These deconstructed sushi bowls (poke bowls) are made with seasoned sushi rice, marinated salmon or ahi tuna, and a spicy mayo sauce, and are an easy alternative to sushi.
This year has been weird. I’m sure you would agree.
As the year stretches on, things haven’t gone “back to normal” yet, so we’ve been trying to make a bigger effort to adapt instead of complain. For me, that means (in part) finding a way to enjoy foods I’ve been missing.
And guys, I miss sushi! There isn’t a great sushi restaurant nearby, so we usually got sushi while traveling.
In the past, I have made sushi rolls at home, but it is a lot of work! Maybe it’s just that I never perfected my sushi rolling skills.
I decided to take the easy route and skip the rolling.
These deconstructed sushi bowls are inspired by Hawaiian poke bowls, require very few kitchen skills (and zero sushi-rolling skills) to prepare, and are made with easy-to-find (or easy-to-order) ingredients.
I recommend reading through the entire post in full first (yes, both the post and the recipe) to get tips on raw fish safety and where to source the ingredients (if you can’t find them locally).
This is not an authentic Japanese recipe. Instead, we’ll call it a Japanese-and-Hawaiian-inspired recipe meant to satisfy your sushi cravings.
Does This Recipe Use Raw Fish or Cooked Fish?
You can use either raw or cooked fish with these sushi bowls, but the main part of the recipe card shows how to make these bowls with raw fish.
Check the recipe card notes for tips on how to cook the salmon or ahi tuna if desired.
Raw Fish Safety Tips
If you’re going to eat raw fish, the FDA recommends purchasing commercially frozen fish, not fresh fish.
I do not recommend using fresh fish for this recipe. Instead, look for high-quality, commercially frozen seafood.
Also, this is a reminder to always listen to your doctor (not me) about consuming raw fish, and if you’re unsure if you should try it, go ahead and cook your fish.
What Is Sushi-Grade Fish? (And Is it Better?)
In theory, it means that the fish is high-quality and safe to be eaten raw, but I think it’s good to be aware that the label is only as trustworthy as the brand that added the label.
If the brand is reputable, you should be able to find information about what they mean by the term sushi-grade.
Where to Buy High-Quality Frozen Fish
High-quality fish should have lots of information printed on the label.
Was the fish caught in the United States? Since we’re using either salmon or ahi tuna in this recipe, look for wild-caught fish from Alaska (or the Pacific).
Does it have sustainability certifications?
Check the ingredient label. Was the fish packed with chemical additives?
My favorite place to buy frozen seafood in person is Trader Joe’s.
I also recommend buying seafood online from a CSF (community supported fishery) such as Sitka Salmon Shares, or from a reputable seafood source (like Thrive Market). Click here for a coupon to sign up for Thrive Market.
If you can’t find high-quality raw fish right now, I recommend following the directions in the recipe card notes to cook your fish.
Should I Use Tuna or Salmon for These Deconstructed Sushi Bowls?
I picked those two fish options for these sushi bowls because both salmon and ahi tuna steaks are relatively easy to find.
Plus, both salmon and tuna are pretty delicious in sushi.
The photos show salmon.
Tips for Buying Ahi Tuna
Look for tuna that is pale pink, not bright red.
Bright red tuna has almost always been treated with carbon monoxide to boost the red color and (in my experience) does not taste as good.
Trader Joe’s has really delicious frozen ahi tuna steaks.
What Kind of Salmon Is Best?
Look for frozen wild salmon.
How Can I Remove the Salmon Skin?
I recommend using a fillet knife for this step.
Place the fish flesh side down on a cutting board. Use the fillet knife to cut parallel to the natural grain of the fish.
Can I Make California Sushi Bowls?
I recommend making the fish marinade (even without the salmon or tuna) and simmering it, because it’s one of the sauces you’ll pour over the sushi bowl.
To make these California Sushi Bowls, add crab (or imitation crab) and cucumber.
What is Sushi Rice?
Sushi rice is a Japanese medium or short-grained rice. The rice is sticky after cooking, making it ideal for staying put in a sushi roll.
I usually buy Nishiki sushi rice.
Since we won’t be rolling the rice into sushi, if you want to swap the sushi rice for another type of white rice (such as this Instant Pot Jasmine rice), you can. If you use a different type of rice, use the package directions (not the directions in the recipe card).
What is Furikake Seasoning?
Furikake is a Japanese seasoning made with sesame seeds, rice vinegar, and seaweed. In this recipe, we’re using it to season the sushi rice.
If you can’t find furikake seasoning, swap thin slices of nori (roasted seaweed sheets). I buy organic nori.
How to Make Deconstructed Sushi Bowls
Start by making the sushi rice.
Rinse the rice and then add it to a saucepan with water.
Bring the rice to a boil, and then lower the heat. Cook for twenty minutes on low, and then turn off the heat.
Leave the rice covered for 10 more minutes, and then it’s ready.
Letting the rice sit off-heat will keep the rice from sticking to the pan. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this part.
Just before serving, stir in a little rice vinegar.
While the rice cooks, cut the fish into cubes (or slices).
Marinate the fish in rice vinegar (or mirin), soy sauce (gluten-free if needed), and sugar.
It’s basically a homemade eel sauce.
After 15 minutes, pour the marinade into a saucepan and set the fish aside.
Bring the marinade to a boil, and then simmer for a few minutes to thicken the sauce.
Next, whisk together a little mayo and sriracha.
Finally, assemble your sushi bowls.
Scoop rice into bowls and sprinkle furiyake seasoning over the rice.
Add the fish, marinade, some avocado, and then drizzle the spicy mayo over everything.
Deconstructed Sushi Bowls
Sushi Bowl Toppings:
- ½ tsp furikake seasoning Or swap a few pieces of thinly sliced nori (roasted seaweed)
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced (green top only)
- 6 slices pickled sushi ginger Use more or less as desired
- wasabi (optional), to taste
- extra soy sauce or tamari, to taste Use gluten-free certified sauce if needed
Make Sushi Rice:
- Add the rice to a mesh sieve and rinse until the water runs clear.Stovetop directions follow. Alternatively, use a rice cooker or Instant Pot to cook the rice, following the package or appliance directions for sushi rice.Note: If using short-grain rice instead of medium-grain, follow the package directions. Stovetop Directions:Add all sushi and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover pot and lower heat to low. Cook rice for 20 minutes, and then remove from heat. Leave covered for an additional 10 minutes.After cooking:Keep the rice covered until you're ready to use. Stir in the rice vinegar just before serving.
Prepare the Fish:
- If you're cooking the fish, check the recipe notes before proceeding.For salmon: If your fish has skin, place the fish skin-side up on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife (a fillet knife is best) to cut the skin off the fish, keeping the knife blade parallel to natural grain of the fish.
- Dice the raw salmon or tuna into small cubes. Alternatively, thinly slice the fish.Place the cubed fish into a shallow dish.
- Whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar.Pour the sauce over the fish, and set the fish in the fridge to marinate for at least 15 minutes.
Cook the Marinade:
- After the fish marinates, pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil, and then simmer about 3 minutes or until thickened. Set aside.
Assemble the Sushi Bowls:
- Mix together the mayo and sriracha. Taste, and add more hot sauce if desired.
- Scoop rice into the bowls. (You may have extra rice.)Sprinkle the furikake seasoning evenly over the rice. (If using nori instead, simply arrange it on the rice.)Add the fish, and drizzle the marinade over the fish and rice. (Use as much of the marinade as you want, you might have extra.) Add the avocado and green onion. Drizzle the spicy mayo across the toppings (you might have extra).Serve pickled ginger, wasabi, and extra soy sauce on the side. Serve any extra marinade or spicy mayo on the side.Serve immediately.
- Marinate sliced Japanese or English cucumber in rice vinegar overnight. Strain cucumbers out of vinegar, toss with sesame seeds + serve.
- Add edamame