Vegan Poke Bowl

Here’s how to make a vegan poke bowl! You’ll be surprised at how much flavor comes from marinaded beet poke, colorful veggies and spicy mayo.

Vegan poke bowl

Want to eat plant based but have your poke bowls too? These popular healthy bowl meals are all the rage lately. Poke is a Hawaiian specialty, typically made with raw ahi tuna that’s marinaded and then served with lots of veggies and tasty sauces. What if you don’t eat fish? We’ve got a whole food plant based (WFPB) version for you: vegan poke bowls! These tasty bowls are bursting with flavor, and they’ve got an unusual ingredient that amazingly gives the same texture and flavor as poke. Beets. Yep, you’re going to have to taste this to believe it…but it really works!

Vegan poke bowl

Really, beet poke?

Yes! Odd as it sounds, cooked beets stand in for the fish in this vegan poke bowl. Somehow the textures and the marinade really work! The beet poke comes out buttery and tender, savory with hints of soy, sesame and ginger. Just how to pull off this trick? Here are our secrets:

  • Boiled beets have a similar texture and color to poke: smooth and buttery. Of course, beets have a darker pink color than the bright pink ahi tuna: but they’re close! Cut them in cubes to simulate the real thing.
  • Stir in the poke sauce and the beets instantly pick up the flavors of soy, toasted sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and green onion. It’s pretty incredible. You’ve got to taste this to believe it!
  • Add filling plant-based protein to your bowl. Since beets don’t have protein, you’ll need to make sure other components of your bowl keep it filling. With edamame and brown rice, this bowl has a good amount of filling protein and fiber.
  • Add richness with spicy mayo. Beets are missing one more thing that ahi tuna has: fat! The spicy mayo drizzle brings back some of the richness.
Vegan Poke Bowl

Why make a vegan poke bowl?

This vegan poke bowl is a tasty, healthy plant based dinner recipe that makes eating your vegetables taste incredible! The beet poke tastes so buttery and savory from the soy and sesame oil, you’ll feel like you’re eating the real thing. (Though if you’re a long-time vegan, perhaps you haven’t tried it!)

Alex and I eat a Mediterranean-style diet that includes some seafood. So, we love our Classic Poke Bowls when we want to splurge on a really good piece of fish. But most of the time we eat a mostly plant based diet, so we make both of these poke bowl recipes. Each one is its own experience: uniquely delicious in its own way! It’s also nice to have both recipes if you’re cooking for a crowd with mixed diets. Make the same toppings and then serve either the ahi poke or the vegan beet poke!

Spicy mayo required! But what if I don’t like heat?

Good question! Spicy mayo is what takes this vegan poke bowl over the top. The richness and tang that it adds is essential to the bowl experience. We highly recommend it! Here’s our Spicy Mayo recipe. Of course, make use you find a good vegan mayo; it is easy to find at most grocery stores these days or online. But what if you can’t handle the heat? Here’s what to do:

  • Make lime mayo. Mix the 1/2 cup vegan mayo with 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1 teaspoon soy sauce, to get all the tang but none of the heat!
Spicy mayo

Where did the poke bowl originate?

Poke is a Hawaiian dish! The word is Hawaiian for “to slice” or “cut crosswise into pieces.” It refers to the raw fish that’s cut into cubes. Poke is a Hawaiian-American food, but much of its flavor is influenced by Japanese cuisine: soy sauce, green onions, and sesame oil. Serve poke with rice, veggies, and other sauces and it becomes a poke bowl.

Interestingly, poke bowls started to become very popular in North America around 2012. As you might imagine, this spawned a lot of creativity around exactly what goes into a poke bowl! This vegan poke bowl is not traditional because it’s a plant based knock off, of course. For our classic poke bowl with ahi tuna, go to Poke Bowl Recipe.

Marinaded beet poke

Vegan poke bowl topping ideas!

There are so many ways to make a great vegan poke bowl! You can easily customize it around your own preferences. Since the poke here is made of beets, you’ll want to make sure you have lots of plant-based protein and fiber in this bowl to keep you full. In this bowl, we did add some light seasonings to each veggie to bring out the flavor. Here’s what you’ll find in this poke bowl, and then some other ideas:

Toppings in this poke bowl

  • Short grain rice Use white or brown! Traditionally it’s white sushi rice, we tend toward brown since it has more fiber and nutrients.
  • Edamame frozen and thawed, well salted
  • Radishes if you can find watermelon radishes, they’ve got beautiful color!
  • Avocado also adds richness and is filling
  • Carrots are beautiful for color
  • Green onion adds a crunch
  • Spicy mayo adds richness: it’s a must!
  • Sesame seeds

Other vegan poke bowl topping ideas

  • Marinaded tofu: To add even more protein, add this tasty marinaded tofu.
  • Cucumber seaweed salad: Take 1 large English cucumber and julienne it into long thin strips (3 cups; we used a handheld julienne peeler). Mix with 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.
  • Sliced cucumber: Even easier, just thinly slice it!
  • Red cabbage: Shred it and add a little toasted sesame oil
  • Vegan ponzu sauce like this one
Vegan Poke Bowl

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Vegan poke bowl

Vegan Poke Bowl


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (24 votes, average: 4.29 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

Here’s how to make a vegan poke bowl! You’ll be surprised at how much flavor comes from marinaded beet poke, colorful veggies and spicy mayo.


Scale

Ingredients

For the beet poke

  • 6 medium beets (or pre-cooked beets, as a time saver*)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon minced green onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the poke bowl

  • 1 cup short grain white rice or brown rice
  • 2 cups shelled edamame (thawed)
  • 3 green onions
  • 8 radishes
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 medium carrots
  • Spicy Mayo, for drizzling (use lime juice instead of hot sauce for a non-spicy version)
  • For the garnish: Toasted sesame seeds, microgreens or sprouts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook the beets*: Use How to Boil Beets (takes about 40 minutes total) or Instant Pot Beets (takes 25 minutes). Peel the beets according to the recipe, then slice them into 1/2-inch cubes.
  2. Make the rice: Make the rice on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot. When it’s done, give it a few shakes of rice vinegar and stir in salt to taste. (Or, make the rice in advance and reheat it on the stovetop with a splash of water.)
  3. Season the beets: When they’re cooked, place the beets in a bowl and stir together the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, grated garlic, ginger, minced green onion, and kosher salt.
  4. Prepare the veggies: Thinly slice the green onions and radishes. Slice the avocado. Julienne the carrots (or peel strips with a veggie peeler). Sprinkle all the veggies with salt.
  5. Serve: Place the veggies and rice in a bowl. Top with the beet poke and garnish the poke with sesame seeds. Drizzle with Spicy Mayo and serve.

Notes

*Many grocery stores now carry pre-cooked beets that are packaged and ready to eat. Buy these for a time saver in this recipe!

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: Vegan Poke Bowl

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

3 Comments

  • Reply
    Hillary Bucs
    January 31, 2020 at 11:19 am

    I love your recipes! Can you recommend a substitute for soy sauce for the Poke sauce?
    Thank you!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      January 31, 2020 at 1:06 pm

      You could try subbing Liquid Aminos!

  • Reply
    Carlos Nieves
    May 19, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    I made this recipe. I added Nori Komi Furikake, Japanese multi-purpose seasoning, which I found at Trader Joe’s. The seasoning is made from black seaweed and sesame white/black seeds. Dish was delicious.

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