When summer rolls around and the hot days make you want to avoid cooking, you can enjoy these delicious salmon poke bowls. These yummy bowls are inspired by Japanese flavors, and the result is a healthy gourmet meal.
If you’ve never enjoyed a salmon poke bowl, you’re missing out on some serious deliciousness. The good news is that we’re here to fix that because we’re going to show you how to make the perfect salmon poke bowl, step-by-step. When you make a poke bowl at home, you can customize your ingredients to get it just the way you want it.
To make salmon poke bowls, you need high-quality salmon, and we’ll give you some tips on how to find it. This recipe uses wild fresh Alaskan salmon. The recipe is a little spicy, and it has a sweetness and tanginess that is addictive.
What Is a Poke Bowl?
Our poke (pronounced po-kay) bowl recipe is a Hawaiian and Japanese-inspired dish that’s made with diced fresh fish, rice, and extra fillings that can include radishes, avocados, and cucumbers. Sometimes poke bowls are made with tuna, but sashimi-quality fish and salmon can also be used.
For poke bowls, the fish is tossed with an easy dressing that complements the fish. Be sure you buy high-quality salmon for your poke bowls.
Choosing Your Sushi-Grade Salmon
The fish you choose to make your salmon poke bowl makes all the difference. For the best homemade poke bowl experience, you have to have the right kind of fish. Salmon is loaded with protein, and salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are rich in nutrients and provide health benefits for both the brain and heart. This recipe is also quick and simple to pull together, so it’s great for busy weeknights.
You can see the dark red color that makes salmon so beautiful and delicious. When you look at a fillet of wild salmon, you know you’re in for a huge treat. Wild-caught salmon has a sweetness that’s somewhat subtle, and the buttery flavor comes alive with every single bite when you eat it in a salmon poke bowl or as sashimi.
Ordering Salmon Online
Look for sushi grade salmon at your local high-end grocery store. You’ll find it in the freezer section near the seafood and fish. Whole Foods carries some sushi-grade fish that’s cut into rectangular pieces, skinned, and packaged conveniently in boxes. You can also find high-quality fish at some Central Market locations.
If you can’t find sushi-grade salmon at your local supermarket or high-end grocery store, you can order it only at places like Luxe Gourmets. When you buy salmon online, the company uses a freezing process called DreamFreeze technology. This freezing technique helps preserve the flavor and texture of the fish by minimizing damage. Best of all, the fish is shipped overnight, so it arrives to you super fresh from the ocean.
You can also buy sockeye salmon online from the Copper River Prince William Sound organization located in rural Alaska.
Can You Use Regular Salmon to Make Salmon Poke Bowls?
Regular salmon can’t be used for making poke bowls. You have to have sushi grade fish to avoid contaminants and toxins. For a fish to be considered sushi-grade, it means that the fish has been frozen to low temperatures for a specific period of time to kill any parasites in the fish. This makes it safe to consume the fish raw.
The FDA Food Code specifies that fish that is going to be eaten raw should be in the freezer for at least seven days at a temperature of -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Another alternative accepted by the FDA is fish being frozen for minimally 15 hours at -31 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures and time amounts will kill off parasites and germs.
Thawing Frozen Salmon
To safely thaw frozen sushi-grade salmon, you need to follow a specific protocol to ensure safety. Most frozen fish fillets make it to your kitchen in vacuum-sealed packets. To thaw them, place the raw fish on a sheet pan lined with paper towels in the fridge. You’re going to leave the fish in the packet, but cut one side open to allow airflow to the fish. The air will also help the salmon thaw more quickly.
When you thaw your fish in the refrigerator, it keeps the fish from coming to a temperature that’s considered to be a danger zone. The thawed fish needs to be flexible and cool but not icy. Never re-freeze thawed fish because the quality and texture won’t be as good.
Ingredients in Salmon Poke Bowl
To make your salmon poke bowl, you need just four ingredients in addition to the frozen salmon. The marinade is made with rice vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, and sriracha sauce. You can also serve your salmon over rice or salad.
If you want a sauce, use mayonnaise or Greek yogurt with some sriracha sauce. You can drizzle this yummy spicy sauce over the top of your poke bowl for added flavor and creaminess.
Do you want a gluten-free salmon poke bowl? If so, leave out the soy sauce and use tamari instead. Tamari’s flavor is more intense than that of soy sauce, so use less of it. Keep in mind that tamari’s color is deeper than soy sauce, so the salmon will look less vibrant.
You can use any type of rice to make a poke bowl, including brown rice, sushi rice, or other short-grain rice. However, you can also make a poke bowl with zoodles (zucchini noodles) or other noodles. You can also make a poke bowl salad and use seaweed or lettuce.
Our recipe is for a salmon poke bowl, but you can substitute another firm fish, such as tuna. You can also use this recipe to make a shrimp poke bowl or even a chicken poke bowl.
Do you want your poke bowl to be spicier? Add some kick with a bit of Korean red chili paste (gochujang). For some crunch, you can add crispy onions, toasted sesame seeds, chopped macadamia nuts, lotus root chips, or crispy dried seaweed (kombu).
How to Make Salmon Poke Bowls
Cut your raw fish into bite-sized cubes and prepare the marinade. The ingredients for the marinade are rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, and sesame oil. Cover the salmon with the marinade and place it in the refrigerator.
Making the Rice
We recommend using short-grain white rice to make a salmon poke rice bowl. You can make your rice on the stovetop, in a rice cooker, or even in an Instant Pot. You can make sushi rice if you like that.
The key to making the perfect rice for poke bowls is not to overcook the rice or allow the rice to become too dry. Rice for poke bowls should be warm but not steaming hot straight out of the pod. Cold rice is too hard. To make rice for your poke bowls, cook the rice and allow it to sit on the countertop for 5-10 minutes to cool slightly. You can also serve this cooked salmon with cauliflower rice.
Preparing the Sauce
If you want to serve your salmon poke bowl with creamy sauce, mix the sriracha sauce with either mayonnaise or Greek yogurt. They’re both delicious. You can prepare the sauce up to two days in advance. This spicy mayo sauce is delicious with other recipes (such as ahi tuna), too.
Customizing Your Salmon Poke Bowl
One of the best things about making a raw salmon poke bowl is the incredible customization you can make with it. With your own favorite ingredients and toppings, you can create unique recipes and put your own spin on this main dish or healthy lunch meal.
We love tons of veggies in our poke bowls, including carrots and cabbage, and of course, our delicious pickled cucumbers. They’re so sweet and tangy, and they really balance out the spiciness of the sauce.
Here are some more additions you can make to your custom poke bowls.
- Coleslaw mix or cabbage
- Finely chopped kale
- Edamame beans
- Spring onion
- Blanched spinach
- Cubed or sliced cucumber
- Blanched edamame
- Thin radish slices
- Green onion
- Toasted sesame seeds (we love sesame seeds!)
- Japanese pickled ginger
We also like to serve a poke salmon bowl meals with brown rice or salad. And don’t forget the creamy avocado slices. Yum!
Make Ahead Salmon Poke Bowls
If you want to make the salmon poke bowls ahead of time, you can cook the rice and make the sauce in advance.
Storing Your Leftovers
Salmon poke bowls are super delicious when they’re eaten fresh, but if you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container. Leftover poke bowls are only good for about a day, so plan to eat them soon. When you store salmon poke bowls, the salmon will cook slowly in the vinegar or lime juice, so the texture will change slightly. They’re still delicious, though.
Spicy Salmon Poke Bowls
- Small bowl
- Medium Bowl
- 2-3 quart Saucepan
- 1 lb. sockeye salmon filet cut the raw fish into cubes about 3/4 inches
- 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar you can substitute apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. chili paste or sriracha sauce
- 2 thinly sliced Persian cucumbers 6 inches
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup Kikkoman rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 tsp. dried red chili flakes
Sriracha Mayo Sauce
- 2 Tbsp. light mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp. sriracha sauce
- Salmon: Combine the low-sodium soy sauce, diced salmon, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and sriracha sauce in a medium bowl. Cover the mixture and refrigerate.
- Pickled Cucumbers: For the pickled cucumbers, combine the water, vinegar, kosher salt, honey, and chili flakes in a medium saucepan. Bring this mixture to a boil using high heat on your stovetop. When the mixture is boiling, immediately turn off the burner's heat and add the cucumber slices. Stir well, then allow it to rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, transfer the pickled cucumbers to a lidded container and put them in the fridge until you're ready to use them.
- Sriracha Sauce: Whisk together in a small bowl the mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt) and sriracha sauce. Refrigerate until ready for use.
- Serving: When you're ready to serve your poke bowls, add other ingredients you want to the bowl. This could be salad or rice. Top the cooked rice or seaweed salad with 1/2 cup of your salmon poke, the other toppings, and the pickled cucumbers. Drizzle the marinated salmon with the sriracha sauce.