Sous Vide Beets With Seaweed for Easy Vegan ‘Poke’ Recipe

Sous Vide Beets With Seaweed for Easy Vegan ‘Poke’ Recipe

The appeal of the modern poke bowl recipes lies in their customizability. Pick a fish, pick a sauce, toss in a few pickled items, and you’ve got a colourful and inviting bowl of rice, protein, and vegetables. If you don’t eat fish, however, you might feel a little left out. So here’s a sous vide vegan poke recipe.

“Vegan poke” might seem antithetical to the spirit of the dish. After all, poke began as a one-ingredient dish, and that ingredient was fish. Fisherman would season their offcuts with whatever they had access to and eat it as a snack; there isn’t a vegan alternative to that.

A poke bowl offers a little more room for improvisation. Chain poke restaurants will sometimes offer tofu as a stand-in for fish, and Trader Joe’s recently started selling a beet-based vegan poke.

I haven’t tried the latter. According to the Trader Joe’s Mum Facebook group in which I lurk, it’s not good, but a tender and toothsome, slightly salty, bright pink bit of beet certainly looks the part, so I decided to make my own.

Rather than cook and then marinate the beets, I decided to use my immersion circulator and do both at the same time. I tossed cubed beets with a little soy sauce and sesame oil, then crumbled a four-ounce package of dried seaweed in the bag before sealing it all up and letting it hang out in a water bath set to 185℉.

The beets that came out of the vacuum bag were tender but not mushy — lightly savoury, with an earthy sweetness and a mild oceanic flavour, thanks to the seaweed. While it might be asking a little much of a vegetable that is pretending to be fish, I wanted to up the savouriness even more, so I add a few shakes of MSG to make the beets read a little meatier and allow them to serve as the star of the rice bowl, rather than compete with the other vegetables.

Why sous vide?

While you certainly could boil your beets, then toss them with a mixture of sesame oil, soy sauce, and all that other stuff, cooking them sous-vide streamlines it into a single step. The constant temperature of the bath gently cooks the beets to a perfectly tender and toothsome texture while gently infusing them with the flavours of the other ingredients. Once cooked, you can store the beets in the bag you cooked them in until you’re ready to make your bowl.

Sous-vide vegan beet poke recipe

What you need to make this sous-vide vegan poke recipe: 

  • 200 g beets, peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces (Use chioggia beets for a vegan poke that looks more like tuna.)
  • 11 g roasted seaweed sheets (one package at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • MSG for finishing

How to make this sous-vide vegan poke recipe: 

  1. Fill a tub or pot with water and clip your immersion circulator to the side. Set the temperature to 85°C. Toss the beets with the sesame oil and soy sauce, then crumble the seaweed and mix it in. Seal in a vacuum bag in a single layer. (Alternatively: Place in a quart-sized freezer bag and remove excess air with the water displacement method).
  2. Place the bag in the water bath and cook for at least one hour or up to three.
  3. Remove from the bath, dry the bag, and chill for at least an hour, until ready to serve. Season with a pinch or two of MSG to reach your desired level of savouriness. Serve over rice with your favourite poke accoutrement.

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