Poke bowls are a traditional Hawaiian dish made using fish and fresh vegetables. An authentic poke bowl has raw marinated fish. Think sashimi or ceviche. I’m a vegetarian and so while this isn’t technically a poke bowl… hence the inverted commas… veggie and vegan versions of the dish have been popping up for some time now and I thought I’d add one to the blog. I made these for my family last week and offered salmon as an add-on for my pescatarian diners.
There are few better ways to eat raw vegetables than in a Poke Bowl. This recipe has raw carrot, cucumber and radish. Combine with quinoa for protein, sauerkraut for flavour, a hot chilli vegan dressing for a kick, and ripe mango for sweetness and you have a great summer dinner on your hands. You will almost think you are in Hawaii. Honestly!
For dishes like this, it’s worth taking some time to put together a visually appealing poke bowl. While taste is paramount, we eat with our eyes too and during the summer, turning out bright and colourful dishes makes our food all the more appeatising. I’m not talking about producing “insta-worthy” dishes here. For me taking a little time to present my food isn’t about going hungry while I fiddle with my food and snap away. Rather it helps me to be more mindful of the food I’m eating, how it’s produced and the nourishment it offers.
A quick word about the Hot Chilli Vegan Dressing. It’s made using cashew nuts which I soak in hot water before blending along with some other everyday ingredients into a creamy sauce. Cashew nuts are a vegan’s best friend and form the base of many a dairy alternative. Cashew nut-based sauces are delicious in their own right and shouldn’t be the reserve of vegans. Give this one a go if you fancy trying something new in the kitchen.
And a quick word about sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. While I admit that it might not sound the most appealing, once you try fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi they will become regulars on your shopping list. You can try make your own, but for handiness, I recommend buying one of the ready-made brands that are widely available now. Expect sauerkraut to taste a little sour, but combined with the other ingredients in this dish, it works really well to help create a well-balanced dish.
Keep scrolling for the recipe for these Vegan “Poke” Bowls with Hot Chilli Sauce and just in case you are wondering… Poke is pronounced as “poke-ay”.
Vegan 'Poke' Bowls with Hot Chilli Sauce
1 cup quinoa
1 large carrot
2 ripe avocados
For the vegan hot chilli sauce
½ cup cashew nuts
Juice of a lemon
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup water
Pinch sea salt
Rinse the quinoa and place in a medium size saucepan over a medium heat. Cook for a minute and then add 500ml boiling water. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the quinoa for approx. 15 minutes until the water is absorbed and the quinoa fluffy. If required, add extra water. Once cooked, remove from the heat and set to one side.
While the quinoa is cooking, prep the raw vegetables. It helps to use a grater or a mandolin to slice the vegetables very thinly. Grate the carrots using either a box grater or a food processor. Slice the radishes very thinly using either a sharp knife or a mandolin. Chop the cucumbers into fine slices or sticks. Chop the mango into same pieces. Peel and destone the avocados and chop the flesh into thin slices. Keep all the ingredients in separate bowls until it’s time to assemble the poke bowls.
Dry toast a half cup of cashew nuts on a pan over a medium heat for a few minutes tossing regularly so they don’t burn. Once lightly golden remove from the heat and set to one side.
To make the hot sauce, soak the cashew nuts in hot water for 30 minutes and then drain them. This will soften them and make the nuts easier to blend into a creamy sauce. Add the nuts and the other ingredients, save for the water to a food blender. Blend into a thick sauce. Gradually add the water to thin it out until you achieve a pouring consistency. Set to one side.
To assemble the bowls, add a little of each of the quinoa and the raw vegetables and mango to bowls. Top with a few slices of ripe avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. Drizzle a tbsp of the hot sauce over each bowl. Serve the remaining hot sauce on the side for people to help themselves. Top each bowl with a few leaves of fresh coriander and some toasted cashew nuts.