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A large vegan poke bowl filled with crispy tofu, loads of veggies, rice and topped with a sweet dynamite sauce!
One bite and this will be your flavorful nutritious go-to in a bowl!
What is a Vegan Poke Bowl
Poke bowls seem to be all the rage the last few years. After I had my first poke bowl I knew why they were so popular, they are absolutely delicious!
The poke bowls originate from Hawaii and have their flavor roots in Japanese sushi. The word "Poke" literally means cut into pieces. Poke began with Hawaiian fishermen seasoning the cut-offs of fish. Poke in the most literal terms is pieces of fish that are seasoned with soy sauce.
While I love poke bowls, the truth is I really love the sushi flavors that are in a poke bowl. However, the fish, I am not so fond of. To enjoy all the great flavors of a poke bowl, I substituted tofu for fish and made this a vegan poke bowl. The tofu is coated in corn starch, marinated in a soy wasabi sauce, and baked crispy. This makes the tofu the perfect complement to all the great traditional bowl flavors!
How to Make a Bowl
I think of vegan poke bowls similar to a trip to Chipotle. The ingredients are interchangeable based on your personal preferences. Much like a Chipotle bowl, build your poke bowl with five layers.
Rice - Layer 1
Rice is the foundation of a poke bowl. I personally love sticky rice. However sticky rice takes a full day to make, which is a long time for even me, a person dedicated to the slow cooking process. So for this, I used a shortcut and bought VeeTee Rice & Tasty Thai Jasmine. This rice is sticky and perfect for a poke bowl.
An alternative is to use a bowl of short white rice and add vinegar and sugar. Start by making 2 cups of rice. Then mix 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Microwave the vinegar and sugar combination until the sugar is dissolved (20 - 30 seconds). In a large bowl, mix the vinegar/sugar combination with 2 cups of rice. Let cool for five minutes and you have a great poke bowl rice.
Protein - Layer 2
Tofu is my protein of choice. I baked it and it was perfect. However if you prefer a different protein you could use a marinated packaged tofu, tempeh, jackfruit, or beans. This layer is interchangeable with your favorite protein.
Veggies - Layer 3
This bowl is loaded up with carrots, edamame, avocado, and red cabbage. The combination is delicious! Other veggies (and fruits) that would taste delicious include: cucumbers, radishes, pineapple, mango, and green onion. Really, the sky is the limit. Have fun and get creative with favors!
Dressing - Layer 4
I was craving dynamite sauce, however, I get that is not everyone's favorite sauce. Substitutes include tahini or white miso dressing.
Zazz - Layer 5
Top off your bowl with some zazz. I sprinkled this bowl with nori (dried seaweed), other zazz includes jalapeÃ±os, sesame seeds, pickled ginger, and/or fried onion.
Tofu is one of those ingredients that takes some practice to get used to making. If you're new to tofu, do not fear, it's actually easier than you might think. If making tofu is not your thing, you can buy flavored tofu at the store. I get it and no judgment!
Buying tofu -
When buying tofu you must decide the type of firmness tofu you prefer - medium, firm, extra firm are the most common types. I only ever buy the extra firm. However, this is 100% a personal preference. My all-time favorite brand of tofu comes from Trader Joe's. They have the firmest tofu I have ever found and it is perfect to cook with.
Pressing tofu -
Tofu comes in water and in order to achieve maximum flavor, the water has to be removed. This can only be achieved by "pressing" it out. There are several different methods and it can seem overwhelming. However, my recommendation is to not overthink it. It's actually about placing something heaving and forcing the water out of the tofu block.
My two suggestions are
#1 - Place a towel over the tofu and place something heavy on top, like a cast iron pan or a regular pan. Then place something heavy in the pan, like cans of food, and let the tofu sit for 30 - 60 minutes.
#2 - My second suggestion is to buy a tofu press. A tofu press is two pieces of plastic or bamboo that are held together with screws. The press is placed on its side and then the scores are tightened even 3 - 5 minutes for 15 - 30 minutes. I personally prefer the press and I use this one.
How to prepare the tofu -
When making tofu you have to decide how to prepare it. The most common ways are baking, stovetop, and frying. All three have their merits. I personally prefer to bake tofu because it is so much cleaner. It's like cooking your root vegetables on the stovetop or oven roasting. I will choose oven roasting every time!
Corn starch -
Corn starch is the key to making tofu just that crispy. This is a personal preference, but this is the only way I like my tofu. Extra-firm and crispy, but not fried crispy, that's a little different.
To apply the corn starch you can toss it or dust it. Both ways have pros and cons. By tossing the tofu in corn starch you get an even coat. However, you have to be very gentle because the tofu can start to crumble. If you dust the tofu with corn starch, you will be able to coat the tofu on top and on the sides, but the bottom will not be coated. I prefer to dust the tofu to keep the tofu from crumbling and maintain the visual appeal.
The great thing about tofu, it is a flavor conductor. It picks up the flavor of what you marinate or cook with it. For this poke bowl, I used the flavors I dip sushi in, soy sauce, and lots of wasabi! The flavor was fantastic. If that's not your taste preference, you can use hoisin, miso, or teriyaki sauce to name a few.
Pinch of Yum has an excellent video about making tofu. Click here to watch on how to prepare and four different ways to make tofu. This is a great video and will help prepare you into making tofu.
Vegan Poke Bowl Storage
To store, place in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. I would recommend removing the avocado. While it can last, I think they are always best fresh.
In the mood for something else? Try one of my other favorite bowls, winter roasted veggie bowl.
Vegan Poke Bowl Topped with Dynamite Sauce
- Baking sheet
- Large bowl
- 1 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 cup edamame, shelled
- 1 avocado, sliced thin
- 1 cup red cabbage, sliced thin
- ½ tofu block, cube
- 4-6 sheets nori, crumbled (optional)
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon wasabi paste (optional)
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Â¼ cup veganaise
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- Â½ teaspoon rice vinegar
- Press the tofu to remove the water. Once the water has been removed, cut the tofu into small cubes.
- Toss or dust the tofu in corn starch.
- Mix the sauce (rice vinegar, soy sauce, wasabi, and garlic) and pour over the tofu. Sit for 5 - 10 minutes.
- Arrange tofu on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the tofu at 425 for 25 - 30 minutes until tofu is crispy on the edges.
- Prepare rice as directed.
- (Optional) Microwave vinegar and sugar until sugar is dissolved (20 - 30 seconds)
- Mix rice with the vinegar and sugar. Stand until cool.
- Combine veganaise, sriracha and rice vinegar.
- Place one cup of rice in each bowl. Begin to layer each bowl with tofu and prepared veggies. Top with Dynamite dressing and nori (optional).