Ed. Note—today we start another new series on the Wattie Blog, co-hosted with Aaron Vinten from The Athletes Table. He will join us once a month to bring us his favorite athletic recipes that work to keep you fueled, fast, and healthy, all at once. Today? He dives into a dish that some people (this editor included) do not know how to pronounce. Poke, as one syllable? Po-key, as two syllables? Either way, it's delicious.
Hello Mr. Poke Bowl! Let me tell you, you are one of my most favorite post workout meals. Oh. So. Good. A poke bowl is like the “country style” version of a sushi roll. No fuss and no BS. Just put it all in a bowl and dig in! I’ve even heard it referred to as Hawaiian fast-food, but I won’t disrespect it like that. That's a bit too far. I have been lucky enough to have been to Hawaii three times now. Once to Oahu to run the Honolulu marathon. The second to Maui for a belated honeymoon (aka just another excuse to go back) and a third time to Kona on the Big Island to take a crack at IRONMAN Hawaii 70.3. Needless to say, Hawaii is a pretty cool place with so much to explore and experience. Best of all, so much great food. Who knew that a group of volcanic islands in the middle the ocean could be so much fun.When I first get to Hawaii there are always three things I immediately lookout for. Most importantly, a local coffee shop, a running trail and last, but certainly not least….a POKE SHOP. Filled with everything a hungry athlete needs, poke bowls are a high quality source of protein (usually fresh local tuna) and carbohydrates from rice combined with flavorful toppings in countless number of combinations. Maybe you like seaweed salad or pickled vegetables? Maybe some maui onion and macadamia nuts? There are tons of options and no limitations. For my tastebuds, an essential part of a poke bowl is the sauce or marinade used to season the fish. Not all poke bowl shops will do this but, but I think this is where the magic happens. When I'm making poke bowls, I like to allow the fresh tuna to marinate in a combination of soy sauce (or coconut aminos), honey, sesame oil, garlic, rice vinegar and miring, which is a sweet Japanese cooking wine. On the mainland, you can find all these ingredients in the "asian" section of any major grocery store. For this poke bowl I wanted to use some of the ingredients that are classic Hawaiian such as macadamia nuts, maui onion, cilantro and fresh local ahi tuna. Let's make this awesome KONA POKE BOWL! Let’s get started shall we?
STEP 1: PRINT THE RECIPE
Print the EASY recipe card below and follow along with all the pictures!
STEP 2: GATHER YOUR INGREDIENTS
The great thing about a poke bowl is the simplicity of putting them together. They don’t require any fancy ingredients. Although some of the ingredients may seem foreign, I purchased all the ingredients for this recipe at Whole Foods. If you can make a burrito, you can make a poke bowl.
STEP 3: RICE & MARINADE
Start cooking the rice as directed on the packaging. Be sure to use short grain Japanese sushi rice or rice also labeled as "calrose" rice (a California grown variant). All the same stuff, just grown in different locations. I like to bake my rice in the oven, but if you have a rice cooker, go for it! With the rice cooking, start pulling together the poke marinade. In a blender, combine the marinade ingredients including the garlic and peeled ginger in whole form. No need to chop them up. Let the blender do ALL the work! Blend on HIGH for 15-20 seconds. Just enough time to ensure that the ginger has broken down completely. This marinade will be thin and is usable as is, but I recommend thickening the mixture and concentrating the flavors a bit by reducing the marinade on the stove top. In a small pot over medium heat, bring the marinade to a simmer. When the marinade creates a thin coat on the back of the spoon, you are done. Pour out into a small bowl and chill in the freezer until fully cooled.
STEP 4: PREARE THE AHI
Remove the ahi tuna from the fridge and using your sharpest knife, slice the ahi into bite size cubes. I like 1/2 inch bite-size pieces. This size works well because it allows you to also get enough rice and toppings in each bite. Cut the tuna into pieces and place into a bowl. Pour enough chilled marinade over the tuna to evenly coat all pieces, with a bit of excess at the bottom. Reserve in the fridge.
STEP 5: PREP YOUR TOPPINGS.
How is the rice coming along?
As the tuna marinates, let's get started on the toppings.
For this recipe we are sticking with toppings that are very classic to Hawaii and that everyone would love. Slice your sweet maui onion, persian cucumber and green onion. Rough chop your roasted macadamia nuts and cilantro. Get the chili flakes out of the spice rack and have them ready to go. Set aside and be ready to combine the toppings with the tuna. Thats it!
STEP 6: ROASTED SEAWEED TOPPING.
This roasted seaweed topping is optional, but a fun way to finish off this Kona Poke Bowl. You know those square packets of roasted seaweed that you find as a snack in the grocery stores? Yea, those little snack pack things. So good, right?
Combine a whole package of the roasted seaweed, sea salt, red pepper flake, coconut sugar and rice krispies in a bowl. Use your fingers to roughly crush the mixture up and combine together. Reserve and set aside with the toppings.
STEP 7: COMBINE YOUR POKE BOWL
Now the FUN PART! Remove the tuna from the refrigerator and bring all your ingredients in front of you. In a serving bowl, portion out your desired amount of rice. 1 Cup is a good place to start. Set the serving bowl to the side. Grab a mixing bowl and combine your toppings. Then add in the desired amount of marinated tuna. Don’t hesitate to use a LOT of toppings. Give the bowl a quick mix and pour over bowl of rice. Finish the poke bowl with some of the unused marinade and add a good amount of roasted seaweed topping. I love how the marinade combines and seasons the rice too, it brings it all together. This KONA POKE BOWL will not cure you of all your Hawaiian cravings, but it will sure help you feel more like being transported back to those crystal blue beaches. Full of fresh marinated ahi tuna, macadamia nuts, maui onion, cilantro, cucumbers, green onion and finished with a roasted seaweed seasoning, it's almost like being back at the corner poke shop.