The most popular bowl right now is POKE, (pronounced poh-kay), and my kids and I absolutely agree. After all who are we to argue with fresh amazing ingredients that we can customize to each of our likings. Learning to make this at home is not only fun and saves money but seems to have also made the kids more creative and interested in trying new things. These are the best DIY poke bowls to make at home and they are kid-friendly.
A traditional poke bowl typically starts with raw marinated seafood, like ahi or salmon. This is usually tossed with umami-like dressings and sauces then placed over rice and/or salad greens. We even have many local places that have tortilla chips as a choice. The final layer includes the vegetables and other toppings like sesame seeds and fish eggs. Making this kid-friendly was not hard but resulted in replacing the raw fish ingredients with cooked.
Poke Bowls are Pricey
We love going to poke bowl restaurants and walking down the counter "oohing and awing" through the glass at all the seafood, prepared vegetables, and exotic ingredients like lotus chips and masago. Yes, all three of us look through the glass and not OVER the glass because none of us are tall enough. Let's be honest, I never will be! Whenever we are in a poke shop, I always think of Hawaii and how no matter what island we are on we have our favorite poke on Maui, Kauai, etc.
The reality is we do not always have the time or want to always spend the money to get us all poke bowls. In our area even a basic small poke bowl can cost about $13 each – that times 3 and add a drink or two is often a total of about $45. Yikes! We can make these for a lot less money at home considering the kids typically pick mostly the simple ingredients versus items like seaweed salad and spicy tuna which I adore.
Build Your Own Poke Bowls
Since the kids are getting more involved in the kitchen, I thought I would start offering a build your own poke bowl assembly line at home. This seemed to be the only way Enzo would get intrigued by this too. Ian is still a ‘no thanks’ as it still involved some sort of seafood which is still where his past life as a vegetarian comes to a halt – beef, pork, and chicken yes – seafood no. He is still taking baby steps in that category. I was not offering abalone poke bowls so he was out. Abalone is his one seafood love.
They still tend to shy away from the raw seafood so we went with some kid-friendly kanikama, fake crab sticks. Here are the final ingredients they requested and mommy approved. I prepped those that needed it plus made the rice and let it cool. We also had a jar of pickled vegetables that Miley had helped make the week before. These usually do not last in our house very long so this was a bonus to still have some. They are amazing and the link to that recipe is below. This was my favorite part of the poke bowls.
Poke Bowl Ingredients
For kid-friendly ingredient ideas, let them have a say in what they want to eat. I usually plan ahead and ask them for their ideas before I go to the store. But if you want to work off what you have, have the whole family check the pantry and refrigerator for poke ingredients you already have on hand.
Poke bowls can include chicken, spicy tuna, shrimp, crab, cooked salmon, or other fish. For vegan poke bowls, think of using tempeh, tofu, edamame, or add extra avocado. We often make a chicken poke bowl recipe that is so easy using leftovers. Try my TERIYAKI CHICKEN ON A STICK for this, you will not be disappointed.
For the images in this post, this is what our family used to make the DIY Poke Bowls!
- Kanikama - imitation crab
- sesame seeds
- pickled vegetables - HOW TO MAKE QUICK PICKLED VEGETABLES
- cherry tomatoes
- rice & lettuce
- tamari - gluten-free soy sauce
I prepped them and got them all out on the counter. They then pulled up their bar stools and the chaos began. There was some fighting over waiting for this or that and not having enough serving tongs. So a lesson for mommy – everyone gets their own set of tongs! This probably will result in some sword-like tong fighting over the crab next time by the boys.
Low-Carb or Keto Poke Bowl
For healthy poke bowl options, here are some great ideas to follow with this rice. On days I want to stay in ketosis, I make a keto-friendly poke bowl by omitting the rice and adding more salad greens or spiralized zucchini noodles that are blanched but then cold. I will use Tamari instead of soy sauce so that my poke bowl is gluten-free. I also make sure I stick to clean proteins like ahi tuna, shrimp, or octopus vs the imitation crab. For a low-carb poke recipe, add just a tiny bit of rice to the side and keep it mostly salad, seafood, veggies, and avocado (which is what I did below). The fake crab does have carbs, so watch your ingredients and read your labels.
Once the dust, in this case, rice, settled it was my turn to make a poke bowl just to see what they came up with and how it was. I for sure would want some marinated ahi or octopus next time in my bowl. I also like my poke bowls to be spicy so next time for sure add some wasabi or Thai chili sauce for some heat. But this was alright and they all loved it!
A huge win to get some quality and healthy ingredients in them. They have asked to make this again and they want a lot so they can have leftovers in containers the next day for school lunches. I am happy to do that for them for sure, but hoping next time they will maybe at least try marinated shrimp vs the fake crab sticks!
A mom can dream.
Do your kids like poke bowls and how adventurous are they? If they love crab cakes or other seafood, here is a great list of the best recipes to serve with them. There are sides, drinks, sauces, and desserts all perfect for WHAT TO SERVE WITH CRAB CAKES.
POKE BOWL RECIPE: KIDS LOVE TO MAKE AND EAT
- rice cooker
- 4 Cups cooked white sticky rice cooled to room temperature
- Salad / lettuce greens
Choose any of the following to make your own custom Poke Bowls
- Cooked Teriyaki Chicken
- Cooked Shrimp
- Cooked Octopus
- Imitation Crab
- Ahi Tuna plain or spicy
- pickled vegetables
- green onions
- sesame seeds
- sesame oil
- soy sauce / Tamari
- Cook your rice to the instructions on your rice cooker or with the stovetop method you prefer.
- While the rice is cooking, gather all the ingredients you will be using to make the poke bowls. If any proteins need to be cooked, do so at this time.
- Once the rice is done cooking, let it cool and come to room temperature. You do not want it to be hot nor do you want it to be cold.
- Once the rice is ready, scoop a cup into each individual bowl and add any salad greens you may be using as well.
- Top with proteins, vegetables, fruits, and other toppings.
- Drizzle with sesame oil, soy sauce, or other dressings you may like.
I like this idea. We do sort of the same idea with either smoked salmon or shrimp, but I hadn't thought of using imitation crab. I bet my kids would like that one too! I'll try it for sure! Thanks!
I have not had a poke bowl yet, but I hear everyone talking about them. Now I need to try one in a restaurant AND make my own! This is such a wonderful idea to get kids involved in choosing what they want in their bowls, my girls would love this. They love anything that gives them independence in the kitchen. They are 10 and 11 so I'd have them help cook the rice and chop foods too, lol.
Great plan and so glad you plan to get them all involved. I would love for you to share photos of your tasty fun poke adventures. If you remember and are on social media - tag me on FB or IG @theshortordercookblog.
Stacey Kyle says
First of all, I love your writing style! It is like we are there with you. I watch a lot of cooking shows, and poke bowls are one of those ideas that sounds interesting. I haven't tried one yet, but this seems easy enough to try at home, even if I choose real crab. Thanks for sharing this one!
Stacey, thank you for the wonderful compliment. It really means a lot. I have always loved cooking and having people over so I had hoped this blog would stretch that feeling of being connected through food would transpire to the readers. I couldn't be happier to read this - made my day! And do try the poke bowls, good stuff no matter what proteins and vegetables you use.
This recipe looks perfect for me to try! Thanks so much for sharing. A close friend of mine just gave me some crab meat and I wasn't sure wwhat to do with it until now!
Sounds great, I need close friends with crab connections! 🙂
Wow! What a great idea. I love poke bowls and will defiinitely keep this in mind for when my kiddo is bigger!!
This is such a good idea!!! It’s easy for me to get in the same meal ruts with my kids so I’m looking forward to trying this idea with them! While I have one that will eat shrimp, octopus, and pretty much anything, the other 2 will prefer the fake crab sticks! I’ve pinned it so I don’t forget!
Great, thanks for pinning. I hope you all have a fun and delicious adventure with poke bowls!
What a great idea! And, not to mention YUMMY!
What a great way to get kids to eat vegetables.