I loved making this watermelon tuna poke bowl! Baked watermelon chunks are combined with creamy avocado, sushi rice, pickles, seaweed, vegan caviar and a ponzu dressing! This is a fun dish to make, absolutely delicious and perfect to enjoy on a warm Spring or Summer day.
What is a poke bowl?
I’ve never had a poke bowl or put that much thought into poke in general, until I read through my April 2016 issue of Bon Appétit and saw this gorgeous tuna poke bowl. I’ve baked watermelon before, I could sub that for the tuna. And I’ve made amaranth caviar before, I could sub that for the tobiko. Everything else looked already vegan, fresh and delicious, so I was suddenly very interested in poke. I was hoping it would all come together nicely, and it did!
What’s in this vegan poke bowl?
There are crunchy and jalepeno-kissed pickles, rich cubed avocado, crisp sliced scallions, plump seaweed, fluffy sushi rice, creamy and spicy mayo, and a delicate but flavorful ponzu dressing. All of these things work together to create a super fresh and colorful bowl that’s worth all of the prep work. Here’s BA‘s recipe, which I loosely followed, and you can find here.
How watermelon tuna is made
But you are probably still wondering about the watermelon tuna! Baking bite-sized chunks of watermelon, then allowing them to cool and marinate in the rice vinegar creates something that looks just like tuna and feels just like tuna. However, it doesn’t quite taste like tuna, but still works well here. I’ve made pan-seared watermelon before, and super pleased with the results!
The vinegar does two things: it helps neutralize the intense sweetness released when baking the watermelon, then continues to “cook” and deepen the color once cooled. The end result is an amazing texture that is worth the one-hour bake time. 🙂
The amaranth caviar adds a nice visual element too, and works really well with the rice and sambal-mayo here. As the weather warms up here in LA, I plan to make this often!
Check out these recipes for more vegan seafood ideas!
Vegan Scallops in Pasta with a Mint-Pea PureePrint
Vegan Poke Bowl
- Total Time: 26 hours
- Yield: 2 servings
- Diet: Vegan
This watermelon tuna poke bowl is packed with flavor and made from completely vegan ingredients! This is fun to make and perfect to enjoy on a warm day.
for the watermelon tuna
- 1 1/2 pound of bite-sized watermelon cubes
- 4 TB olive oil
- 4 TB rice vinegar
for the amaranth caviar
- 1/3 cup amaranth
- 2 cups beet juice
for the sushi rice
- 1 cup sushi rice, soaked for 30 minutes then rinsed well
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 TB rice vinegar
- 1 TB sugar
- 1 tsp salt
for the pickles
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 TB sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced on a mandoline
- 1 jalepeno, sliced on a mandoline
for the seaweed
- 2 TB hijiki seaweed
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 TB mirin
- 1 TB soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
for the ponzu dressing
- 1/2 grapefruit, juiced
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 2 TB mirin
- 1 TB soy sauce
- pinch salt
for the sambal mayo
- 1/3 cup vegan mayo
- 2 TB sambal, or more (or less) to taste
- 1–2 scallions, sliced
- 1 avocado, cubed
to make the watermelon tuna
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Drizzle the bottom of a large pyrex with 2 TB of the olive oil. Place the watermelon cubes into the pyrex a single layer, then drizzle the remaining 2 TB olive oil over the top.
- Place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, stir to coat and flip the watermelon, then drizzle with the rice vinegar. Stir again to coat, then place back into the oven for about 20 minutes more, checking it after 15 minutes to ensure that the edges do not brown.
- Let it cool in the pyrex, then scrape the watermelon and liquid into a container. Cover and place into the refrigerator. The olive oil and vinegar will continue to soften and “cook” the watermelon.
- Allow to marinate for 12-24 hours. Before serving, allow it to come to room temperature, drain and then serve.
to make the amaranth caviar
- Combine the amaranth and beet juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer, covering partially with a lid, for 22-24 minutes.
- Transfer everything into a container and place into the refrigerator to allow the color to penetrate overnight.
to make the sushi rice
Place the rice and water into a rice cooker. Once done, season with the rice vinegar, sugar and salt, then keep warm in the rice cooker until ready to serve.
to make the pickles
Combine the water and vinegar together in a bowl. Whisk in the sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Add the cucumber and jalepeno and stir gently to coat. Allow to marinate for about 30 minutes.
to make the seaweed
Soak the hijiki in water for 30 minutes. Drain, then season with the mirin and soy sauce, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Set aside.
to make the ponzu dressing
Combine the grapefruit and lime juice, soy sauce, mirin and salt. Set aside.
to make the sambal mayo
Combine the vegan mayo and desired amount of sambal. Set aside.
Divide the rice between two bowls. Top with the pickles, dollop with the sambal-mayo, then the watermelon tuna, and drizzle with the ponzu. Then add the cubed avocado, seaweed, scallions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Marinating Time: 24 hours
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Lunch, Dinner
- Method: Baked, Boiled, Marinated, Pickled
- Cuisine: Hawaiian, American
Keywords: vegan poke, watermelon tuna, watermelon poke bowl, vegetarian poke
Amy Katz from Veggies Save The Day says
Erin, this is amazing! I am sitting here eating some cubed watermelon, thinking it resembles raw tuna, so I Googled watermelon poke, and up pops your recipe. I don’t know how I missed it on Instagram. Anyway, I am so excited to try your recipe. With all the poke restaurants in SoCal, I keep seeing posts from my non-vegan friends with pics of their poke bowls. Now I can make my own that’s cruelty- and mercury-free!
I love your recipes and photographs so much. You are so talented.
Hi Amy! Thanks so much for your sweet comment, it made my day! I hope you love the watermelon tuna, the texture is so interesting! xo
Maikki | Maikin mokomin says
Wow! This recipe is genius 🙂
I have to admit that I neither like tuna nor water melon. But this looks so extraordinary and I’d love to try it. Your recipes are always such an inspiration!
Thanks so much, Mihl! 🙂 Luckily, once baked, this resembles neither, but something different entirely … I hope you enjoy it!
On more reason to try then!
May sound like a dumb question but, ripe watermelon? Also the regular red seedless? Thanks!
Spazv, not at all! I used pre-cut watermelon. They had a few seeds here and there, but I just picked them out!
I never would have thought to use watermelon like that ? It’s hard to find watermelon where I live right now, but I’m definitely going to try this out soon!
Amanda, it’s crazy how much the texture changes with baking and marinating!