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These days there seems to be a poke shop on almost every corner offering a wide assortment of add-ons that are not found in real Hawaiian poke which does not include quinoa, carrots, zucchini noodles, radishes, pineapple, mango, bamboo shoots, tofu, crab, salmon, or any of the other ingredients that are usually found on these menus. Our ahi tuna poke bowl recipe is based on the simple, traditional Hawaiian poke bowl that highlights the fish (in this case tuna) using a simple and classic marinade recipe.
What is Hawaiian Poke?
Hawaiian poke, commonly referred to as simply “poke” (pronounced poh-key), is a traditional Hawaiian dish that has gained popularity worldwide. The word “poke” means “to slice” in Hawaiian, which describes the preparation of the dish. Originating from early Hawaiian fishermen eating freshly caught fish that was served raw and seasoned with sea salt, seaweed, and anything else they had on hand. It consists of diced, raw fish (typically yellowfin tuna or salmon) marinated in a soy sauce-based mixture. Shoyu poke is essentially the same as Hawaiian poke. Shoyu is a type of soy sauce, specifically a Japanese-style soy sauce.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
This poke bowl recipe is a raw fish dish so use only the highest quality ingredients.
The complete ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Ahi Tuna: The tuna in this poke is raw so only use sushi-grade tuna (or saku maguro). We buy our tuna at a local high-end grocery store but you can also find it at stores such as Whole Foods or a local fishmonger. Be sure to purchase only from reputable vendors or stores that carry sushi-grade fish. If you buy your tuna frozen, the safest way to thaw it is overnight in the refrigerator the night before. It should be kept chilled until it is ready to be prepared and served. Once the tuna has thawed use a clean, dry surface, like a cutting board, and pat dry the tuna with clean paper towels.
- Rice: We used jasmine rice for our poke bowls but feel free to substitute basmati or another long-grain brown or white rice.
- Oyster Sauce: Despite the name (and ingredient) it doesn’t taste like oysters. It is a little sweet and a little salty (think ocean water, not table salt). It adds a jolt of umami flavor to sauces. Because of the uniqueness of oyster sauce, and its being readily available, there really isn’t a good substitute.
- Chili Garlic Sauce: Thicker and chunkier than Sriracha sauce, it adds a little spice to the poke bowl. If you prefer it spicy sriracha is an easy substitute and you can add less or more depending on your heat preference.
- Sesame Oil: Light color sesame oil is made from raw sesame seeds and has an earthy, nutty flavor. Dark sesame oil is made from toasted sesame seeds and has a thicker consistency and more pronounced flavor. For this recipe use dark sesame oil.
- Soy Sauce (or Shoyu): Adding a sweet, salty, umami flavor to the dish soy sauce is a do not skip ingredient in the poke marinade. To get the most authentic taste opt for a Japanese-style soy sauce such as Kikkoman. Tamari is a good substitute and doesn’t contain wheat for anyone following a wheat or gluten-free diet.
How to Make Ahi Tuna Poke Bowls
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: The ahi tuna steaks that you purchase at grocery stores should only be eaten raw if they are labeled as sushi grade or sashimi grade. When in doubt ask someone at the fish counter.
1. Prepare the Tuna: Pat the ahi tuna dry and then neatly cut it into small bite-size 1/2-inch cubes with a sharp knife. Place the tuna in a medium bowl and add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, and green onions. Toss well to coat, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. Cook the Rice: While the tuna is marinating cook the jasmine rice according to the package instructions. Allow rice to cool for 5-10 minutes so it doesn’t scorch the tuna.
3. Serve: To assemble the bowls, scoop half the warm rice into a bowl then top with half the marinated tuna, slices of avocado, seaweed salad, or microgreens, then sprinkle some white and black sesame seeds over the top. Repeat with the second bowl. Serve poke bowls immediately.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- You should only use sushi-grade tuna since it is being eaten raw.
- Keep raw tuna refrigerated until ready to be prepared.
Frequently Asked Questions
Since this recipe uses raw tuna we recommended not saving leftovers so only buy, thaw, and prepare what will be eaten.
They are the same fish. Ahi is the Hawaiian name for yellowfin tuna.
Poke means “cut into chunks” in Hawaiian. Tuna poke is sliced tuna that has been marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil and mixed with onion and then served over rice.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this Hawaiian poke recipe, we recommend checking out some of these other seafood dishes:
Let’s Connect! If you make our Hawaiian Style Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl or any other recipe on Casual Epicure, please don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are considering making our recipes and we love hearing about your cooking experiences. And if you snapped some shots, share them on Instagram, and be sure to tag @casual.epicure so we can feature them in our stories.
Hawaiian Style Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl
- 8 ounces saku maguro/sushi-grade ahi tuna
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon oyster sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon chili garlic sauce
- ¼ cup green onions, chopped
- ½ cup dried jasmine rice
- 1 avocado, sliced
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- Pat the ahi tuna dry and then neatly cut it into small 1/2-inch cubes.
- Place the tuna in a bowl and add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, and green onions. Toss well to coat and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- While the tuna is marinating cook the jasmine rice according to the package instructions. Allow rice to cool for 5-10 minutes so it doesn't scorch the tuna.
- To assemble the bowls, scoop half the rice into two bowls then top with the marinated tuna, slices of avocado, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.