Photo by H G.
As someone who writes about how to make delicious food, I am all about DIY-ing your own versions of tasty, trendy dishes. In a lot of cases, a homemade version of something will taste better and cost you less money, but this is not the situation with the poke bowl.
I know it’s very rare that I tell you not to make something, but hear me out. The poke bowl — a delicious bowl of seasoned raw fish and other delights over sushi rice — is something you should eat, but I’d recommend leaving its construction to the professionals for several reasons:
Reason #1: You Need Really Good Fish, and Good Fish Is Expensive
Unless you live right on the water in a town where fresh fish runneth over, you are not going to be able to find the fish you need at a supermarket. I don’t live too far from the ocean — I live in Portland, Oregon — and even my fancy, hippy grocery store didn’t have fish that was fresh enough for eating raw.
Unlike ceviche, which is treated and “cooked” with acid. The fish you put in a poke bowl is truly raw, so you don’t want to skimp on quality. You can find it at a fish market, sure, but it’s still going to set you back, depending on which fish you want. For comparison, a fully constructed salmon poke bowl costs me less than $US12 ($15) at my nearest poke joint.
Reason #2: Sushi Rice
Do you know how to make perfect sushi rice? Fine, go forth and put it in a bowl and top it with expensive fish. But if you are just now honing your general rice-cooking skills, now is probably not the time to try and master sushi rice.
Reason #3: You’ll Probably End Up Buying a Lot of Extras
You can just make a poke bowl with really fresh fish, expertly made sushi rice, and a little shoyu, and it would be quite good, but a lot of poke bowl recipes call for add-ins like avocado, radish, onion, nori, cucumber, ponzu, sesame seeds, and chilli peppers. All of these things are delicious, and you can can very quickly end up with a surprisingly expensive grocery bill.
Reason #4: Avocado
Not only can avocados lead to a lifetime of renting, they are dangerous, and I don’t want you to end up with a case of avocado hand. (I will admit this reason is a little weak; just learn to cut an avocado properly.)
Obviously, if you really want to make your own poke bowl, have access to really good fish, and aren’t afraid of tackling sushi rice, go forth, my child. But you shouldn’t feel bad about not making your own. Not everything needs to be homemade, and a poke restaurant is going to make you a better bowl for less cash. And that, my friends, is what it’s all about. (Sorry. That was hokey.)