These Vegan Poké Bowls are a healthy plant-based riff on the Hawaiian classic. Made with tofu, massaged kale, and a creamy vegan dressing, this is a healthy and delicious meal bowl recipe.
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I first shared this recipe for Vegan Poké Bowls a few years ago after we spent a month on Kauai. It was one of those recipes I didn’t give much thought to after I hit the publish button, but recently someone ordered poke bowls for lunch at a work event and I was like ohhhhhhh yeah those were super good!
I made up a batch of poké bowls for a family dinner a few weeks back when I was re-testing the recipe, and we assembled them family style. The kids loved them (I called them Pokemon bowls, that might have had something to do with it) especially since they could choose their own toppings (they went very heavy on the mango and edamame).
Since my husband isn’t vegetarian, he did some seared tuna to top his bowl, and the kids kind of mixed and matched. I think this makes a perfect dish for mixed-diet families like ours, and I’m sure they could be made to suit just about anyone’s preferences.
I’ve made a few improvements to the original recipe which you can take or leave, like pan-frying the tofu to get some crispy edges that the sauce just clings to better. One change I really must insist you try, however, is the zippy sesame dressing. Tahini-based and perfectly zippy, it’s like a vegan Sriracha mayo, and it is everything when drizzled on these bowls.
What is a poké bowl?
Poké bowls (pronounced like poke-ay) are all the rage right now, and with good reason. Poké comes from a verb in the Hawaiian language which means to slice, section, or cut. Traditionally it’s marinated raw fish, but these days anything goes.
The poké (cut up things) is layered over sticky rice and topped with vegetables and a tasty sauce. These vegan poké bowls are most definitely not traditional Hawaiian poké bowls, but they're delicious and I think that's what matters most.
What’s in these poké bowls?
I’m willing to bet most of the ingredients are things you’ve already got on hand. Here’s what we’ve got going on:
- Rice --> we're going with short-grain brown rice today.
- Rice vinegar –-> to season the rice.
- Tofu –-> I used a nice firm tofu.
- Massed kale –->for a hefty dose of greens
- Mango –-> Adds tang!
- Cucumber --> Adds crunch!
- Radishes --> Adds bite!
- Edamame --> Another member of the protein squad.
- Avocado --> Because, obviously.
- Cilantro --> Optional, for the cilantro lovers in the house.
- Tahini dressing --> This is our vegan Sriracha mayo thing.
- Pickled ginger --> I like the fresh kick this adds.
- Furikake sprinkles --> Optional, but delicious.
How do you make poke bowls?
Hand on my heart, I’m telling you the single most difficult part of making these poke bowls is cooking the rice.
I used my Instant Pot to make a big batch of brown rice, and it was great because not only was the rice perfectly cooked, but I didn’t need to babysit it, so I was able to throw it on and take my kids out to the playground for a bit. (I used these instructions for Instant Pot Brown Rice)
Once the rice is cooked, I like to season it by lightly sprinkling with seasoned rice vinegar. This is optional, but delicious, so do what you will.
If you’re going to pan-fry your tofu, you can do this while the rice is cooking. But you can also totally leave the tofu plain and just toss it in the marinade.
To pan fry, cube the tofu and heat some oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan (I use olive oil, but sesame is also nice). Cook over a medium-high heat, turning the tofu cubes now and then, until they’re nicely browned on all sides.
Now you want to make your dressings
I used a homemade (and terribly inauthentic) ponzu dressing as the marinade for the tofu, and it's also what I used to massage the kale. My version of ponzu is simply whisking together sesame oil, lime juice, rice vinegar, agave, and soy sauce, and it takes two minutes to whisk together.
The second dressing is the dreamy vegan Sriracha "mayo" that we're drizzling over our vegan poké bowls. This is simply a blend of tahini, lemon juice, garlic, agave, and Sriracha.
Pro tip: If two dressings seems like a lot, by all means use a store-bought ponzu dressing to marinate the tofu. Or you can skip the tofu marinating altogether since you'll be drizzling with the tahini sauce, but I do find that it tastes pretty bland in that case.
Cook the edamame
Cook the edamame beans according to package directions. I bring a pot of water to the boil, salt it generously, and add the beans. Reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes, then drain well.
Prep the veggies
This is where you get your poké on! Chop and slice your mango, cucumber, and radishes.
I recommend that you leave the avocado for the last minute, since it tends to go brown quite quickly.
Now assemble your bowls!
You can see how I made them in the photos above.
Start with a bed of rice. Add a handful of massaged kale, then the tofu, vegetables, edamame, mango, and lastly the avocado.
Top with cilantro, furikake sprinkles, and a good drizzle of vegan sriracha mayo.
Can I make poke bowls in advance?
Rather than making the bowls in advance, I recommend you prepare the ingredients in advance and then assemble the bowls when you’re ready to serve.
You can batch cook the brown rice (related: batch cooking for beginners), tofu, edamame, and chop the vegetables. Only the avocado really needs to be prepped at the last minute.
I packed leftover poke bowls for my lunch, and by the end of the week the rice was getting quite dry and kinda meh, so I recommend adding fresh or batch cooked rice (from the freezer) when you make your bowls.
Can I substitute x, y, or z?
Yes, yes, and yes! Your vegan poké bowls are only limited by your imagination.
Be sure to check out my post about how to make a meal bowl without a recipe for meal bowl tips, tricks, and inspiration.
Hey Nutrition Lady, is brown rice healthy?
Did you know that the process of converting brown rice to white rice destroys 60 - 80% of the vitamins and minerals, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids?
Think of white rice like cake, it's a special occasion food and should be eaten in moderation. Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole food with a myriad of health benefits from colon health to cholesterol lowering! Brown rice is a source of dietary fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and tryptophan.
Other meal bowls you might enjoy:
Vegan Poké Bowls
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar optional
- ½ bunch lacinato kale destemmed and cut into thin ribbons
- 4 oz firm tofu cut into cubes
- ½ medium cucumber sliced
- 4 radishes thinly sliced
- 1 avocado peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 1 medium mango peeled and cubed
- 6 oz edamame beans cooked according to package instructions
- 2 ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoon honey or other liquid sweetener
- 2 teaspoon soy sauce or liquid aminos
Vegan Sriracha "Mayo"
- ¼ cup runny tahini paste
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar or other liquid sweetener
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- First, prepare the rice. Sprinkle the cooked brown rice with rice vinegar and toss with a fork. Set aside while you're preparing the rest of the ingredients.
- If desired, you can pan-fry the tofu. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and fry, turning every couple of minutes, until the tofu is browned on all sides.
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the ponzu sauce and whisk well. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
- Place the shredded lacinato kale into a small bowl and spoon a bit of the ponzu dressing over top. Use clean hands to massage the dressing into the kale, and then set aside while you're prepping the rest of the ingredients.
- Place the cubed tofu into the bowl with the remaining ponzu dressing and let stand for 5 minutes, or as long as overnight.
- Cook the edamame beans according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- To assemble, first place the rice into two serving bowls. Arrange the marinated kale and tofu over top, followed by the remaining ingredients. Garnish with cilantro and furikake sprinkles if desired.
- To serve, drizzle generously with vegan Sriracha mayo. Enjoy!
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
- Prep time assumes the brown rice is already cooked.
- Ponzu dressing and marinated kale and tofu can be made up to a day in advance, as can the Sriracha mayo and the edamame beans.
- If you're making this for packed lunches, leave the avocado off until ready to serve.
This recipe was originally published January 24, 2017. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated on February 4, 2020.