A classic Hawaiian preparation, poke (pronounced poh-kay) is a salad of cubed raw fish marinated in sesame oil or soy sauce. Though traditionally made from ahi (yellowfin tuna), salmon or tofu are common substitutions, and the dish can be eaten on its own, or over white rice, noodles, or even spiraled vegetables. In other words: customization is the name of the game.

Poke has long been a popular favorite in Hawaii, but in the past year, restaurants and food trucks dedicated to the dish have begun popping up all across the mainland, too.

How To Order a Poke Bowl?

Ordering a healthy poke bowl means simply switching out ingredients and toppings based on your preferences. For example, if you’re focusing on a low-carb diet, you can order zucchini noodles or a kelp salad instead of rice. Fresh seafood commonly comes next, which is a great option if you’re trying to order a healthy poke bowl. If you would rather not have raw fish, however, you can try substituting tofu or cooked crab. Load your poke bowl with plenty of vegetables for maximum health benefits.

What Ingredients Are Commonly Found in a Poke Bowl?

The most basic poke bowls include these ingredients:

  • A base (usually rice)
  • Sushi-grade salmon or tuna (typically cubed and raw)
  • Sesame oil
  • Asian toppings such as soy sauce and seaweed

However, your options aren’t limited to the above items. You can sub in cooked chicken, crab, tofu or just vegetables. You can also top your poke bowl with various vegetables, avocado, spicy mayo, sesame seeds and more.

How to Eat a Poke Bowl

Your first instinct might be to mix up all the flavors and ingredients when your poke bowl arrives at your table, but that is not how the bowl was designed to be eaten. Poke bowls are constructed to add different flavors and tastes with each bite, which allows you to get the full experience. There is no perfect way to eat a poke bowl — you will have to try it for yourself to see what works for you. Grab a pair of chopsticks and start eating!

Chopsticks are a common utensil to use when eating poke, as they can make it easier to mix and match topping combinations in your bowl. If you are new to these utensils, here are some tips on how to eat with chopsticks:

  1. Hold the chopsticks about one-third of the way down in your dominant hand.
  2. Support the bottom chopstick with your ring finger and the base of your thumb.
  3. Let the second stick rest on your middle finger and the base of your thumb.
  4. Ensure only the top chopstick moves — to do this, move your index finger upward and relax to bring the stick back down.
  5. Try your chopsticks on some food once you feel comfortable.

Using chopsticks for the first time will take practice, but it’s a fun and traditional way to eat a poke bowl.

What’s Good in a Poke Bowl?

The delicious ingredients in your poke bowl depend on your specific tastes and dietary restrictions. For example, if you love pickled vegetables, try adding some pickled ginger or cucumber on top of your rice and protein. dd in edamame if you’re vegan or vegetarian or just want to add more vegetables into your diet. Others love adding fried onions for a crispy texture on top.

Do Poke Bowls Have to Include Raw Fish?

Plenty of diners steer clear of traditional poke bowls to avoid eating uncooked seafood. Many restaurants offer variations on the classic poke bowl by including either rare or cooked fish instead of raw, marinated seafood.

Can Poke Bowls Be Vegetarian or Vegan?

Poke bowls can effortlessly turn into vegetarian or vegan meals. At USS Nemo, we offer a tofu poke bowl for this reason, featuring all the flavor and richness of a regular poke bowl without any meat.