Watermelon Poke Bowls make a delicious vegan alternative to the original seafood-based dish. This Hawaiian-inspired bowl recipe is made with marinated watermelon cubes, steamed edamame, avocado, and nori (a type of seaweed) with rice. Make it up to two days in advance with just 10 minutes of prep work!
Poke restaurants featuring colorful seafood bowls have been popping up all over the continental US lately. Traditionally, poke was made by Hawaiian fisherman, who, according to this article from Michelin Guide, typically made the dish by seasoning raw tuna or cured octopus. In Hawaii, poke is commonly found at the supermarket and is a basic staple food.
I’ve come across today’s rendition of poke with all different types of seafood (salmon is popular these days), often served up in colorful bowls with rice and fresh produce.
You don’t necessarily have to order poke from a restaurant to try it. And you don’t even need access to sushi-grade tuna. This poke-inspired recipe uses watermelon instead!
With just 10 minutes of prep work and the ability to make everything in advance, these Watermelon Poke Bowls are ideal for lunch or dinner on a busy weekday. It’s great for students and beginner cooks, which is why I feature this recipe in my new book, The College Vegetarian Cookbook, too!
The first time I ever tried watermelon poke was when I made a recipe by Gaz Oakley of Avant-Garde Vegan. Gaz’s take on poke is amazing and you should try it! My version is a little bit simpler and requires fewer ingredients. I created it especially for a new cook with a smaller grocery budget in mind.
How to make Easy Watermelon Poke Bowls
I like to make the watermelon poke in one bowl for easy cleanup, so I use a bowl that’s large enough to fit the watermelon when I mix the marinade. To start, whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and ginger in the bowl. Then, toss in the watermelon cubes and both the white and green parts of a scallion.
The flavors from the marinade will soak into the watermelon cubes as time passes. I suggest waiting at least 30 minutes to get a good amount of flavor into the fruit. If you have enough time to allow the watermelon to marinate in the fridge overnight, even better.
While the melon is marinating, you can prep the other components.
Steam some shelled edamame (you can do this in the microwave or in a steamer basket) and prepare some rice (cook dry rice or heat up pre-cooked frozen rice in the microwave). Feel free to take care of both of these steps in advance.
Once the watermelon is marinated, the final step is preparing the bowls. Divide the cooked rice, steamed edamame, and watermelon cubes between bowls. I like to drizzle the leftover marinade on top for a little more sauce. And also, I top these Watermelon Poke Bowls with avocado and crumbled pieces of nori. (Nori is a type of seaweed that’s often used to wrap sushi. Feel free to leave it out if you’re not able to find it where you live.)
And that’s it! You’re ready to eat.
How to Meal Prep and Store Watermelon Poke Bowls
These Watermelon Poke Bowls are ideal for meal prep since the flavor of the marinated melon cubes gets better with time. Prep the watermelon, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to two days. Likewise, you can also steam the edamame and cook the rice ahead of time. Use pre-cooked rice from the frozen section for the quickest prep.
Potential Ingredient Substitutions and Additions:
- Instead of edamame, try crispy tofu for plant-based protein
- Instead of (or in addition to) avocado and nori, try shredded carrots, sliced cucumber, shredded cabbage, or sliced radishes.
- Any type of rice works for this recipe. Poke bowls are often served with sticky sushi rice, but regular white rice or brown rice also works fine.
- For a gluten-free variation, use liquid aminos or gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
This recipe is the first of a couple of excerpts I’ll be sharing from my new book, The College Vegetarian Cookbook, which is available for pre-order now! The book is a collection of 150 budget-friendly vegetarian recipes for new cooks.
Have you ever tried watermelon poke? I’d love to hear what you think!
Watermelon Poke Bowls make a delicious vegan alternative to the original seafood-based dish. This Hawaiian-inspired bowl recipe is made with marinated watermelon cubes, steamed edamame, avocado, and nori (a type of seaweed) with rice.
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
- 1 scallion, both white and green parts, chopped
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 cup steamed shelled edamame
- 1 nori sheet, torn into pieces
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
In a medium bowl, whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and ginger until well combined.
Add the watermelon and scallion and marinate for at least 30 minutes or cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
Divide the rice into 2 bowls and add the edamame, nori, and avocado.
Top with the marinated watermelon.
Drizzle the remaining marinade over the bowls if desired. Serve.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Protein swaps: Instead of the steamed edamame in these bowls, try swapping in crispy tofu, which has been sautéed in a lightly greased skillet for 4 minutes on each side or until golden and crisp.
For a gluten-free variation, use liquid aminos or gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
Looking for More Vegetarian Bowl Recipes?
- Easy Tempeh Burrito Bowls
- Sheet Pan Tofu Bowls
- Buffalo Roasted Chickpea Bowls
- Black Bean Breakfast Burrito Bowls
- Baked Tofu Harvest Bowls
Save these Watermelon Poke Bowls on Pinterest.
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