Vegan poke bowl – it looks like tuna, it tastes like tuna, but it’s whole foods plant-based?? I chopped a seedless watermelon into cubes and 24 hours later we have vegan tuna! Like real tuna, the vegan version is buttery, silky, and smooth.
I went through a lot of trial and error with the watermelon tuna, but I finally figured out HOW to perfect the “tuna” – this isn’t a quick, instant gratification process by any means, but once you make the tuna it lasts for days. To note:
- The watermelon should be baked for at least 50 minutes flipping halfway through. I always check on mine after 30 minutes and it gives me a pretty good idea of how much more time they need. The texture should be that of tuna – silky, buttery, and smooth.
- Make sure to spread watermelon out – they will shrink quite a bit and lose a ton of water, so cut them into large chunks and give them space to breathe on the tray. I used 2 large trays and had enough tuna for a week.
- The watermelon lose nearly all their water, so they don’t have the same benefits they do raw. The point of this dish is to mimic tuna – the watermelon tuna is definitely not unhealthy, but it’s not packed with nutrients either.
Vegan Poke Toppings
You can get creative and top your watermelon tuna on any kind of base. It’s amazing on my REFRESHING CUCUMBER SALAD. In this particular recipe, I used brown rice as a base and added simple toppings including edamame, nori, and fresh ginger, but this recipe encourages creativity. Avocado, carrots, sprouts, radish, green onions, mushrooms, nuts, cucumber – switch it up and see what you like best!
I love this marinade and would use it as a dressing for future recipes. The tuna gets cooked in this marinade, and marinates in it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. This helps maintain the texture and give it some flavor. If you want your tuna to taste super plain, or don’t want the traditional Hawaiian poke flavors, you can make a much simpler marinade made up of:
Sesame oil + kelp granules. That’s it! The oil gives the tuna that fatty texture, and the kelp gives it the fishy flavor. You can do this method, but beware it requires quite a bit of oil. I try not to eat too much oil in my diet, but I wanted to lay this method out as an option. For one regular size seedless watermelon, it requires about 1/2 cup of sesame oil.
This recipe is truly mind blowing and exciting to eat as a vegan – I was never a huge fan of fish, but to be able to eat a vegan version that tastes pretty realistic goes to show you really can make anything vegan!
Vegan Poke Bowl
- 1 seedless watermelon
- 1/2 cup coconut aminos or tamari
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp kelp granules optional; adds a fishier taste
- 1 tbsp ginger powder can sub for minced fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp furikake
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup brown rice any rice works fine
- 2 tsp rice vinegar (for the rice)
- 1/2 cup edamame
- 1/2 lime (juice of) optional
- 1 sheet nori
- fresh ginger
- sesame seeds topping
- 1/4 tsp sea salt topping
- preheat oven to 400 degrees. add all marinade ingredients to a blender and pulse for 1 minute or so. if you don't have a blender, you can mix them in a bowl with a fork.
- chop the watermelon into even cubes - keep in mind the cubes shrink, so don't make them too small.
- separate the watermelon onto baking trays (make sure they’re not too crowded!) and lightly coat them with the marinade.
- cook for 30 minutes then stir the cubes. add them in for another 25 minutes then check to make sure the texture is right. depending on the size of your cubes and your specific oven, this could take longer or shorter so continuously check up on them. it's better to overcook them than undercook them, so don't be nervous if they start charring - that's normal!
- once they’re done, they should have a tuna-like consistency. silky, smooth, and buttery. add them into a plastic bag with the marinade, give it a good shake, and leave in the fridge for at LEAST 24 hours
- after 24 hours, remove each poke one by one on a paper towel. use another paper towel to lightly tap some of the marinade off. you can serve as is, but I prefer the tuna with less of the marinade. serve in a bowl with all your favorite poke toppings!