Poke bowls have surged in popularity recently. It seems like every month I see a new poke bowl restaurant popping up in my neighborhood. But did you know they are easy to make at home? And a lot more economical. Let me show you how easy it is to make restaurant quality Salmon Poke Bowls. I’ll walk you through selecting and cutting the salmon, mastering addictive sushi rice, and assembling these colorful bowls.
It’s All About the Fish!
A poke depends on the absolute highest quality fish you can find. Because the fish is to be eaten raw, it also needs to be parasite free, so these Salmon Poke Bowls call for sushi grade salmon. We are fortunate to have access to the best quality salmon at the restaurants but thankfully, purchasing raw fish for a home cook has come a long way.
While sushi grade isn’t actually a regulated term at the retail level, it is understood to mean fish that has been flash frozen to destroy any possible parasites, and kept at below freezing temperatures. If you’re buying it frozen, just thaw it according to the package directions. Otherwise, purchase your fish from a reputable fishmonger, where they sell fish that is meant to be consumed raw and have lots of product turnover, so you know your fish is fresh.
Begin prepping the salmon by removing the gray blood line that runs down the center, leaving just the peach colored flesh. (You may have fillets of salmon where the bloodline has already been removed.) Then run your hand down the fish to feel for any bones, and remove them (we use a pair of fish tweezers but you should be able to pull them out with your fingers too). Now the salmon is ready to be cut into beautiful cubes. Keep it covered in the fridge until everything else is ready.
Right before serving, you will make a quick sauce from some pantry ingredients like toasted sesame oil and soy sauce to dress the salmon. This is a light but flavorful sauce that really lets the fish shine.
What Makes Sushi Rice SOOO Good?
If you’ve ever tried and failed to duplicate the completely addictive rice from your favorite sushi restaurant at home, I’ve got you covered for these Salmon Poke Bowls. First, choose the right rice. Sushi rice is a firm, short grain rice. Second, give it a thorough rinse. (I go into further detail on the hows and whys of rinsing your rice here.) Finally, let the rice sit in the water to hydrate the grains before cooking.
The real secret though is the seasoning. Because plain steamed rice makes a sad poke bowl! When we’re at work, we make a sushi vinegar that has many steps, but at home, this simple vinegar syrup works just as well. A couple tablespoons of a rice vinegar, sugar, and water mixture sprinkled onto the hot rice makes a deliciously seasoned base.
It’s important to pour the syrup on when the rice is piping hot, as the excess moisture will evaporate as it cools. Also, be sure to incorporate the rice into the syrup with gentle short “cuts” with a paddle, rather than a vigorous mixing motion. It’s critical that the rice not be crushed in the mixing.
Now comes the fun part! I stick to pretty traditional toppings for my Salmon Poke Bowls. But feel free to improvise-no one is watching! Avocado, masago, cucumber, edamame…these all enhance rather than overpower the delicate flavor of the fish.
Serve the pokes with additional sauce on the side, and some chili sauce for those that like it hot. These Salmon Poke Bowls are light and refreshing. The buttery avocado plays beautifully with the rich salmon, and veggies add a wonderful crunch. These bowls truly have something for everyone! Make them and leave a comment down below, and don’t forget to tag us in your beautiful poke bowl insta pics @funkyasiankitchen– show us the goods!
- 2 cups short grain Japanese rice (preferably tamaki gold or nishiki)
- 2 cups water plus 4 tablespoons
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 2 ½ Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon water
Ginger Soy Sauce:
- 2 oz soy sauce
- 3 oz seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 4 oz red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 lb sashimi grade salmon
- ⅓ european cucumber
- 2 tablespoons masago caviar
- ½ cup shelled edamame
- 1 carrot
- a quarter red onion
- 1 large avocado
- 1 cup prepared seaweed salad (available at Asian markets and even Costco!)
- 2 tablespoons fried shallots (available jarred at Asian markets)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
For the Ginger Soy Sauce:
Stir the soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic together. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce keeps for 5 days in the refrigerator.
Cook the rice:
- Wash rice thoroughly under running water using a gentle scrubbing motion. You are trying to wash away some of the outer starch on the rice. Wash at least twice and drain water.
- If using an automatic rice cooker, use the cup that comes with the cooker to measure the 2 cups. Then, pour spring water up to line #2 (let the rice sit for 30 mins for best results) and push the start button. Otherwise, rinse the rice as described above and then put it in a saucepan that has a tight fitting lid and pour 2 cups plus 4 tablespoons water over the rice. Let the rice sit for 30 mins for best results.
- Bring the pot to a simmer over medium heat. Lower the heat to medium low, stir the rice once with a fork, cover with a lid, and cook until the water disappears, the steam starts to create little holes on the surface, and the rice starts to puff up. This will take approximately 7-8 mins.
- Then stir the rice once more with a fork, cover the pot again, and lower the heat to low and cook the rice for another 10-12 mins. Check the rice. The rice grains should look shiny and will have lost their chalky dull look. Try a small taste if you aren’t sure if it’s ready.
- If the rice is done, let it sit covered for another 5 mins. If it still has a bit of a core, add 2-3 more tablespoons of water and cook, covered, on low for 5 extra mins.
Season the Rice:
- While the rice is resting, stir the vinegar, sugar, and water in a small bowl until well dissolved.
- Turn the rice out into a big mixing bowl and sprinkle half of the seasoning vinegar onto the hot rice. Mix the rice gently using a slight chopping action. Pour the rest of the vinegar over the rice and again mix the rice, being careful not to crush the grains. Let the rice sit out and cool to room temperature before using.
Prep the toppings:
- Trim the salmon by first taking off the gray bloodline. Now run your finger down the center and pull out any bones. Cut the fillet into thin strips and then cut across the strips to create a small ½ inch dice. Put the salmon in a bowl and cover, storing in the fridge until ready to assemble the bowls.
- Thinly slice the cucumber. Then stack the slices and cut across the slices to create a thin julienne. Set aside.
- Peel the carrots. Slice thinly and then stack the slices and cut across the slices to create a thin julienne. Set aside.
- Thinly slice the red onion. Then rinse under cool running water in a colander. This rinse tames some of the harsh bite. Let it drain and then set aside.
- Cut the avocado in half and pop out the seed. Peel the avocado and then dice into small chunks. Set aside.
Assemble the Bowls:
- Divide the rice into 4 large bowls. Top each bowl with carrot, cucumber, red onion, edamame, avocado, and seaweed salad.
- Mix the fish with half of the sauce. Put the salmon in the center of each bowl. Garnish each bowl with a little masago caviar, sesame seeds, and fried shallots.
- Serve the bowls with the remaining sauce for people to use.
Keywords: poke, salmon, sushi, poke bowl