With marinated and seared watermelon chunks, fresh veggies, black rice and more, this fish-free riff on poke creates a flavor-packed vegetarian meal perfect for summer. Coming off 4th of July weekend, I can imagine most of us have consumed our weight in watermelon, but is there such a thing as too much of a good thing??
This dish is a bold mix of salty, sweet, and acidic components. Juicy chunks of watermelon and crisp cucumbers keep it fresh, while sesame-soy sauce packs an umami punch.Poke simply means “to cut” in Hawaiian. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to poke—the foundation is simple and fresh ingredients. Sure, traditionalists might cringe over the idea of using fruit in place of fish, but I promise it’s every bit as tasty.
Marinating and searing the watermelon concentrates its salty-sweet flavor, making it a delicious stand-in for fish. At first glance, one would never know the vibrant pink chunks were one of summer’s most adorned fruits. Deceitful? Maybe. Worth it? YES.After building the base of the poke bowl, the fun really begins. Again, there are no rules here. I prefer to play it loose on the traditional creations, but it is important to achieve some textural contrast and balance. Add any of the following:
Veg: Chunks of avocado, scallions, cucumber, edamame, red onion, radish, sprouts, dried seaweed.
Nuts & Seeds: Toasted sesame seeds, peanuts, cashews, macadamia nuts.
Heat: Serrano chiles, jalapeños, wasabi peas, chile flakes.
Pickles & herbs: Pickled anything (red onion, ginger, cucumber, etc.), cilantro, basil.Enjoy this poke over black rice (known as forbidden rice), brown rice, quinoa, soba noodles, leafy greens, or even a bowl of zucchini noodles for a fresh and flavorful summertime meal. If you’re looking for a shareable snack, rather than a meal, serve the poke with tortilla chips, chunky salsa-style.
So fresh. So clean. It’s time to bring the popular Hawaiian roadside snack to your own kitchen.
Watermelon-Sesame Poke Bowls
- 4 cups cubed seedless watermelon rind removed
- 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. lime juice + 1 tsp. lime zest
- 1 Tbsp. light agave syrup
- 1 Tbsp. reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. cashew butter or peanut butter
- 2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
- 1 cup dry black rice forbidden rice
- 1 avocado cubed
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
- Optional toppings: fresh basil or cilantro cucumber (thinly sliced), serrano chile (thinly sliced), toasted sesame seeds
- In a large bowl, combine ingredients for marinade: sesame oil, rice vinegar, lime juice + zest, agave, tamari, cashew butter, and ginger. Mix well. Pour marinade into a large resealable plastic bag. Add watermelon chunks; seal bag, and chill for 2 hours.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium. Remove watermelon from marinade; set marinade aside. Cook watermelon, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Add reserved marinade; cook 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly thickened. Transfer watermelon mixture to a bowl and chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Prepare rice according to package instructions. Divide cooked rice evenly into each of 4 bowls. Top evenly with watermelon, avocado, green onion, and other optional toppings, if desired. Top each bowl with 1 to 2 Tbsp. sauce.