A vegan poke bowl could well be the healthiest yet most filling lunch you've ever prepared at home. Yes, this Japanese-Hawaain fusion food is a great meal to prepare at home, offering you all the essential nutrients and minerals you could ever need in a day!
Our vegan tofu poke bowl has a base of rice that's topped with crispy tofu, a deliciously light tahini dressing, and plenty of cucumbers, carrots, green onions, and other great veggies. There's a spicy kick from the jalapenos and a zesty finish from the freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Poke bowls are the health food trend we love the most, so we're happy to bring you our favorite tofu-based vegan offering. Here's our vegan poke bowl recipe!
What is a poke bowl?
Okay, let's start with the basics. If you're not already familiar with the fruity, veggie-filled dish that is a poke bowl, then keep reading.
Poke bowls are a delightful fusion of Japanese and Hawaiian cuisine. Pronounced Poke-ay, this dish was born in Hawaii to Japanese chefs. Poke bowls are sort of similar in concept to smoothie bowls and buddha bowls, offering a wide range of different ingredients prepared in a single bowl.
Traditionally, poke bowls are topped with sushi-style fish such as tuna or salmon sashimi (the Japanese connection), but our vegan version replaces the fish with crispy tofu instead.
Poke bowls are your chance to be creative, but they contain four major sets of ingredients and garnishes to finish:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Sauce or dressing
Essentially, you take a bed of rice, add a protein (traditionally fish, but in this case, tofu), then layer on chopped veggies and fruit before dressing in a sauce and finishing with garnishes such as chopped herbs or sesame seeds.
No single vegan poke bowl recipe ever has to be the same, so you can tailor-make poke bowls to your tastes and dietary requirements (or to use up whatever you have leftover in the fridge for lunch!).
Let's take a look at our popular vegan bowl recipes with crispy tofu, rice, and tahini dressing in more detail!
Vegan poke bowl recipe tips
Homemade poke bowl ingredient suggestions
Our crispy tofu and tahini vegan poke bowl is just one recipe you can try at home. The beauty of poke bowls is just how easy they are to customize. You can pick your favorite rice, or other grains, alongside your top veggies and garnishes.
Here are our top suggestions for different ingredients to try:
Long grain white rice works well for poke bowls, but you don't need to stick to this.
Wholegrain rice is also a great (and healthy) option, while other grains such as bulgur wheat also work well. You can skip the rice entirely, and opt for quinoa, couscous, or even noodles.
The protein element is what gives our poke bowl its main taste, making it an important focal element of the dish. Traditionally, this protein option was always Japanese-style raw fish (tuna or salmon, mainly).
Of course, our vegan bowl swaps this for tofu instead because tofu is packed with protein and is easy to flavor with seasoning. You can use other alternatives, too, including tempeh, seitan, or lots of protein-rich beans or lentils.
Veggie and fruit options
This is where you can go all out and choose your favorite veggies and fruit. For veggies, you really can try almost anything. Bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, cauliflower. You name it; it's going to work!
For fruit, a classic Hawaain addition is pineapple chunks, but you could also try mango, passionfruit, dragon fruit, or any other fruits with a tropical taste.
Sauce and garnish options
You can try your favorite sauces and garnishes, too, to add that extra level of taste to your poke bowl. As well as tahini, you can opt for a vegan ranch or vegan mayo. You could also go for a simple soy sauce or olive oil dressing or a spicy hot sauce.
For garnish, we recommend always choosing fresh herbs to finish. Cilantro, basil, mint, even parsley or oregano. There's little that won't taste great in a poke bowl.
How to prepare crispy tofu?
Crispy tofu is a major part of our vegan poke bowl recipe. Crispy tofu tastes great, but more importantly, it's packed full of protein and is low in calories, making it a great alternative to the traditional fish component of a poke bowl.
There are lots of different crispy tofu recipes you can try at home, but to start, you'll need extra firm tofu, oil, soy sauce, and cornstarch.
Start by pressing tofu using a tofu press to remove any excess water from the block. Slice your block into bite-sized cubes or triangles, then coat each piece in oil, soy sauce, and finally, in cornstarch.
The soy sauce is for taste, and the cornstarch and oil are for crispiness. Once you've seasoned your tofu cubes, you can either fry them in oil in a large skillet or bake them in the oven. Deep frying only takes around 10 minutes; just remember to keep turning the tofu bites. Baking is easier, as you need much less oil. Simply arrange your pieces on a baking tray, then allow them to cook until crispy (up to 30 minutes).
You can cook up a big batch of crispy tofu and keep it for a few days in the fridge if you want to enjoy poke bowls all through the week. The same goes for rice too. If you've got a big bowl of rice in the fridge already, it's much quicker to assemble your vegetarian poke bowl. You can warm the tofu and rice up or eat them cold.
Are poke bowls healthy?
Vegan poke bowls are wonderfully healthy options for a light lunch or dinner. The reality, too, is that you can customize these bowls as you like, so it's in your control how much crispy tofu or tahini dressing you put into the finished dish.
Poke bowls contain most of the major nutrients and minerals you need from a meal. The rice (or other grain) provides energy in the form of carbohydrates, as well as fiber. The vegetables are your source of essential vitamins, while the tofu provides a low calorie, protein-packed lunch.
You can use whole grains for a healthier kick and skip the crispy tofu in exchange for baked or steamed tofu if you want to avoid any saturated fats (crispy tofu requires cooking in oil, of course).
That's it for our poke bowl recipes, but why not bookmark our article and try a poke bowl for your next healthy dinner?
Vegan Poke Bowl: Tofu Rice Bowl and a Tahini Dressing
1 cup of long grain rice (prepared per instructions on the packet)
16 ounces of crispy tofu
1 diced cucumber
1 ½ cups of shredded cabbage
2 chopped green onions
6 sliced radishes
2 sliced carrots
1 diced avocado
1 cup of edamame
¼ cup of tahini
1 minced clove of garlic
1 tsp of freshly grated ginger
1 tsp of miso pasta
1 tbsp of maple syrup
1 tbsp of rice vinegar
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of sriracha
Toasted sesame seeds
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly chopped cilantro
Ingredients for a vegan poke bowl
Ingredients for tahini dressing
Ingredients for garnishing tofu poke bowl
Prepare your rice by bringing a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Leave the rice to cook as per the instructions, then leave it covered on the side while you prepare the rest of the poke bowl ingredients.
Slice and dice your vegetables into small pieces or long strips as you prefer, before chopping your herbs and squeezing your lemon. Leave all your freshly chopped ingredients to one side.
Now, we can prepare the tahini sauce for our vegan and vegetarian poke bowl. Measure out all of the ingredients for the tahini dressing into a blender, and blend them together into a smooth sauce. If the poke sauce recipe is looking too thick for your liking, then add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out.
With our rice, vegetables, and sauce ready, we can now assemble our vegan bowl. You have enough ingredients prepared for 4 poke bowls, so start by serving the rice evenly into each bowl.
Next, add your vegetables to the poke bowl. Simply pile up a small heap of each vegetable on top of the rice, working your way around the bowl. Finish the look by heaping on a small pile of crispy tofu to finish off the main ingredients.
Add a final layer of avocado and jalapenos, alongside your other garnishes, including freshly chopped cilantro, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
Serve fresh to your hungry friends or family!
*Have your crispy tofu (and rice) prepared in advance to speed up the recipe. See recipe notes below for more information on preparing crispy tofu for your tofu bowl.