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A POKE BOWL OF GOODNESS

There’s suddenly new food outlets springing up around Australia and overseas. If you haven’t heard of poke bowls, you probably will soon as it’s set to become a major culinary nutrition trend.

Pronounced poh-kay, this raw fish salad is typically served as an entrée in Hawaiian cuisine, but it also has Japanese influences. The word ‘poke’ is Hawaiian for ‘slice’ or ‘cut’ and it often includes either slices of fresh tuna or octopus, along with seasonal, mostly raw vegetables.

Typically, poke is served on a base of mixed cooked brown, white and black rice or soba noodles, so it’s a combination of hot and cold food, and seasoned with soy sauce, spring or green onions, ginger, and sesame oil. Often It may include a variety of other seasonings, such as wasabi, seaweed and chilli. Some people prefer the many varieties  of mayonnaise but from a kilojoule point of view you are better to stick with a lighter oil dressing.

What’s so good about poke? Being based around grains and vegetables, along with seafood, poke provides a range of nutrients and important heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help to protect your heart and improves cardiovascular risk factors (although you may need to watch the sodium levels, depending on the flavourings).

It’s so delicious and you’ll feel healthy eating it…I discussed the increasing trend of poke pop-ups on my 3AW radio segment with Denis Walter and took in a poke bowl from a new food outlet near my office in Melbourne – see the photo.

Denis thoroughly enjoyed eating the delicious mix of chunks of fresh tuna, on a base of brown, black and white rice, served with edamame beans, kimchi, julienned carrot and zucchini, diced beetroot, scattered with black sesame seeds and dressed with sesame oil and light soy sauce.  What’s not to like?

You can do it at home

You can easily make your own poke bowl at home too, no need to wait for this nutritious food trend to reach a store near you! Start with cooked rice seasoned with rice wine vinegar. You can add brown and black rice for flavour and texture. Or use soba noodle or quinoa or any  grain that appeals.

Then choose your fresh seafood, the fresher the better, usually sushi grade. First cut your fish into fillets (tuna is traditional, but you can use other fish, ideally oily varieties like salmon . Or use alternatives like octopus or prawns), then cube. Place in a small bowl and toss in soy sauce, just enough to coat, not overwhelm the delicate seafood flavour. For those of you who don’t eat fish you could substitute chicken or tofu.

Then build your poke salad bowls, starting with the grain, then your choice of fresh, seasonal salad ingredients – chopped spring or green onion, edamame beans, kimchi, julienned carrot and zucchini – or anything you have on hand, diced beetroot, slices of avocado, cherry tomatoes. Top with the seafood, scatter with sesame seeds and dress with sesame oil.

The more colour the better – what a delicious way to eat healthy!