Inspired by Ken’s Fresh Fish on the North Shore of Oahu, this tuna poke bowl (or shoyu poke) requires only a handful of simple ingredients, a few minutes of hands-on cooking time, and yields exceptionally delicious results. The secret to great poke is using high-quality fish. Look for a fish market or specialty grocer in your city that sells sushi-grade tuna. High-quality fish isn’t cheap, but the results are well worth it.

tuna poke bowl

What exactly is sushi-grade fish and is it safe to eat? Even though it’s an unregulated term, sushi-grade fish generally means fish that is safe to eat raw. Sushi-grade fish must undergo a series of flash freezes for a specific time and temperature to kill parasites. Farmed salmon and tuna are the most common sushi-grade fish readily available, as they typically contain fewer parasites to begin with. Suffice it to say, sushi-grade fish purchased from a reputable source and handled appropriately (i.e. kept frozen as long as possible before ready to eat) is safe.

What is shoyu poke?

Poke (pronounced poh-kay) means “to cut” in Hawaiian and is a traditional Hawaiian dish consisting of freshly caught fish seasoned with seaweed and sea salt. The arrival of rice and soy sauce (shoyu) to the islands transformed this early form of poke into what we now know as shoyu poke – cubed raw ahi tuna along with sweet and green onions all marinated in a gingery soy sauce and served over warm white rice. Simple is best when it comes to authentic Hawaiian poke – plentiful toppings found in poke bowls stateside aren’t traditional at all. A tuna poke bowl done right lets the fish speak for itself.

Fish markets and local grocery stores are often the best places to find the best poke in Hawaii. You’ll often find big glass display cases filled with several different kinds of amazingly fresh poke. Buy a scoop of Hawaiian-style poke with shoyu, wasabi, spicy mayo, or miso along with a side of warm rice and seaweed or cucumber salad for a deliciously authentic Hawaiian experience.

How to Make a Tuna Poke Bowl

Simplicity is the name of the game for a great tuna poke bowl. Here’s the plan:

  • Cook the rice. And keep it warm. The contrasting combo of warm rice and cold, fresh fish is ultra-traditional and, honestly, quite nice.
  • Make the dressing. Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon, sugar, garlic, and ginger. You’ll definitely want to use a microplane for the ginger and garlic on this one.
  • Slice the onion. Ken’s keeps their onions at about 1/3″ thick, others go with a shaved onion. You do you.
  • Let it marinate. Combine the dressing, onions, and cubed tuna, and let it hang out for at least 15 minutes. This should be enough to let the tuna develop some seriously delicious flavor, but a longer soak is definitely not a bad idea (in the fridge, of course). Because we’re working with raw fish, we recommend eating the poke within 24 hours for safety and freshness.

More Dinner Ideas

Tuna Poke Bowl (Shoyu Poke)

Brooke Eliason
Servings: 4 servings
Total Time: 30 mins
Inspired by Ken’s Fresh Fish on Oahu, this tuna poke bowl uses only a few ingredients and yields exceptionally delicious results.


  • 4 cups cooked Japanese rice, warm
  • 1 lb. sushi-grade tuna
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • Juice of ½ of lemon
  • teaspoon sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely grated
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • ½ medium sweet onion or yellow onion
  • 2 green onion stems, green parts thinly sliced
  • pinch salt (if using low sodium soy sauce)


  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the poke. Cut the tuna into 1-inch cubes and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, sugar, grated garlic, and grated ginger. Taste the mixture and add additional salt if needed (especially if using a low-sodium soy sauce).
  • Halve the ½ medium yellow onion and slice into ⅓-inch slices. Add the sliced yellow onion, green onion, and tuna to the soy sauce mixture and gently toss to combine. Allow the poke to sit for 15-30 minutes before serving, or up to 24 hours (poke is best served the same day that it’s prepared). If not serving within the hour, store the poke in the refrigerator.
  • Divide the rice equally between four bowls, then top with the poke. Serve immediately.

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