To say I went poke crazy in Vancouver this spring would be a major understatement. Typically, I don’t eat meat very often (I’m actually not vegan, although I eat that way about 90% of the time and have included a vegan option in this recipe) — but anytime I travel, I love to immerse myself in local cuisine. It’s such a treat to be able to indulge in fresh seafood on the coast! After making one too many poke runs when I landed back home in Alberta, I decided to take matters into my own hands and develop a recipe for the ultimate gluten and dairy free poke bowls at home! My Ahi Tuna Poke Bowls with Citrus Ponzu & Sriracha Aioli are an explosion of traditional Japanese flavours infused with a west coast vibe and all the fixings — a mashup of sustainable, sashimi grade ahi tuna, avocado, carrot, cucumber, mango and grilled asparagus adorn a bed of organic brown rice and tender greens, topped with a scratch made, Gluten Free Citrus Ponzu, drizzled with Sriracha Garlic Aioli and garnished with roasted sesame seeds, nori and scallions. They’re even better than the poke bowls I fell in love with by the sea!
I’ve partnered with Inspired Greens to bring you a lightened up version of the classic poke bowl where I’ve used a blend of Inspired Greens MultiLeaf Trio and organic brown rice as the Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl base. If you follow along with my adventures over on Instagram, you may remember their beautiful bouquet of Alberta grown living lettuce from earlier this summer — and as someone who’s passionate about local, plant based eats, I’m elated to continue working Inspired Greens and officially introduce you here at JustineCelina. Their greens add a fresh, flourishing texture and gourmet flair to these summer friendly poke bowls — they’re also a breeze to work with, helping to reduce meal prep time!
AHI TUNA POKE BOWLS WITH CITRUS PONZU + SRIRACHA AIOLI
My Insta Story peeps have seen this elusive poke bowl floating around for the past few months as I developed this recipe — and I’m so happy to finally be bringing it to the blog. I love being able to create my favourite dishes at home with fantastic ingredients and am thrilled with how these came together! Poke bowls are actually pretty easy to make at home, you just need a few more specialty ingredients than you’re probably used to (notes on that below!). Once you build up your Japanese pantry staples and get comfortable using them, it’s so easy to throw a poke inspired bowl together — feel free to substitute whatever protein and fresh veggies you have on hand and use my recipe as a guideline for ratios!
I’d already been testing this recipe for awhile when I started working with Inspired Greens last month to help promote their pop ups around the city (did anyone score some free living lettuce?). Inspired Greens is sustainable, greenhouse grown (right here in the Alberta foothills) living lettuce and completely free of any pesticides and chemicals. It also stays fresher for much longer than typical lettuce varieties because it comes with the root attached — you can actually water it and everything! Their team sent a box of lettuce over earlier this week for me to work with for this post, but sometimes since we live in a secure building, couriers don’t buzz up and deliveries get missed. I went downstairs to check the mail on Tuesday afternoon and saw a missed delivery notice, with pickup scheduled for the next day! I was a bit worried that the lettuce may not be in great shape by the time I could go rescue it from the depot after 11am on Wednesday, especially since it’s been a scorcher in Calgary this week and it was shipped in an unrefrigerated carton. Well low and behold, I picked the lettuce up over 24 hours later and it was pristine, even after sitting out in a hot delivery truck and in an unairconditioned depot for over a day. Although I had already experienced the quality of Inspired Greens first hand from my previous work with them (and subsequently not buying any other lettuce afterwards — find it at Safeway, CO-OP and Superstore!), this shipping mishap really solidified the quality of the product for me. I snapped this photo as soon as I got home from picking the lettuce up — and as you can see, it’s firm, crisp and perky as can be, despite the circumstances!
So when Inspired Greens wanted to partner on a recipe, I was elated. My first inkling was to bring the saskatoon berry salad I developed after our foraging adventure to the blog — but there was one stipulation: the recipe couldn’t be a salad (I’m still planning to publish my saskatoon salad recipe, but it will have to wait until next year because the season is so short!). My second idea was to use the greens to lighten up my poke bowls to make them more summer friendly and extra fresh! Not only do these tender leaves add an incredible texture to my Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl with Citrus Ponzu & Sriracha Aioli, they also allowed me to reduce the amount of rice in the original recipe by half and encouraged me to load them up with even more fruit and veggies — so you go ahead and enjoy this recipe with a glass of rosé! The Multileaf Trio is mellow, refreshing and crunchy, it catches all the saucy goodness of this bowl perfectly, plus it’s so easy to use — just slice it about an inch from the root and voila!
I also took developing this recipe as an opportunity to brush up on my Japanese ingredient knowledge and found myself devouring Diversivore’s pantry pages as I set out to learn all the intricacies. I wanted to create an incredible scratch made, gluten free, citrusy ponzu sauce for these bowls as it’s not something that I was able to find premade — anywhere! Turns out it was actually pretty easy and comes together in about 5 minutes, but you need a few offbeat ingredients — all of which I was able to find at local health food stores (Blush Lane Organic Market and Community Natural Foods) or Japanese / Korean grocers (there’s an amazing one right next to Community on 10th called Arirang Oriental Foods for you locals). That said, if you don’t need your ponzu sauce to be gluten free (ponzu sauce contains soy sauce, which contains gluten) feel free to use a premade ponzu sauce. Before I went gluten free last year around this time, I actually loved the Kikomann variety — and it’s pretty widely available and inexpensive. Or, if you want to try making your own ponzu and don’t need it to be gluten free, substitute regular soy sauce into my recipe (notes on that below). Now that I’ve made my own and know how easy (and exponentially more delicious!) it is, I’m not even tempted by store bought. My Gluten Free Citrus Ponzu will keep for about 1 month if you refrigerate it in an airtight container and it’s delicious on so many things in place of traditional soy sauce — you may even be tempted to make a double batch!
For the rest of the ingredients, we’re just looking at some fresh, summertime produce and a sashimi grade ahi tuna. Fellow Albertans know that beautiful, SeaChoice certified sustainable, sashimi grade ahi tuna can be a chore to track down and it’s very expensive. It’s a major treat for us because I worry about sustainability (and environmental impact) and therefore try to avoid farmed fish. Other than just really loving vegetables and never being big meat eater (I was actually a vegetarian for about 8 years, but that was before I developed a dairy intolerance), this is one of the main reasons for my plant based diet. But when I popped down to Community Natural Foods on 10th to ingredient hunt, I was delighted to find Billingsgate Seafood Market in Community Natural Foods and score probably the most gorgeous piece of ahi tuna I’ve ever laid eyes on (seriously, just wait until you see it!). So, if you’d like to try this recipe with sustainable, sashimi grade ahi tuna, they’re my first recommendation (they’re also located in The Market on MacLeod if you’re in the south). Alternatively, if you don’t have access to sashimi grade fish where you live, substitute it for grilled tuna or salmon. And if you’re vegan, this bowl is also incredible with tofu (lots of notes on substitutions for my vegan friends below!).
Yield: 2 entrée sized bowls
GLUTEN FREE CITRUS PONZU
• 2 tbsp good quality Mirin (if you’re unfamiliar with the ingredient, please head over to Diversivore’s pantry page)
• 1/2 cup Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
Alternatively, if you don’t need this recipe to be gluten free, substitute for regular soy sauce
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1 tbsp orange juice
• 3 tbsp filtered water
• 2 tbsp Bonito flakes (for a vegan option, omit)
AHI TUNA POKE
• 8 oz fillet (or 1 cup, diced) sashimi grade ahi tuna (sustainable, if possible)
If you’re vegan, this works beautifully with firm tofu!
• 2 tbsp Gluten Free Citrus Ponzu
• 1 scallion
• 1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
SRIRACHA GARLIC AIOLI
• 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise (or vegan mayo)
• 1 tbsp Sriracha
• 2 tsp lemon juice
• 1 small clove of garlic
• 2 turns (or a pinch) of Himalayan pink salt
• 1/2 cup organic, long grain brown rice (makes 1 cup cooked)
• 1 head Inspired Greens Multileaf Trio
• 1 mango
• 1/2 cucumber
• 1 avocado
• 2 carrots
• 10 sprigs asparagus
• 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
• Pinch of Himalayan pink salt
• Roasted sesame seeds
• Crumbled nori sheets or nori sprinkles
Optional: Bonito flakes, garlic chips, picked ginger, coconut flakes, tobiko, etc! Have with with it — garnish these bowls with whatever you like on your sushi!
1. Start by preparing your brown rice as instructed on the package. Typically, it takes about 30 – 40 minutes to cook and we have lots of work to do in the meantime!
2. Prepare your Gluten Free Citrus Ponzu. Combine all ingredients except Bonito flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in Bonito flakes. Let the mixture cool, then strain into a bowl (I found a cheesecloth worked well). Cover and refrigerate until we assemble the bowls.
3. Prepare the Ahi Tuna Poke. Begin by dicing the ahi tuna fillet into bite sized pieces. Add ahi tuna to a bowl with 2 tbsp of Gluten Free Citrus Ponzu along with 1 tbsp of roasted sesame seeds and 1 tbsp of chopped scallion. Cover and refrigerate to marinate while we work on the rest of the recipe.
4. Prepare the Sriracha Garlic Aioli by mincing garlic, then combining all ingredients in a medium, metal bowl. Whisk together. Cover and refrigerate until we assemble the bowls.
5. Start prepping the fruit and veggies. Trim the ends from your asparagus and light up the BBQ (I love the texture of grilled asparagus, but you can feel free to saute or boil it!). Begin by seasoning the asparagus with olive oil, Himalayan pink salt and grilling at 500°F for 5 minutes on each side (approximately 10 minutes total, depending on the size of your asparagus). Once bright green and tender, remove from the grill and set aside to cool. Your rice should be ready around this time!
6. While the asparagus is grilling, slice everything up for your poke bowls! Begin by slicing cucumber into matchsticks, dicing mango, spiralizing (or shredding) carrots and slicing avocado. Remove the root from the Inspired Greens Living lettuce, wash the leaves.
7. Assemble Ahi Tuna Poke Bowls by adding 1/2 a cup of rice to one side of your bowl, then add Inspired Greens to the other, along the perimeter. Build your bowls in a clockwise format, adding fruits and veggies as you go.
8. Reserve a spot in the middle for 1/2 cup of Ahi Tuna Poke. Top with approximately 3 tbsp of Gluten Free Citrus Ponzu and a drizzle of Sriracha Garlic Aioli.
9. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds, nori, scallion and whatever else your heart desires.
10. Enjoy immediately!
STILL HUNGRY? MORE PLANT BASED BOWLS & STIRFRYS
Are you poke bowl obsessed? If you are, I hope you’ll give my lightened up Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl with Citrus Ponzu & Sriracha Aioli (and Inspired Greens!) a try. And if you do, I’d love your feedback!
Leave me a comment, or tag me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. You can use the hashtag #justinecelinarecipes in your recreations so I can find them — I love scrolling through the feed and spotting your beautiful recreations! I also have a Pinterest board for my recipes if you’re looking for more plant based culinary inspiration. Thanks for stopping by to learn how to make poke bowls at home today, friends!
Disclaimer: Thank you to Inspired Greens for sponsoring this post. JustineCelina uses affiliate and referral links, which allow me to receive a small commission when you make a purchase through one of my links. Thank you for supporting the brands and businesses that support JustineCelina!