap the watermelon for diced mango, marinated or baked tofu, or sashimi grade fish if you’re not vegetarian!
- I like the macadamia nuts for a little Hawaiian flare, but if they’re not your thing, omit them entirely, or replace them with another nut, crisp fresh corn kernels, or steamed shelled edamame.
- Add a handful of cilantro, mint, or basil.
- Try using the sauce from this recipe!
Let me know what variations you try!
If you love this poke bowl recipe…
Watermelon Poke Bowl
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cane sugar or agave
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- 5 cups cubed watermelon
- ¼ cup chopped scallions
- 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup macadamia nuts
- 2 tablespoons pickled ginger
- 1 small jalapeño or thai chile, diced
- ½ ripe avocado, pitted and diced
- Furikake (recipe below) or toasted sesame seeds
- Handful of microgreens, optional
- 1 sheet nori
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- Make the furikake (if using): Toast the nori over a gas burner by waving the sheet above the burner until it’s darkened and crispy. Cut into small pieces. Place the toasted nori in a food processor with the sesame seeds, salt and sugar. Pulse until everything is well chopped up.
- Make the dressing: In a small bowl combine the tamari, garlic, lime juice, rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil.
- Toss the watermelon with the scallions and a bit of the dressing. Assemble bowls with the watermelon, cucumber, macadamia nuts, pickled ginger, jalapeño, avocado and microgreens, if using. Pour on more dressing (as much as you like) and gently toss. Serve with furikake sprinkled on top.
Use leftover furikake topping on rice bowls with grilled or roasted vegetables.