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A vegan poke bowl.

Vegan Poke Bowl with Watermelon Tuna

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: erin wysocarski
  • Total Time: 26 hours
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Diet: Vegan


Wave goodbye to the ordinary with this vegan poke bowl, where watermelon tuna turns the tide on traditional flavors. Packed with zest and zing from ponzu to pickles, this bowl is a plant-based paradise, perfect for spicing up lazy summer evenings or adding some sunshine to your dinner table.


for the watermelon tuna

  • 1 1/2 pound of bite-sized watermelon cubes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons 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 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tseaspoon salt

for the pickles

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, sliced on a mandoline
  • 1 jalepeno, sliced on a mandoline

for the seaweed

  • 2 tablespoons hijiki seaweed
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon sesame seeds

for the ponzu dressing

  • 1/2 grapefruit, juiced
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • pinch salt

for the sambal mayo

  • 1/3 cup vegan mayo
  • 2 tablespoons sambal, or more (or less) to taste

to serve

  • 12 scallions, sliced
  • 1 avocado, cubed


to make the watermelon tuna

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drizzle the bottom of a large pyrex with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the watermelon cubes into the pyrex a single layer, then drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the top.
  3. Place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Transfer everything into a container and place it 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 the desired amount of sambal. Set aside.

to serve

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.


Storage Tips:

Watermelon Tuna: Store the marinated watermelon tuna in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The flavors will continue to develop, but it’s best eaten within the first 24 hours for optimal texture.

Sushi Rice: Keep cooked sushi rice in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To refresh the rice before serving, sprinkle a little water over it and briefly microwave it covered.

Amaranth Caviar and Pickles: These can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to 3 days. Their flavors tend to enhance over time, making them even more delicious after a day or two.

Ponzu Dressing and Sambal Mayo: Store both in separate airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days Shake or stir well before using again as ingredients may settle or separate.

Expert Tips:

Balancing Flavors: For the best flavor balance, adjust the amount of ponzu and sambal mayo according to your taste. Start with less dressing and add more as needed to avoid overpowering the delicate flavors of the watermelon tuna and vegetables.

Serving Suggestion: For an impressive presentation, chill the bowls before assembling the poke. This keeps the ingredients fresh and crisp, especially during warm weather.

Customizing Your Bowl: Encourage customization by offering a variety of additional toppings like toasted sesame seeds, sliced radishes, or microgreens for extra crunch and flavor.

Marinating Watermelon Tuna: For an enhanced flavor, let the watermelon marinate for at least 12 hours. This allows it to fully absorb the savory notes of the vinegar and oil, mimicking the texture and taste of traditional tuna more closely.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Marinating Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Lunch, Dinner
  • Method: Baked, Boiled, Marinated, Pickled
  • Cuisine: Hawaiian, American