This Vegan Poke Bowl with crispy tofu and creamy Tahini Sauce is a simple recipe that’s healthy, gluten-free, customizable and so delicious! Add your favorite type of rice or even noodles, colorful crunchy vegetables, and tofu, edamame beans or chickpeas for plant-based protein, you’ll have the perfect satisfying rainbow bowl for lunch or dinner!
What is a Poke Bowl?
A poke bowl is a popular Hawaiian dish that is deeply rooted in Japanese cuisine. Since around 2014 it also has become a food trend here in Germany but you have probably seen these colorful bowls at a takeaway restaurant in the UK or US before. “Poke” means “cut into pieces” and the name refers to diced raw fish that is served in a bowl on top of rice with crunchy vegetables and a flavorful dressing, similar to Korean Bibimbap.
While traditional recipes often call for raw tuna or salmon, I made my poke bowl vegan by skipping the fish and using carrot lox and crispy tofu instead. However, if you’re not into tofu, feel free to add some spicy roasted chickpeas or any other plant-based protein sources that you love and have on hand.
How to built a Poke Bowl – DIY!
Since there is no hard rule for making a poke bowl, you can really get creative with the ingredients and put in anything you love to create your own vegan or vegetarian poke bowl. Here are four main components that are basically in a classic poke bowl:
Rice (or other grains):
Most poke bowls start with a base layer of rice such as white rice (my favorite is jasmine rice), brown rice, wild rice, or short-grain sushi rice. However, you could also use rice noodles, glass noodles, or even Quinoa for variation. For a low-carb option, veggie noodles like zucchini noodles would be great.
Protein (Vegan Fish):
For adding protein in vegan or vegetarian poke bowls, you can use crispy tofu chunks and edamame beans like I did but also tempeh, chickpeas, or other protein-rich legumes would go well. While carrot lox is not rich in protein, it adds the perfect fishy flavor and slightly crunchy texture that ensures your poke bowl comes pretty close to the traditional. However, you can also incorporate some nori flakes or seaweed salad if you don’t have time to prepare a batch of carrot lox ahead.
Vegetables & fruits:
Vegetables like cucumber, cabbage, radishes, sliced, green onions, carrots, and edamame beans, add flavor and crunch. But as mentioned before you can really add your favorite veggies. Also, beetroot, kale, spinach, peas, mung bean sprouts, or corn are tasty options. You can even add sweet exotic fruits like pineapple, mango, watermelon, pomegranate, mandarin oranges, or anything you like for a little bit of juicy sweetness! Basically, everything from all crunchy veggies to juicy fruits will do!
Traditional poke bowls are often served with a salty shoyu sauce to highlight and balance out the fatty fish. However, I personally love to serve my vegan poke bowl with a slightly spicy sesame sauce that is basically made with tahini, garlic, ginger, maple syrup, rice vinegar, and tamari or soy sauce. For more flavor, I also like to add some miso paste plus a bit of sriracha or hot sauce for spiciness.
Toppings and Garnishes:
Avocado adds richness, nutrients, and a wonderful creamy texture. Honestly, to me, a poke bowl without avocado is not complete! To make my bowl extra flavorful and spicy I love to garnish it with sesame seeds, fresh lemons or limes, jalapeños, and cilantro or Thai basil.
How to Make Vegan Poke Bowl?
Vegan Poke bowl is absolutely perfect for spring and summer because there is very little cooking involved in making this healthy dish! You’ll love how quick and easy it comes together once the ingredients are prepared.
Step 1: Cook the rice (or noodles)
Start to cook your favorite type of rice as instructed in the recipe card below. Instead of rice, you can also use quinoa or vermicelli rice or glass noodles which are quite easier to cook. Simply soak these thin noodles in hot water for a few minutes as instructed in the recipe for my Vietnamese noodle salad.
Step 2: Make the Crispy Tofu
Step 3: Prepare the Vegetables
Dice the cucumber, shred the cabbage with a Mandoline, and slice the radishes and green onions. If you don’t have carrot lox on hand, cut 2 large carrots into ribbons, using a vegetable peeler or julienne. Also, thaw the edamame as per package instructions and dice the avocado.
Step 4: Make the Tahini Sauce
Next, blend together all ingredients for the tahini sauce in a blender until smooth. Add water until your desired consistency is reached. Alternatively, you can also serve your poke bowl with a creamy peanut sauce.
Step 5: Assemble your poke bowl
When all components are prepared, divide the rice between 4 bowls. Then assemble all prepared veggies, and crispy tofu onto the rice as shown in the step-by-step photos below. Top with avocado, sesame seeds, jalapeños, and herbs as desired. Serve with tahini sauce and lemon or lime wedges on the side.
How to store a poke bowl?
Since this is a vegan poke bowl without raw fish, you can keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 3-4 days, depending on the veggies you use, in an airtight container. Just be sure to store the sauce separately, or it may wilt your veggies. Leftover tahini sauce can be stored longer in the refrigerator for up to 5-6 days. It will thicken in the fridge, but you can add a bit of water to thin before serving.
Tip: I like to prep some rice, carrot lox, tahini sauce, and crispy tofu at the beginning of the week. Then I can make poke bowl variations throughout the week for a quick lunch!
This Vegan Poke Bowl with Tahini Sauce recipe is:
- Vegan, Vegetarian (fish-free)
- Dairy-free (lactose-free)
- Easy to make
- Loaded with crunchy veggies
- Low in calories
- Rich in protein (from tofu and edamame)
- So delicious!
- The perfect cook-out dish for warm summer days!
More Vegan Asian, Chinese or Thai inspired Recipes to try:
- Crispy Yaki Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)
- Vegan Sushi
- Korean Bibimbap with crispy Tofu
- Vegan Pad Thai with Veggie Noodles and Tofu
- Chinese Eggplant with Chili Garlic Sauce
- Vegan dumplings with vegetable filling
- Scallion Pancakes (Chinese flatbread)
- Asian Peanut Noodles with Crispy Tofu
- Crispy Sesame Tofu with Tahini Peanut Sauce
- General Tso’s Tofu with Sweet-Sour Sauce
- Asian Chili Garlic Noodles
If you try this vegan poke bowl, please leave a comment and rating on how you liked the recipe! And if you take a photo of your healthy rainbow veggie bowl and share it on Instagram, please tag me with @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka because I love to see your remakes! Enjoy!
Vegan Poke Bowl with Tahini SauceAuthor:
- 1 cup Jasmine rice
180 g uncooked, or sub another type or rice noodles or quinoa (*see notes) 1 1/2 cup water, 360 ml
- 1 ½ cup water 360 ml
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Recipe crispy tofu or sub crispy chickpeas, *see instruction
Vegetables (use your favorite):
- 1 cucumber diced
- 1 ½ cups purple cabbage shredded (135 g)
- 6-8 radishes sliced
- 3 stalks green onions optional
- 1 batch carrot lox or 2 large julienned carrots
- 1 cup edamame 155 g
- 1 avocado diced
To garnish (optional)
- sesame seeds
- fresh lemons or limes
- jalapeños sliced
- fresh herbs e.g. cilantro or Thai basil
- *Tip: I like to prep some rice, carrot lox, tahini sauce, and crispy tofu at the beginning of the week to make poke bowl variations throughout the week for a quick lunch!
- Add the rice, and water to a pot (or rice cooker) and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to steam for 10 minutes with the lid on. Add the salt, fluff with a fork, and set aside.
- Dice the cucumber, shred the cabbage with a Mandoline, and slice the radishes and green onions. If you don’t have carrot lox on hand, cut 2 large carrots into ribbons, using a vegetable peeler or julienne. Also, thaw the edamame as per package instructions and dice the avocado.
- Blend all ingredients for the tahini sauce in a blender until smooth. Add water to your desired consistency. (Alternatively, serve your poke bowl with peanut sauce).
Assemble the poke bowl:
- Divide the rice between 4 bowls. Then assemble all prepared veggies, and crispy tofu onto the rice as shown in the step-by-step photos above.
- Top with avocado, sesame seeds, jalapeños, and herbs as desired. Serve with tahini sauce and lemon or lime wedges on the side.
- Rice: You can use any type of rice such as white, brown, short-grain sushi rice. For variation use rice or glass noodles or even quinoa and cook according to the package instruction.
- Veggies: Feel free to swap out the veggies to your liking (see blog post for suggestions and tips).
- Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Just be sure to store the sauce separately.
- Leftover tahini sauce can be stored longer in the refrigerator - for up to 5-6 days. It will thicken in the fridge, but you can add a bit of water to thin before serving.
- Please read my blog post for further information and tips on this recipe!
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