Picture this: the sun is out, you've gathered a group of friends in the park, you're all looking forward to tucking in to a delicious al fresco lunch and as you take a bite out of your pre-made sarnie/wrap/salad, you soon realise it's a soggy mess of what were once fresh and vibrant ingredients. We've all been there. Our solution? Why not ditch traditional picnic faves (hear us out) and order a nourishing bowl of poké, freshly made for you, or take inspiration from our favourite restaurants and make your own, with no wilting lettuce or warm tomatoes in sight.
Traditionally made using marinated chopped ahi tuna and seasoned short-grain rice, poké bowls are super fresh, satisfying and healthy - and thanks to a handful of dedicated poké restaurants and pop-ups making their mark on the food scene, there are endless ways you can enjoy this popular Hawaiian dish. We turned to some of our friends in the know for their top tips on making your poké picnic the best it can be this Summer so what are you waiting for? Ready, set, poké
Tom, founder of Lords of Poke (Peckham Levels, KERB) says, "understandably unless you’re taking a cool box with ice packs, you may not want to hit the park with expensive sashimi-grade raw fish. Instead I’d suggest perhaps making a tempeh poké bowl; our vegan Ginger Miso Tempeh bowl is vegan friendly, we just don’t finish it with our miso aioli. We’re always expanding our menu and we’ll be bringing some more exciting vegan bowls on to the menu this summer.
I love poké for all the reasons above, it’s everything I love about food, different textures, colours, fresh, vibrant flavours! Drawing on many cultural influences you can take it in a variety of directions. For me, you have to have a cubed element to be poké, after all it’s the Hawaiian verb to dice or section."
"Poké combines raw veg to give your meal a fresh light taste, and grains like quinoa and rice to sustain you for a day out in the sun", says the team behind Ahi Poké (above). "It's fresh, tasty and guilt free. Rather than being soaked in a sauce, poké uses marinated fish to compliment the flavours but allowing you to taste the vegetables, and isn't as overdone as the typical bland sandwich.
What we love about Poké is the diversity. From pineapple and avocado to hemp seeds and cabbage, poké can be pretty much anything thats raw, healthy and colourful. Compliment it with marinated fish laid on a bed of grains and the combinations are endless."
If you do want to go down the traditional route and use raw fish, we'd recommend making friends with your local fishmonger as they'll be able to prepare the fish (descale, debone, fillet etc) and advise on what's in season - let them know you'll be eating it raw, just incase.
Guy and Celia, authors of Poké: Hawaiian- Inspired Sushi Bowls add, "poké bowls are extremely customisable to suit specific tastes and dietary requirements; if catering for vegetarians sub out the tuna for chopped avocado and cubes of cooked sweet potato, or replace the rice with shredded spring greens. Choose local, seasonal produce, pick a marinade, throw in a pickle or crunchy topping and suddenly you have created your own bowl of sunshine."
This Tofu & Shiitake Poke recipe (image above), from the Poké: Hawaiian- Inspired Sushi Bowls book, is a great picnic hero dish; it requires minimal effort, tastes super fresh and is vegan to boot. Win win!
240g short-grain black rice
500g firm, fresh tofu
400g soy pickled shiitake (pg 69 in the book)
100ml sweet miso sauce (pg 89)
2 tbsp nori furikake (pg 93)
3 carrots, julienned
100g radishes, thinly sliced
50g shelled cooked edamame beans
5g dried wakame, rehydrated in cold water for 5 mins
Cook the rice as per the instructions and leave to cool. Drain the tofu, pat dry using paper towels, and slice into 1.5cm cubes. Set aside. Slice the pickled shiitake, removing the stalks and set aside. In a bowl, combine all the salad ingredients.
To serve, divide the rice among four recyclable bowls or tupperware. Top with the tofu, shiitake, a generous drizzle of miso dressing and furikake. Serve with the salad.