Homemade Spicy Tuna Sushi Poke Rice Bowl Recipe

If you love sushi rolls you will love sushi poke bowls! One of my absolute favorite take out places is Motomaki which is a fast casual restaurant in the Denver/Boulder metro area specializing in Japanese Hawaiian fusion. The owner of this fast casual concept also owns a very popular sushi bar and restaurant in Boulder so it makes sense that this quick option is just as good! Known for their sushi bowls and burritos, they are my go to when I am craving sushi or a healthier choice. I would probably eat there everyday if I could, but that’s not an option. So I learned how to make my own sushi bowls at home. These are fairly easy to make and are perfect for a healthy dinner or lunch. Let me show you how to make these simple homemade spicy tuna sushi poke rice bowls. Full recipe card below.

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What is a Poke Bowl?

To answer this question I have to first answer the question, what is sushi? While there is more than one type of sushi, it is traditionally a raw fish dish served in many Japanese restaurants. Sushi can come in the form of hand rolls which usually contain raw or cooked seafood wrapped in sticky rice and a thin sheet of nori which is dried seaweed. These are normally rolled on a bamboo mat into a log and then sliced with a wet knife to make pinwheel looking bites with clean cuts. This type of sushi is very popular because it often includes other fillers like cream cheese, Japanese cucumbers, or avocado.

Other popular forms of sushi are sashimi and nigiri. While these two are often thought of as the same they are not. Sashimi is a single piece of thinly sliced raw seafood served on its own. Nigiri is a thin layer of sliced raw seafood served on top of an oval shaped ball of rice.

Poke bowls are actually a Hawaiian dish of raw fish, vegetables, and fruit served over rice. So basically a poke bowl is a deconstructed sushi roll with more rice, veggies, fruit, and frequently a spicy sauce.

Why I Love Poke Bowls

First of all, I love fresh fish especially sushi and most Asian inspired cuisine. Poke bowls combine all the Asian flavors I love with fresh ingredients to make a filling dish. And while I love grabbing my favorite sushi roll at a restaurant, I love cooking at home even more. I have tried making homemade sushi rolls but it takes a lot more time and practice than making a poke bowl. Poke is my go to dish when I want something flavorful and light and don’t have a ton of time to make it. Afterall, it is a mostly raw dish.

If you love sushi, I am confident you will love poke bowls too!

Basic Sushi Poke Bowl Ingredients

Most poke bowls have very similar main ingredients that are consistent across the board but vary in types and quantities. I will break down what I use and why and what ingredients can be substituted or left out.

Sashimi Grade Tuna – This is very important! Whenever you consume raw tuna it must be sashimi-grade tuna. Do not buy frozen Ahi or canned tuna. Frozen Ahi is not sushi grade tuna and don’t even get me started on the gross stuff in the can. You want to make sure you are buying fresh tuna from a fish market or a reliable shop. Most regular grocery stores do not sell sushi grade fish. I find my sashimi at my local international food market but you may be able to find it at some Whole Foods locations too. If it isn’t clear on the packaging, ask the butcher.

I have also made this poke bowl using a combo pack of sashimi grade salmon and tuna which is also very good. But if I am being honest, a spicy tuna mixture is really my favorite!

Rice – The base of a poke bowl is rice. Usually when you make sushi you use sticky rice so the rolls stay together, but I think regular rice works just fine here. I personally prefer Jasmine rice because it has a lot more flavor than white rice or brown rice and it isn’t quite as dry. You can use regular cooking rice or instant.

Cucumbers – A sliced and diced cucumber adds a lot of freshness to this bowl. I usually slice mine and then cut the slices into fourths to make it easier to grab a piece in each bite. These are the perfect fruit for a raw dish.

Carrots – Filling a poke bowl with veggies is what makes this tasty dish more guilt free, haha! I usually buy a whole carrot and shred it in my food processor or I buy a bag of pre-shredded carrots.

Jalapenos – This bowl is a spicy dish which comes from the spicy tuna mixture, the sauce, and the jalapenos. If you are not into spicy food, you can pull back on the spicy elements and skip the jalapenos or decrease the spice level by removing the seeds. If you leave the seeds in it will be a lot spicier. I usually remove the seeds.

Pro TIP: Jalapenos tend to be spicier the longer they remain on the plant and if they are on the vine long enough they will start to change colors from green to an orangey color to a red. They will also start to get little striations on them which also indicate they will be spicier. 

Green Onions – Green onions pair really well with Asian cuisine, add a lot of flavor, and are best served raw. All that makes them the perfect topping for a poke bowl.

Cilantro – I chopped fresh cilantro for my bowls and I recommend you do the same. Real cilantro brings a fresh element to the dish that you will not have without it. In my opinion dried cilantro tastes nothing like real cilantro and should be avoided.

Avocado – This is the perfect compliment to the fresh taste and flavors in this sushi bowl and it adds a bit of creaminess. Avocado is one of my favorite toppings and pairs really well with spicy foods.

Limes – A little lime juice really helps brighten up this dish and adds a little acidity to balance it out. I use a lime wedge as a garnish for the bowl and add a few squeezes on top as I eat it.

Fried Onions – I am a firm believer that these crispy onions can be added to just about anything. Not just green bean casserole, haha! But seriously, I put them on salads, quesadillas, tacos, wraps, you name it. They give any dish a little crunch and savory saltiness.

Sesame Oil  – Sesame oil is frequently used in Asian cooking as a way of adding flavor to a dish. As the name suggests, it is oil derived from sesame seeds and has a nutty flavor. This is used for the spicy tuna mixture.

Ponzu Sauce – This is another sauce commonly used in Japanese dishes. It has a slight vinaigrette taste that is salty, sweet, and sour. The ponzu sauce is used to flavor the tuna mixture.

Soy Sauce. Soy sauce is a staple in my pantry and I use it in almost all of my Asian dishes. It is a thin sauce with a very salty taste and a fair amount of sodium. Because of this I always use the reduced sodium version to avoid an overly salted dish.

Garlic  – I always use real garlic from the jar because it’s convenient and has a softer flavor than garlic powder. If you choose to use garlic powder you will not need as much. Substitute 1/8 tsp of garlic powder for 1 tsp of fresh.

Sriracha – If you like a little spice in your life, add a little sriracha sauce. This chili sauce will increase the spice on the tuna. While this is one of my favorite components, I like things a little spicy. But this ingredient is completely optional and you can definitely skip it if you are not into spicy food.

Cayenne Pepper – This will help make your tuna become spicy tuna. While it is optional, I think a little bit of spicy seasonings takes it up a notch. You can add as much or as little as you like. If you don’t have cayenne you can also use a few drops of hot sauce like tabasco or sriracha.

Sriracha Mayo – If you have never had Sriracha mayo it’s essentially spicy mayonnaise. It has the same tangy taste as regular mayo with a little spicy kick. If you do not have the store bought version, you can easily make a homemade spicy mayo which I have done many times. All you need is mayonnaise and sriracha. Sometimes I add a little lime juice if I have it and salt and pepper, but that’s really all there is to it.

Other Additions – Feel free to add other veggies or herbs as you wish. I have used pickled ginger and pineapple in my bowls before which were really good! But feel free to add what you enjoy eating.

Cooking Method – The only portion of this dish that gets cooked is the rice. I usually make my rice on the stovetop, but you can use a rice cooker if you have one.

Tuna Prep – Many poke bowl restaurants make a spicy tuna mixture with ground tuna. While you can definitely do this if you have a meat grinder, I don’t think its necessary. I slice mine into small chunks and toss it with my spicy mix.

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Homemade Spicy Tuna Sushi Poke Rice Bowl Recipe

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  • Author: Lisa
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 large bowls 1x


Looking for a fresh and healthy lunch or dinner that isn’t a salad? Or maybe you have a sudden craving for sushi? This homemade spicy tuna sushi poke rice bowl recipe is full of umami flavor and fresh ingredients. You don’t even have to go to to a sushi restaurant to get it! You can make it at home for half the cost and will probably have leftovers! A whole new take on sushi at home.


Units Scale

1 lb Sushi Grade Tuna cubed

1 cup Jasmine Rice

1 Cucumber cubed

2 Jalapenos diced with seeds removed

3 Green Onions chopped

1 Carrot shredded

1 Avocado pitted and sliced

2 tbsp Fresh Cilantro chopped

Fried Onions

1 Lime halved and quartered

Sriracha Mayo drizzle

Spicy Tuna Sauce

1 tsp Sesame Oil

2 1/2 tsp Ponzu Sauce

1 tsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce

1 tsp Minced Garlic

Sriracha to taste

Cayenne Pepper to taste


  1. In a small pot, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  2. While the water is heating, use a sharp knife and slice your sushi grade tuna into small bite sized pieces. About 1/2 inch to 1 inch in size.
  3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, add sesame oil, ponzu sauce, soy sauce, garlic, sriracha, and cayenne. Wisk together.
  4. Add cubed tuna to the mixing bowl and coat the tuna in the sauce.
  5. Once the water is boiling, add 1 cup of jasmine rice and reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes for regular rice or follow box instructions for instant rice.
  6. Chop cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro, green onion, carrot and avocado while rice is cooking. To speed up the chopping process I use this slicer.
  7. When the rice is cooked through, fluff with a fork and scoop into bowls.
  8. Add chopped veggies, fruit, spicy tuna mixture, and crispy onions to the top of the rice.
  9. Sprinkle bowl with chopped cilantro and green onion and a generous drizzle of sriracha mayo
  10. Garnish with a lime wedge.
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge for no more than 2 days.


This makes two large poke bowls and we both normally have about a third of our bowl leftover. Because this is raw fish, I do not keep leftovers for more than one day.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20

What to Serve With Sushi Poke Bowls

The best part about a spicy tuna bowl is all the ingredients are in the bowl! The vegies, herbs, sauce, rice, and sushi are all combined to make a bowl full of flavor and healthy goodness. When I make these for dinner I usually cannot finish mine and have to save a third of it for the next day.

When to Make Spicy Tuna Sushi Bowls

This is the perfect weeknight meal when you are looking for something more healthy and fresh and don’t want a salad. This recipe is a family favorite and doesn’t take a long time to make. You can make this sushi poke bowl for a summertime lunch or dinner, on Fridays during lent, or simply anytime you have a craving for sushi. The good news is no matter when you decide to make this easy recipe, I am confident it will be a great addition to your meal rotation.

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