How to Make a Poke Bowl at Home, in 5 Easy Steps
By Michael Nolledo / March 27, 2018 9:00 am

It’s easy to see why poke bowls— deconstructed sushi salads by way of Hawaii, for the unanointed — are everywhere in Chicago.

They’re healthy. They’re simple. They pack a kaleidoscope of flavors into every bite.

And they’re positively a thing you should be making at home.

How? By visiting Wixter Market in Wicker Park, the only seafood spot in the city that sells “super-frozen” fish.

Wixter Market/Galdones Photography

Before you ask, yes, frozen fish can be fresh.

Actually, “super-frozen” fish — a process in which the fish is frozen at peak freshness, about 70 degrees below zero on the day it’s caught — has become its own category these days. The strict preservation method retains the fish’s quality and taste, therefore making it perfect for enjoying raw.

It’s a life-changing hack, as we found out when we scored some Yellowfin Tuna and whipped up a batch of homemade poke this weekend.

Here’s how you can do the same in five easy steps.

1. Marinate your fish.
Once you pick up your frozen catch (a 12-ounce portion is more than enough for two servings), you’ll want to thaw it out overnight in the fridge. This is important. A proper thaw preserves not only taste, but also texture. Per Wixter, gather your marinade ingredients:

  • ¼ cup Shoyu
  • ½ bunch scallion, sliced on a bias
  • ½ inch knob of ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Pinch of Korean chili flake

Dice your 12-ounce portion of thawed tuna into bite-sized pieces. Add the tuna to the marinade and reserve in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, and up to six hours.

2. Decide on your base.
We opted for fluffy Arborio rice, but any short-grain rice will do. Feel free to experiment with grains of your liking: brown rice, farro and quinoa are all worthy substitutes. If you’re feeling particularly chipper, a bed of fresh greens may also work.

3. Choose a dressing.
It doesn’t need to be fancy. For the essence of time, we spruced up our bowl with ponzu sauce, but you can use Kewpie (Japanese mayo) or hell, a mix of Kewpie and sriracha sauce.  

4. Prepare your mix-ins.
Now, the fun part. As you would with a grain bowl, you can literally mix anything in here. Our recommendation: think of both flavor and texture. You want contrast and depth, but also balance. You’ll find our go-to list below, where you can toss in as much as you like:

  • Pickled ginger
  • Scallions
  • Avocado
  • Edamame beans
  • Red onion
  • Radish
  • Cucumber
  • Fried shallot
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Furikake

5. Assemble and enjoy. 
Start with your base and work from there. Top it with the dressing. Remember: time is of the essence. So eat it fresh as soon as possible. Given how delicious this fish is, however, we don’t think you’ll have a problem with that.