Monday, September 5, 2016

Watermelon Poke Bowls

Over the weekend I was out at Tanaka Farms teaching the third and final of my Summer Cooking Series classes. (Don't worry, next up is the Fall Harvest Cooking Series!) It's kind of a weird time on the farm...I mean it's the end of Summer, so our Fall harvest is not quite ready for picking and the Spring harvest has long since gone. Ripe seasonal produce is mostly tomatoes, corn, and melons. And when I do these classes, I really like to focus on celebrating the season's bounty, so my recipes always center around what's in season. 

I chose to focus on watermelon. After all, there are a lot of folks heading to the farm for the Melon Tours and to get their hands on a sweet yellow watermelon. "Perfect!" I thought to myself. "But what am I going to cook with watermelon?" I mean I already did a kids class on Watermelon Agua Fresca a few weeks back and other than grilling it (which isn't much of a recipe) watermelon pretty much is a fruit that stands alone.

Back in my Whole Foods Market days, a few of us creative types used to do some fun experimenting and I do remember using watermelon as a stand in for tuna to make a sashimi, and then I remembered seeing my friend Erin's post on her beautiful site Olives For Dinner where she made a Watermelon Poke Bowl inspired by a recipe in Bon Apetit Magazine. And I know Erin doesn't mess around when it comes to vegan-izing seafood. I mean she's a genius when it comes to that stuff!

Inspired by Erin, and a host of other recipes from the old internet machine, I set out to create a very simple recipe for traditional Poke that would be easy to make and impress the very-much-not-vegan crowd at the farm. I am limited in cooking equipment out on the farm, so it had to be something I could pretty much make in one pan on a single portable gas burner.

I am happy to report...this one really hit the mark! Not only was it simple to make, but the taste was spot on! Not exactly like tuna (I mean it IS watermelon, after all!) but according to all that gave it a try, it certainly was reminiscent of Poke, and had the right flavors and components found in a traditional Poke Bowl. Even Farmer Tanaka himself gave it the thumbs up.

Okay, okay. Enough chit chat. On to the recipe!

Watermelon Poke Bowls
For a downloadable PDF of this recipe CLICK HERE.

This recipe can definitely be made in parts and it can be made ahead of time so that all of the components are ready in the fridge when you are ready for some serious Poke Bowl action.

Watermelon in Marinade
This marinade will transform your watermelon from sweet to savory. The vinegar will help soften the fruit and prepare it for cooking which will soften it even more making it the perfect substitute for ahi tuna in this vegan version of a Poke Bowl.

¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 pounds cubed red seedless watermelon (cut it into small cubes no larger than ½-inch)

Mix together marinade in a shallow dish with a lid, or a re-sealable plastic bag.
Add watermelon and refrigerate for at least one hour, but it’s even better if you can do it overnight. Transfer marinated watermelon to a pan with a lid.
Cook covered on medium high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid and continue cooking for about 10 minutes more, or until deep red and translucent and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
If you have a really juicy watermelon, you can drain off any excess liquid.
 Chill until ready to serve.

Watermelon Poke
Hawaiian Poke was made popular by fisherman who made this fish salad with the trim and scraps leftover after the prime cuts were used or sold to eat as a snack or appetizer.

1 recipe Watermelon in Marinade
1 cup julienne cut Maui Onions
1 cup chopped green onion
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 teaspoons soy sauce

Add all ingredients to a bowl and toss to coat.
Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Watermelon Poke Salad

For the Sweet Sticky rice

This sweet rice makes a perfect base to serve under your Poke. Use an Ice Cream Scoop for perfectly shaped balls of rice.

2 cups short grain arborio or sushi rice, rinsed
3 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons agave
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of your rice cooker and follow the directions on your rice cooker. If you do not have a rice cooker, bring salt and water to a boil in a pot with a tight fitting lid. Stir in remaining ingredients. Return to a low simmer, cover and
simmer for about 20 minutes, or
until water has been absorbed.

Sesame SriRacha Sauce
This sauce will quickly become a household favorite! I’m never without a squeezy bottle full in my refrigerator.

12 ounces soft silken tofu
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons Sriracha Sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon mustard seed
½ teaspoon sea salt

Add all ingredients to a blender and
blend until silky smooth.
Keep refrigerated.

Assemble Your Poke Bowl
Time to get artistic! All of your hard work will now be assembled into the most beautifully arranged bowl of Watermelon Poke.

You will need:
1 recipe Sweet Sticky Rice
1 recipe Watermelon Poke
Sesame Sriracha Sauce
Shredded Nori
Sesame seeds
Chopped Green Onions
Wedge of Lime

Start by adding desired amount of rice to the bottom of the bowl.
Next add desired amount of Watermelon Poke.
Top with a generous amount of Sesame Sriracha Sauce, Then Sprinkle with shredded Nori, Furikake, Sesame Seeds, and green onion.
Serve with a wedge of lime.

Samples passed out at the end of class.
We ended up passing out about 150 samples between Saturday and Sunday's classes.
Talk about planting seeds!


MeCooks said...

This is a great recipe, worth trying at home :-)

Please visit my site to check my cooking ideas :-)

Bianca said...

Wow! I've never had poke (never really ate seafood in my meat-eating days), but this sounds amazing! I love the idea of savory watermelon.

MeCooks said...

Great recipe! Yummy
Check out my site :-)

Joni Marie Newman said...

It passed the test at Tanaka Farms, for sure! I was so nervous making watermelon poke for a big group of Japanese people who eat a lot of traditional poke. And they LOVED it!

AwaludinUser said...

By the way, Thank you for sharing with us, and we sincerely hope you will continue to update or post other articles.
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All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni