This veggie poke bowl has sushi rice, sautéed zucchini instead of raw fish, cucumber-kimchi salad, and spicy mayo. Simple to make and ready in just 45 minutes.
Every summer during peak zucchini season (i.e. when farmers markets are anchored by seemingly bottomless crates of the green stuff), us recipe developers get busy. The goal: figure out yet another way to use up a bounty this squash, so that you, dear home cooks of the world, won’t be left scratching your heads for too long.
This year, I’m keeping it simple and transforming basic sautéed zucchini (aka courgettes to my friends across the pond) into a colorful veggie poke bowl – with sushi rice, tangy cucumber-kimchi salad, and creamy spicy mayo. Takes just 45 minutes from start to finish.
What is a Poke Bowl
Poke (pronounced poh-kay, rhymes with okay) is a traditional Hawaiian meal of cubed and marinated raw fish. This is most often tuna with soy sauce, sesame oil, and scallions. I haven’t been to Hawaii, but from my understanding, poke is a casual meal, available at grocery stores and gas stations.
Within the past decade, poke bowls have become super popular here on the mainland. Rice is often used as a base for the fish, followed by a bunch of other toppings, like seaweed salad, avocado, cucumbers, sesame seeds, various sauces/dressings, fried shallots, you name it.
For me, a poke bowl is all about contrast. Contrast of textures – chewy fish, fluffy rice, crunchy vegetables; of temperatures – warm rice/cold toppings; and of flavors – sweet rice, briny fish, salty soy sauce, nutty sesame. With each bite, you get a little bit of everything. For this vegan poke bowl, I’m using sautéed zucchini instead of fish.
Ingredient Notes + Substitutions
- Rice: You can use any [white or brown] short-grain rice for these bowls.
- Zucchini: Feel free to substitute with yellow summer squash or use a combo.
- Cucumbers: Any cukes will work here – Persian, Kirby, or English.
- Kimchi: This spicy fermented Korean cabbage adds a ton of flavor.
- Optional toppings: Use this recipe as a base and feel free to pile on other things, like quick-pickled red onions, ponzu sauce, avocado, crispy shallots, sliced radishes, edamame, pickled ginger, or even diced mango.
Veggie Poke Bowl Step-by-Step
Step 1: Cook the rice.
Start by cooking the rice in boiling water. Do not stir while it’s cooking to avoid mushy grains. After all the water is absorbed, turn the heat off, and let it stand covered (without stirring) for an extra 10 minutes to steam. This is how you get the fluffiest rice.
Step 2: Sear the zucchini.
Meanwhile, sauté the zucchini for 8 to 10 minutes til it’s nicely browned. Cook it over medium/medium-high heat and don’t overcrowd the skillet; resist the urge to stir the zucchini too often and wait until the very end to salt it. This sautéing technique yields golden brown, not-mushy zucchini with bright green skin.
Step 3: Make the cucumber salad.
In a bowl, combine the cucumbers, kimchi, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. The longer this salad sits, the softer the cucumbers become and the more kimchi flavor they take on (this is a good thing).
Step 4: Make the spicy mayo.
Finally, stir some Sriracha (or another hot sauce) into mayo until it reaches your desired spice level.
Step 5: Serve the poke bowls.
Divide the rice among bowls and top with the zucchini, cucumber salad, and spicy mayo. Garnish with sesame seeds and herbs if you have them.
More summer vegetables…
Let me know if you try this recipe! Give it a rating below and leave a comment, and don’t forget to tag your creation with @thenewbaguette on Instagram.
The Full RecipePrint
- 1 cup sushi rice (or any other short-grain white or brown rice)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 small zucchini or yellow summer squash (about 1 1/4 pounds), halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 small cucumbers, partially peeled and thinly sliced into coins
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped kimchi with its juice
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, plus more for serving
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/3 cup mayo
- Sriracha or another hot sauce, to taste
- Scallions, for serving
- In a small pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup rice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover tightly with a lid and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until all the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes (do not stir during cooking). Turn the heat off and let the rice stand covered (still not stirring) for 10 more minutes to steam.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini in a single layer and cook until it’s nicely browned, stirring occasionally but not too much, 8 to 10 minutes; in the last 2 minutes of cooking, season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. (see note below)
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine 2 sliced cucumbers with 1/4 cup chopped kimchi and 1 teaspoon each of sesame seeds, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir 1/3 cup mayo with hot sauce to taste, starting with 1-2 teaspoons and working your way up, depending on how spicy you want it.
- To serve, divide the rice among 4 bowls and top with the zucchini and cucumber salad. Drizzle with spicy mayo and sprinkle with scallions and extra sesame seeds.
How you cook the zucchini is key to the success of this dish. Cook it over medium/medium-high heat and don’t overcrowd the skillet; resist the urge to stir the zucchini too often and wait until the very end to add any salt. This technique yields golden brown, not-mushy zucchini with bright green skin.
- Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe
- Calories: 300
- Fat: 10 g
- Carbohydrates: 47.2 g
- Fiber: 2.7 g
- Protein: 5. 8g
Keywords: hawaiian, poke, zucchini, kimchi, cucumber