What Is A Poke Bowl?

'Poke' is actually a Hawaiian term that means "to cut or slice in chunks" (usually referring to raw fish that is marinated). Poke bowls are essentially rice bowls with raw fish on top. The raw fish is mixed with a marinade that incorporates: soy sauce, red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and seeds. Additional foods to include in the bowl are: vegetables, dressings, sauces, fruit, and seasonings.

Think of the dish as a deconstructed sushi bowl! I will say, the best part about poke is that it can act as a main entree or an appetizer!

But how did these poke bowls start becoming a popular dish?

Where The Poke Bowl Originated From

According to the Hawaii Ocean Project, poke actually started out in Polynesia decades ago! It started as just raw reef fish and a 'marinade' that consisted of limu seaweed and inamona, a condiment of candlenuts and salt. When poke eventually made its way to Hawaii in the 60s, the reef fish was replaced with ahi tuna.

In 2012, poke bowl dishes made their way over to the mainland of the USA. More poke restaurants starting popping up between 2014 and 2016, thus starting the rise of the poke trend!

What’s In A Poke Bowl?

A Poke bowl starts with a base that is either a grain or some type of carb. After the base is chosen, the poke is mixed with a marinade to your level of heat: Mild, Medium, or Spicy. After the poke is marinated and added on top of the base, it is then garnished with any toppings your heart desires! Some popular toppings include scallions, seaweed salad, kimchi, mango, edamame, and wasabi. For more flavor, you can add a little drizzle on top of it all, like sriracha, spicy mayo, eel sauce, and sweet Thai chili.

Are Poke Bowls Hot Or Cold?

There are different elements to this, but the answer is: it's a combination.


  • Hotter bases include: white/brown sushi rice or quinoa
  • Colder bases include: soba noodles, salad, or spiralized zucchini noodles


  • Cooked poke: chicken, tofu, and shrimp can be cooked
  • Raw poke (aka the fish): ahi tuna, spicy tuna, salmon, and shrimp

Different Ways To Eat Poke

Poke Tacos: Want a different take on your typical beef taco or even take a break from Baja fish tacos? Ahi Tuna poke tacos might interest you!

Poke Nachos: Add your poke on top of some nacho chips and top with whatever sauce you desire. You can also find poke nachos sold at different restaurants now, such as Yard House.

How Healthy Is Poke?

The key to have a poke bowl that is considered "healthy" is to completely customize your bowl.

Some examples of healthy customizations:

  • Swapping out white rice for brown rice, quinoa, or even leafy greens.
  • Choosing fresh vegetables as your topping, rather than fried onions or crab meat.
  • Adding in edamame to your bowl if you eat a plant-based diet, as it will increase your protein levels.

As for the main protein sources, salmon and tuna will offer the best health benefits!

Salmon: High in omega-3s and vitamin B-12

Tuna: Higher levels of magnesium, iron, and calcium

How Long Is A Poke Bowl Good For?

If you make poke yourself or get it from a restaurant, it can be consumed that day. However, if you have leftovers, the poke will only last up to 2 days in the refrigerator!

Is It Safe To Eat Raw?

People have been eating raw fish for decades, however, those who may be classified under the "high risk" category should be weary due to the mercury levels. People under the high risk category include: pregnant women, younger children, older adults, and babies. If you're craving fish and are at high risk, you can always ask that the fish be fully cooked.

However, if you do not classify as high risk, just make sure to keep track of your daily intake of raw fish. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2 servings, of any kind of fish, per week.

When making the decision to consume raw fish, make sure you are purchasing it from a trusted source that has properly handled the fish.

Not only are poke bowls photogenically pleasing, but they are also a refreshing meal that will definitely fill you up.

If you haven't tried poke yet, it's time to expand you pallet and give it a shot! Either find a local restaurant that sells poke, or try out this ahi tuna poke recipe that we LOVE!

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