A vegan poke bowl filled with crispy tofu, lots of colorful veggies, and then topped with a sweet ginger dressing or a spicy dynamite sauce! This vegan version has all the great flavors of a traditional poke bowl while remaining plant-based.
In recent years, poke bowls have become very popular, and fast-casual restaurants are popping up everywhere. What is a poke bowl, you ask? Traditional poke bowls are a Hawaiian meal typically made with ahi tuna and sushi rice. Sometimes they are also called sushi bowls.
If you are like me, seafood is off the menu. So instead, I created this vegan poke bowl recipe where all the fantastic poke flavors shine through, without any animal products. As I like to think of it, I am making the best parts of a traditional poke bowl for dinner.
Select the Type of Tofu
Tofu comes in varying degrees of firmness. For this recipe, I recommend using extra-firm tofu. The firmness holds up well during the marinading process.
Tofu is found at grocery stores across the US. If you live near Trader Joe's, check out their super firm tofu. The texture is perfect for this recipe, and you do not need to press out any water.
Press out the Water
Most tofu is sold in a container filled with water. The water is needed to keep the tofu fresh. Before baking the tofu, it is essential to press the water out. The tofu will crisp in the oven and absorb the marinade by removing the water. Here are the two most common ways to remove excess water.
- Weight - Wrap the tofu block in a clean kitchen towel, similar to a lint-free tea towel. Directly place a heavy object on the tofu, such as a cast-iron pan or a regular pan. Let sit for 15 - 30 minutes.
- Press - A tofu press is two pieces of plastic or bamboo held together with four screws. The tofu is inserted into the press, and the screws are tightened. The press is then placed on its side, and then the scores are tightened every 3 - 5 minutes for 15 minutes.
Once pressed, cut the tofu into one-inch cubes. I do this by cutting down the middle creating two halves. Then cut one-inch strips. Make a quarter turn and then cut into one-inch strips again. This will create perfect cubes.
For this recipe, I am using a sushi-inspired tofu marinade. To make this marinade, you will need to start with a small bowl. Then mix two tablespoons of corn starch, two tablespoons of rice vinegar, two tablespoons of soy sauce, two minced garlic close, and one teaspoon of wasabi paste in a medium-sized bowl.
Place the tofu squares in the bowl and gently toss. Let stand for 15 - 20 minutes, occasionally tilting the bowl to move the marinade around.
Move the tofu into a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake at 425F/225c for 25 - 30 minutes or until the edges are crispy. Flip the tofu midway through baking.
Visual Tofu Steps
Prepare the Rice
Use your favorite type of rice or other grain in this poke bowl. I always use short-grain white rice. Black rice, brown rice, bulgar wheat, cauliflower rice, or quinoa taste great with this recipe. Always prepare the grain according to the package instructions.
I loaded this poke bowl up with my favorite sushi flavors, crunchy vegetables, and sweet mango. While I did not use all fruits and fresh veggies below, I wanted to include the list here for you to customize your bowl to perfection.
- Cubbed Pineapple
- Mango Chunks
- Sliced Kiwi
- Watermelon Cubes
- Avocado Slices
- Edamame Beans
- Fresh Radishes
- Green Onions
- Red Beets
- Red Cabbage
- Sweet Potatoes
- Black Sesame Seeds
- Cilantro Leaves
- Fresh Ginger
- Lime Juice
- Nori Sheets
- Panko Bread Crums
- White Sesame Seeds
Assemble the poke bowl in layers similar to a chipotle bowl. This is how I recommend ordering the layers.
- Start with a bed of rice or other grain.
- Add the marinated tofu.
- Add lots of fresh veggies and fruits.
- Top with the dressing of your choice.
- Sprinkle the sesame seeds or other topping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Poke bowls are from Hawaii. Poke means 'to slice' or 'cut crosswise into pieces.' Poke developed with fishermen seasoning the cut-offs from their catch to serve as a snack while fishing.
The calorie count will vary by ingredients. This bowl has between 417 - and 550 calories depending on your dressing. A nutritional label at the bottom of the recipe breaks down the calories.
While Japanese cuisine has heavily influenced traditional poke flavors, the bowls originated from Hawaii.
Tofu does not need to be cooked. However, if marinated or cooked with a sauce, tofu will absorb the flavor. Cooks use this to their advantage to add additional flavors to their dishes.
Generally, poke bowls are very healthy. However, they can quickly become unhealthy depending on the ingredients. This poke bowl recipe is healthy. If you want to make it healthier, top it with the sweet ginger dressing instead of the dynamite sauce
Make-Ahead and Storing
Countertop Instructions: Allow to fully cool and then place in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to three days.
Refrigerate Instructions: Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to seven days.
Freezing Instructions: Place in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to three months.
Vegan Poke Bowl + Crispy Tofu
Tofu + Marinade
- 14 ounce block (397g) extra firm tofu block, cubed
- 2 tablespoons (16g) corn starch
- 2 tablespoon (32g) rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoon (36g) soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon (5g) wasabi paste
Rice and Vegetables
- 2 cups (316g) cooked short-grain rice (white, brown, cauliflower, etc.)
- ½ cucumber, sliced thin
- 1 avocado, sliced thin
- 1 cup (89g) red cabbage, sliced thin
- 1 cup (155g) edamame, shelled
- 1 cup (165g) mango, cubbed
- 1 jalapeno, sliced thin
- 2 kiwi, sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon (8g) sesame seeds
Top with Either Sweet Ginger Dressing or Dynamite Sauce
Sweet Ginger Dressing
- ¼ cup (64g) rice vinegar
- ¼ cup (80g) maple syrup or honey
- ¼ cup (58g) soy sauce or tamari
- ½ teaspoon (1g) dried ginger
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25g) wasabi paste
- ¼ cup (56g) veganaise
- 1 tablespoon (13g) sriracha
- ½ teaspoon (2.5g) rice vinegar
- Preheat oven to 425f/220c. Start with pressed tofu. If your tofu needs to have the water pressed out, use a tofu press or wrap the tofu and place a heavy pan on top for 15 - 30 minutes.14 ounce block (397g) extra firm tofu block, cubed
- In a medium bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and the cornstarch. Place the tofu squares in the bowl and gently toss. Let stand for 15 - 20 minutes, occasionally tilting the bowl to move the marinade around. Move the tofu into a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake at 425F/225c for 25 - 30 minutes, flipping the tofu midway through baking.2 tablespoon (32g) rice vinegar, 2 tablespoon (36g) soy sauce, 2 cloves garlic minced, 1 teaspoon (5g) wasabi paste, 2 tablespoons (16g) corn starch
Rice and Veggies
- Prepare rice as directed on the package. While the rice is cooking prepare the vegetables.2 cups (316g) cooked short-grain rice (white, brown, cauliflower, etc.), ½ cucumber, sliced thin, 1 avocado, sliced thin, 1 cup (89g) red cabbage, sliced thin, 1 cup (155g) edamame, shelled, 1 cup (165g) mango, cubbed, 1 jalapeno, sliced thin, 2 kiwi, sliced thin, 1 tablespoon (8g) sesame seeds
Sweet Ginger Dressing or Dynamite Sauce
- In a small bowl combine all the ingredients together. See above for correlating ingredients.
- Layer each bowl starting with the rice, then add tofu, veggies, and dressing and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.