Want to recreate restaurant-style poke bowls on the cheap? Use canned tuna and canned crab in this easy canned tuna poke bowl!
Not long ago I posed a question on A Love Letter to Food’s Facebook page:
I love asking open-ended questions on social media because, not only does it get plenty of engagement from readers, but usually gets me thinking. When I asked this particular question, friends and followers had PLENTY of answers. And, seeing as how most of us have been deprived of the restaurant experience for weeks, if not months, I get it. I’m chomping at the bit as much as anyone to actually go OUT to eat.
In fact, for me, the Covid-19 restaurant ban has actually been a proving ground for determining which restaurants actually have good food and which I apparently go to for their ambiance or other factors. If all I can get is takeout, that takeout better be worth it! One type of restaurant whose food I’ve realized I genuinely miss? Poke bowl joints.
A wee bit of backstory: It took me until about age 30 before I ever acquiesced to eating sushi. Like most sushi-averse folks, the thought of eating raw fish seemed SO VERY WRONG. But eventually my husband convinced me to try a local sushi place with famously fresh rolls and my eyes were opened to the amazingness of this culinary wonder. After getting on the sushi bandwagon, you better believe poke bowls were an easy next step. I love their combo of mild and spicy flavors, and they can be surprisingly healthy, too!
Besides that, poke bowls are the Chipotle burritos of Asian food–convenient, customizable, and uncomplicated. And, even though we can’t eat them at restaurants at the moment, they’re pretty easy to make at home. This version is super budget-friendly, using canned tuna and canned crab (I know, it could be a lot fancier with sushi-grade tuna, but we’re going for inexpensive here, mmkay?) Topped with a spicy sriracha aioli–my favorite part of any poke bowl–these are a tasty at-home version of the fast-casual favorite.
So add what you like, take out what you like, and enjoy!
Easy Canned Tuna Poke Bowl
For the sriracha aioli:
- 1/2 c. mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp. sriracha sauce
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- salt, to taste
For the poke bowls:
- 1 1/2 c. dry white rice
- 10 oz. frozen edamame
- 5.3 oz. can albacore tuna packed in water, drained
- 6 oz. can white crab meat, drained
- 1 c. shredded carrot
- 1 c. cucumber, diced
- fried onions, for garnish
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- sliced green onions, for garnish
Make the sriracha aioli:
- In a measuring cup, whisk together all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the bowls:
- In a large pot, make rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, microwave edamame according to package directions and prep all other ingredients.
- Assemble 4 individual bowls, dividing rice, edamame, tuna, crab, carrot, and cucumber among all. Garnish with fried onions, sesame seeds, and green onions. Top with sriracha aioli.
I could sit down with a good cookbook like a good novel. A nice night in, to me, is poring over a new cookbook, imagining each step of each recipe, and picturing the delicious finished product. It’s basically the equivalent of fantasy fiction for cooks.
With a fairly large collection of cookbooks (plus compulsively checking them out from the library, as I do) there are always those recipes I bookmark during my perusing and think, I’ll make that eventually. But time goes by, I find new and exciting ideas on Pinterest, and sometimes things I think I’ll make fall by the wayside.
These Herbed Tuna in Heirloom Tomatoes are one such recipe.
For years I’ve been a fan of Real Simple’s line of cookbooks, and this recipe called out to me from Meals Made Easy as long ago as–dare I admit it–2009. I thought it looked healthy, easy, and bit unique. I mean, how often do you put fish in a tomato? Sounds kinda weird…but not in a bad way. Plus, I find the idea of food as its own serving container ADORABLE and kind of a genius way to minimize on doing dishes.
The thing is, though, heirloom tomatoes are only in season so often. And even when they are, I usually pass them by in the grocery store, thinking they’re just a little too fabulous for me. They’re the fine china of vegetables: Fancy and gorgeous, but really? For everyday?
You know what, though? Yes! Why NOT splurge on something as healthy (not to mention gorgeous) as heirloom tomatoes? I picked up these multi-colored models yesterday determined to finally put fish in a dang tomato!
The results were worth the wait. (Of ten years, haha.) I really enjoyed not only the process of stuffing these heirlooms for unique presentation, but also the fun of eating them. The tuna mixture is flavored with a Mediterranean profile of lemon juice, olive oil, capers, parsley, and pepper, but could be played with any way you like. Plus, if you have dietary restrictions like gluten-free or dairy-free, these fit the bill.
Give them a try for a tasty, healthy, seasonal summer lunch!
Herbed Tuna in Heirloom Tomatoes
- 3-4 large heirloom tomatoes
- 2 6-oz. cans tuna, drained, preferably albacore packed in olive oil
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 Tbsp. capers
- 1/3 c. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- drizzle olive oil, if you used tuna packed in water
- Using a paring knife, slice a circle in the top of each tomato. Scoop the flesh out of tomatoes, leaving about a 1/4 inch-thick tomato "shell." Drain any excess water out of the flesh you've scooped and dice it into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces.
- Place diced tomato in a mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and mix to combine.
- Scoop the mixture into your tomato shells and serve.
Smoked salmon is one of those foods that polarizes people. You either love it or hate it. I happen to fall into the former category. I love smoked salmon for its high omega 3 content, its smoky flavor, its chewy coolness, and the way it slices so clean with a sharp knife.
My husband, on the other hand, falls into the “hate-with-the-heat-of-a-thousand-burning-suns,” “vomit-vomit-vomit” smoked salmon camp.
It’s ok. I get it. It’s an acquired taste–and even more so, and acquired texture. (Is that a thing, “acquired texture”? That’s going to be my new phrase for velour jumpsuits and those reversible sequin unicorn pillows my 7-year-old adores.) Anyway, it’s all right if the cold-and-clammy texture of raw fish doesn’t appeal to you. But I think there’s still hope for you to like smoked salmon in the form of this delicious Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip.
Although the signature taste of smoked salmon comes through in this appetizer, its usual fishy texture is nowhere to be found, pulverized into oblivion by your friendly food processor. What’s left, when blended with cream cheese, lemon juice, horseradish, fresh dill, chives, and a few other simple ingredients, is a creamy, herby dip that’s perfection on butter crackers, crudités, or as a spread on toast.
Since my husband and kids aren’t fans of smoked salmon in any form, I’ve been powering through an entire batch of this by myself this past week, and I am not mad about it. Now that we’re a couple of days into Lent, which means no meat on Fridays for me, I plan to make it again as a staple for a light lunch. But it would serve just as well in a brunch, a classy baby shower buffet, or as a pre-dinner appetizer.
So how about you? Where do you stand in the Smoked Salmon Debate? And do you think this tasty dip could change your mind? Let me know in the comments!
Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip
- 4 oz. smoked salmon
- 8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp. fresh dill
- 2 Tbsp. fresh chives
- 2 tsp. cream-style horseradish
- 1/4 c. mayonnaise
- 1/4 c. 2% plain Greek yogurt
- Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until well blended and consistency reaches your liking. Serve with crackers, fresh vegetables, or on toast or bagels. Store covered in the refrigerator.
I’ll be honest. This is a rather polarizing salad. At least in my house it is. I contend that the flavors of tart grapefruit, mild mahimahi, creamy avocado, and a lime-honey vinaigrette all mixed up together make for an explosion of deliciously contrasting flavors and textures. The rest of my family, on the other hand, is not so keen.
Grapefruit isn’t just an acquired taste. Apparently our taste perception of it and several other bitter foods depends on our genetics. (So I can give my husband and kids a pass.) But if you’re one of those fortunate people who can enjoy grapefruit, now is the time to do so–at least in Arizona, where we live.
This grapefruity recipe comes from Real Simple, a magazine that generally lives up to its name. But to take a simple recipe and make it even easier for weeknight dinnertime, I swapped out grilled fresh mahimahi for Trader Joe’s frozen mahimahi burgers. They may not be quite as pretty as grilled fillets, but these burgers, diced, turned assembly of this salad into a total breeze. Plus, they’re a WHOLE lot less expensive than what my regular grocery store charges for mahimahi.
I enjoyed this flavor combo so much on Thursday evening that I recreated it for my Lenten Fish Friday. If you observe Lent or just need a light, refreshing, easy lunch or dinner, you can’t go wrong with this healthy salad…
…unless you’re genetically predisposed to hate grapefruit.
Spinach Salad with Mahimahi, Grapefruit, and Avocado
For the salad:
- 1 package 4 frozen mahimahi burgers, such as Trader Joe's
- 8 c. fresh spinach
- 1 grapefruit, sliced into 1/2-inch segments
- 1 avocado, diced
For the dressing:
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp. honey
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Prepare mahimahi burgers according to instructions on box. Meanwhile, spread spinach on a large platter. Top with grapefruit segments and diced avocado. When mahimahi burgers are done cooking, slice them into pieces and spread over salad.
- Make the dressing: in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together all ingredients. Toss salad with dressing or serve on the side.
Is it just me, or does it feel like it’s really trendy to eat things in bowls right now? Poke bowls, burrito bowls, Buddha bowls (what even IS a Buddha bowl?) Taco Bell has “Power Menu Bowl,” while KFC offers a mashed potato-chicken bowl, which has the dubious honor of making Time Magazine’s 10 Worst Fast Food Meals). Burrrrn.
The take-home message of the Bowl Movement (don’t think too hard about that phrase) seems to be that you can throw a wide variety of foods together in a bowl and watch them play nice as a one-dish meal. I don’t really care about being trendy, but I can definitely get behind the idea of protein, starch, fruits, and/or veggies all mixed up in one tasty package. Kinda like some other recipes I like.
This bowl I’m featuring today combines jerk-seasoned salmon, black beans, rice, and a zesty mango salsa for a refreshing, healthy catch-all dinner or lunch. The pan-frying method of cooking the salmon in this recipe gives it a restaurant-quality, almost-but-not-quite crispy on the outside texture that complements the cool sweetness and tender texture of the avocado-mango salsa. Sturdy staples of black beans and rice round out the equation. When serving, separate it into sections (as pictured), or stir it all together. There’s no wrong way to eat a bowl.
Especially if you’re observing Lent, this is a great one for meat-free days, or any time you’re looking for a light meal packed with nutrition.
Jerk Salmon Bowl with Mango Salsa
- 1 avocado, diced
- 2 c. mango, diced
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/2 c cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 lime
- salt, to taste
- 1 lb. wild-caught salmon, skin removed
- 1/2 tsp. curry powder
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. allspice
- 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 1/2. c. cooked white rice
Make the salsa:
- In a medium bowl, stir together avocado, mango, red onion, and cilantro. Squeeze juice of 1/2 lime onto mixture and stir again. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
Cook the salmon:
- In a small bowl, combine spices (curry powder through cumin). Rub over both sides of salmon. Heat olive oil over medium-high in a large non-stick skillet. Add salmon and cook 3-5 minutes per side. Break salmon into chunks and continue to cook until no longer translucent. Remove from heat.
Assemble the bowls:
- Divide rice, beans, salmon, and salsa between four bowls. Serve immediately.