Going from a conventional diet to a vegan diet can be challenging. When preparing food for a meat-based diet, the vegetables, greens, beans and pulses would often play a supporting role to animal proteins. They were never really given the proper attention to make them truly delicious. When making the life-changing decision to go vegan, one quickly has to adapt to making veggie dishes that, given the choice, a meat-eater would pick to eat of their own choice (despite the dreaded vegan tofu labels!).This vegan tofu poke bowl recipe will inspire readers to take a leap and embrace vegan cooking – and not be resigned to accepting that vegan cuisine and tasty food are mutually exclusive.
Another difficulty is that often, the word vegan also goes hand-in-hand with the word healthy – a lot of people take healthy to be a punishment almost, so many recipes which are out there end up putting vegan, healthy and bland in the same bucket. There is absolutely no reason that you cannot enjoy a vegan meal without feeling like you are eating cardboard – the fact is, there are so many delicious and varied preparations of veggies that you could pull together any number of dishes with ease – that you would choose to eat whether you were vegan or not.
The last principle of vegan cooking is variety – part of the experience in any cuisine is being able to experience a number of different flavours to keep your palate alive and buzzing. We also did not want to create something which a newbie to the kitchen would baulk at and refuse to try because it took too much effort and time. The dishes have to be simple and easy with a handful of ingredients – it has to be if you’re trying to pull together a six-piece menu on a Tuesday evening at 10pm. It becomes almost an intense exercise in project management, which, once you have nailed the sequences, becomes a zen-like flow.
The goal is not to make great vegan foods that are easy enough to prepare, but to make great food that is easy to prepare that happens to be vegan. No tall order then!
Things to Note When Preparing a Vegan Poke Bowl at Home
Without trying to state the obvious, some dishes you will want to prepare are just not possible to create in the space of five minutes – for example, a vegetable pickle may take a few days to get to the ideal level of ‘pickledness’. Don’t be a hero, plan ahead and just prepare an assortment of items in the fridge for consumption at any given point so that if you are going to prepare a variety bowl on a Tuesday night, you only really need to prepare some items at that time.
For those of you familiar with Alton Brown of Food Network and Iron Chef fame, this mantra was “preparation will set you free” – carry this with you and ensure you have as much meal prep done ahead of time so that you don’t need to faff when actually getting down to the cooking itself. Make sure you have those ingredients to hand which you intend to work with (nothing worse than trying to make a mango salad without mango!), keep some staples around the house, and you’re set!
Moving on to the intensity of variety that you may want, I think there is a balance to be struck between pragmatism and flavour in choosing the number of items to prepare. Twenty items for a single bowl can be a bit much – too much confusion of tastes and flavours and generally too much hassle and cleaning up to justify making all these items. The sweet spot I find is six items – a base (rice or the like), a sauce or dressing, a couple of raw greens or salads, a cooked green and a cooked non-green item (beans, pulses, tofu etc…).
As with all the other recipes coming out of Dukes Kitchen, the idea is to give you the guiding principles and for you to make an informed decision about the approach you want to take in preparing a meal. A six-piece bowl may require you to summon your inner Gordon Ramsay, which is more concentration than anyone might care to muster on a weekday, or it could be the case that your inner foodie won’t get out of bed for less than eight items. Find your own sweet spot.
Another thing to note is that practice makes perfect. The first time you attempt a dish, it may take you an extra five or ten minutes to get the sequence right, to get the cutting of the ingredients right, or just generally to find your flow, particularly if preparing multiple dishes. The more you try something and become accustomed to its nuances and timing, the more confident and creative you can become. Whereas you may have needed measuring cups to measure out your ingredients before, you may be able to eyeball it now and save yourself minutes per dish. With the right level of practice anyone can pull together a decent, tasty vegan meal.
Constructing Your Own Vegan Poke Bowl
So, here comes the “recipe” bit of this post. As said before, our magic number to balance the variety and practicality of preparing this vegan poke is six, that is:
- A Base – rice (white basmati rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, Thai sticky rice), quinoa, buckwheat. If you don’t fancy a grain, try switching them out for arepas (South American / Venezuelan flatbread made from corn) or just good old rice noodles.
- 1 Dressing – a cooked sauce, raw dressing or some condiment to add some moisture and bring all the ingredients together.
- 2 Raw Greens or Non-Green Vegetables – try any variety of raw or uncooked greens or vegetables. This is a good opportunity to pull together some tasty little dishes with minimal effort or even better, have them prepared ahead of time. Think of lightly brined vegetables, ginger or onions pickled in rice vinegar, salads, coleslaw.
- 1 Cooked Green – by cooking the vegetables or greens, you introduce a new dimension of temperature, flavour and texture. Cooking your greens doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to any trouble either – just cut a few bite-sized pieces of leek or spring onion / green onions into the oven and you’re sorted! Try some steamed bok choi or choi sum with crispy garlic or shallots, or some sauteed spinach with garlic and chilli – each takes a few minutes to prepare and can be made using frozen ingredients.
- 1 Cooked Non-Green – as you’ll have gathered by now, variety is the spice of life and whilst greens can be fantastic by themselves, we do enjoy that ‘something else’ as part of the dish. Our go-to is tofu (roasted, marinated or fried crispy – your pick!), but any pulses or beans can make a great addition to any dish.
- And if you are feeling a bit crazy, why not go for a bonus item – only add this kind of thing if it is readily available, but basically think anything else that would add some pop to the overall dish in terms of texture or flavour, or even just a variety of proteins. A spoon of crunchy peanut butter or roasted nuts make a great accompaniment to the dish. If you have any available, why not try some natto (traditional Japanese fermented soybeans) or crispy shallots, or half an avocado.
A Dukes Kitchen Tofu Poke Bowl Recipe
This tofu poke is not a traditional poke bowl recipe in that it is not based on sushi rice with the traditional fish (certainly not a Hawaiian poke), but it is more of an interpretation of a poke bowl. If you embrace this as what it is meant to be, a tasty vegan variety bowl with tofu and some insanely aromatic garlic basmati rice, it would be difficult to argue that it is not delicious (if it is not a poke bowl), and can hold a candle to any tofu poke bowls.
|Base||Our garlic basmati rice.|
|Dressing||Our raw satay dressing is a play on a Dutch-Indonesian classic oorlog sauce – travel to the bustling streets of Amsterdam without leaving the comfort of your home!|
|Raw greens / Salad #1||Our first salad is our cucumber and spring onion salad, a simple, bright and tasty salad made with cucumber and spring onion with a squeeze of orange.|
|Raw greens / Salad #2||Our next salad is our vegan mango salad – a heady mix of fruit, herb and avocado.|
|Cooked Green||No recipe necessary for this one – just vertically quarter a leek and cut into bite-sized lengths, a sprinkle of oil and salt and blast in the oven for 15-20 minutes.|
|Cooked Non-Green||The star of the dish is our Asian Garlic Tofu with Tamari Glaze, a favourite amongst our gluten free tofu recipes.|
- 400g Firm or Extra Firm Tofu
- ¼ Cup Honey
- 2 Teaspoons / 4 Cloves Minced Garlic
- ¼ Cup Tamari / Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
- 2 Stalks Finely Chopped Spring Onion
- 1 Teaspoon Sesame Seeds (optional)
1. The first step is to remove any excess liquid from the tofu and firm up its texture. Take the tofu out of its packet and pat dry, then wrap the tofu in an absorbent or moisture-wicking cloth or paper towel. Lay the covered tofu in a dish - you should look to allow the excess water to drain away from the tofu and not have the tofu sit around in its liquid, so you may wish to place the tofu on an upside-down bowl in the larger dish or place the tofu on a wire rack inside the dish. Next, take another heavy pot (or even better, a cast iron skillet) and place this on the tofu, and place additional weight inside the pot (a few cans should do the trick - the more weight you add, the more water will be pressed out of the tofu). Leave the tofu to drain for some time, at least ten minutes, but ideally half an hour to an hour.
2. Mix the garlic, honey, tamari and sesame oil in a sealable container and give it a shake to mix. Cut the now drained tofu into cubes (based on your preference and the size of the tofu block you have - I normally go for two centimetres to one inch each side). Place cubed tofu into the container, ensuring that all pieces are submerged. Marinate the tofu in the fridge, ideally for at least two hours.
3. When your tofu is ready (it should have taken on a darker colour and taken some of the flavour of the marinade), remove it from the marinating liquid and pat the cubes of tofu dry. Bring the reserved marinade to a simmer in a pot over medium heat and reduce until thickened. Baste the tofu cubes in the thickened marinade.
4. Place the tofu cubes on an oven tray and roast in a pre-heated oven at 200C or 390F (180C/350F in a fan oven) until the baste has set and caramelised on the tofu cubes (about 20 minutes). Garnish with sesame seeds and spring onion and serve hot.
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- ¼ cup rapeseed oil
- 2 heavy pinches salt
- 2 stalks spring onion
- 3½ cups water
- Place basmati rice in mesh sieve and run under cold water until water runs clear. Run your fingers through the rice to ensure that the water reaches all or most grains of rice.
- Heat rapeseed oil over a medium flame. Add minced garlic and pinch of salt and fry until golden - be careful not to go too far beyond this stage as burnt garlic will make the oil taste bitter. Carefully spoon out the fried garlic, leaving the oil in the pot.
- Bring the oil back to medium heat and introduce the basmati rice. Stir to coat the rice until all the oil is absorbed and there is none left at the bottom of the pot.
- Add the cold water to the pot of rice that has just been coated in oil, along with a heavy pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil over a medium heat, then turn down to a low heat for a bare simmer and cover the pot with a lid. When the water has evaporated, turn off the heat and set aside the rice for a further 10 minutes to allow the rice to steam.
- When the rice has steamed, use a fork to fluff up the rice. Add in the reserved golden garlic pieces and the chopped spring onion, and salt to taste. Lightly mix everything together, taking care not to break the grains of cooked rice.
- Serve and enjoy as a dish on its own, as part of a lunch bowl or as a complementary side dish!
- ¼ Cup Crunchy Peanut Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- ⅛ Cup Soy Sauce (or tamari)
- 1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 Teaspoon / 2 Cloves Minced Garlic
- 1 Teaspoon Minced Ginger
- 1 Teaspoon Chilli Flakes
- ⅛ Cup Honey
- ⅛ Cup Water
- ¼ Cup Finely Chopped Red Onion (optional, but highly recommended)
- Put the peanut butter, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce (or tamari), ginger, garlic, honey and chilli flakes in a jar. Shake the mix until combined.
- Use as a marinade or a dressing, serve with finely chopped red onions.
- 4 Stalks Spring Onions
- Small Piece Ginger
- 3 Inch Piece Cucumber
- ¼ Whole Orange
- Salt To Taste
- Wash and remove the dry outer leaves of the spring onions. Cut the roots off the spring onions and then cut the greens above the first split in the stalk. Cut the remaining stalks into two (about matchstick size length), then cut each stalk into quarters vertically along the stalk. This should not take more than 5 minutes. Soak the freshly cut spring onion in cold water to reduce the sharp onion taste and acidity for ten minutes or whilst you prepare the other ingredients.
- Cut off the hard green exterior of the cucumber to reveal the pale flesh. Avoiding the seeded watery interior, cut lengths of cucumber similar to the spring onion and set aside.
- Cut a very thin slice of ginger, turn and cut very thin ribbons of ginger similar in size to the cucumber and the spring onion.
- Drain the spring onions, and add the pieces of ginger and cucumber to the bowl. Cut a wedge of orange and squeeze the juice from the orange over the salad. Salt to taste. The dish is ready to serve!
- 1 ripe but firm mango
- 1 medium/large avocado
- 20 gram bunch of coriander
- ¼ whole orange
- Salt to taste
- Take the bunch of coriander (stalks and all), roll it up and finely chop - you don’t want to have large chunks getting stuck in your teeth but you do want to see the odd leaf in there. Set aside for use later.
- Cut the flesh out from a mango and cut it into small equal-sized chunks (for reference, the chunks should be the same size as those from the avocado, so try to shoot for that). Mango has a large seed inside, so my preferred method to cut out the flesh is to stand up the mango, cut down along either side of the seed to give you two fleshy chunks - using a small knife, cut vertical and horizontal scores along the flesh of the mango, then use a spoon or a knife to release the cubes from the skin of the mango (there are some wild YouTube videos of people using glasses to do this - but just do whatever works for you). Set the mango aside in a bowl for later use.
- Cut the avocado in two, remove the large seed with the heel of your knife, and using a similar technique to that for the mango, cut horizontal and vertical lines in the flesh of the avocado, and extract the flesh of the avocado using a spoon. Place the avocado in the bowl.
- Take your segment of orange and squeeze the juice of the orange over the avocado and mango mix, give it a stir (the acid in the orange will stop the avocado from discolouring). Add in salt to taste, then slowly mix in the desired level of coriander. Taste and try as you go to find your sweet spot. The salad is ready to serve, and will keep in the fridge for a day or two without the avocado turning.
We hope you love this tofu poke bowl recipe and that it inspires you to try and make your own vegan poke bowl. Please leave your thoughts in the comments and let us know if you liked it or have suggestions on how to improve it.