Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl
This recipe is methodical. Besides being relatively new to cooking with meat - I was a vegetarian for 8 years - raw fish is a whole new ball game. But I've had a few poke bowls and ceviches in the passed year and I crave them all the time! So it was only a matter of time before I faced my fear of raw fish. I'm still standing, my digestion successfully assimilated this meal, and I'm going to share with you some tips and experiences I encountered along the way, as well as noting some of the ingredients that are in this recipe for a good reason.
1. | Cilantro and parsley
These two fresh herbs specifically have the ability to bind to heavy metals such as mercury in preparation for their departure from the body. Eating raw fish, specifically large fish, raises the risk of being exposed to mercury. Mercury and other heavy metals end up in the tissues if they're not properly chelated and bound to fibre, which is why there's such a risk in eating the flesh of fish.
The first step in removing heavy metals from the body is chelation, which is achieved by consuming herbs like parsley and cilantro, leafy greens, drinking lots of water, or lemon. The second step is binding, which is where soluble fibre comes in. Fibre acts like a sponge to toxins pulled from the tissues, and incorporates them into waste for removal. Water is also very important in this step.
2. | Wasabi
Real wasabi, not the green horseradish commonly found unfortunately, has a historical purpose for being served with raw fish. It contains anti-microbial properties which counteracts some of the risk in eating fish that isn't cooked. If you can find real Japanese wasabi, it serves as an excellent addition to the base of our marinade in this recipe.
3. | Seaweed
This fantastic and flavourful ingredient contains a trace mineral that in mainland communities such as Kelowna we lack in our soil/ environment. Its absense (a deficiency) is linked to thyroid problems due to its integral role in making thyroid hormones. Eating sea food, algae, seaweeds or supplementing with iodine combat a deficiency. Flavour-wise, it also pairs really well with seafood dishes.
4. | Jade Pearl Rice
Pearl rice has a consistency similar when cooked to the typical sticky rice you find in sushi dishes. Jade Pearl rice has had bamboo extract added, which infuses the rice with silica, chlorophyll and trace minerals. It's a beautiful pastel green hue as well!
5. | Broccoli Sprouts
These little micro greens are packed with enzymes and glucosinolates which effectively produce sulforaphane, a very protective molecule that acts in many ways to combat heavy metal toxicity. For one, broccoli sprouts are naturally detoxifying just like many green, chlorophyll containing vegetables. But broccoli sprouts also work on the brain and the myelin sheaths, which is one of the places heavy metals deteriorate if they aren't recycled from the body.
I'm not outlining these things to scare you away from eating seafood or raw seafood. Rather, I believe the nutritional benefits outweigh the possibility that fish contain some level of mercury. It's also to highlight the importance of functional food, and how you can utilize ingredients to serve a larger purpose in your diet. Perhaps most importantly is to be picky about the fish we buy: choosing local, line-caught, and avoiding farmed fish decreases the possibility of mercury contamination.
Serves: 4 meal-sized portions
1 lb of fresh, sushi grade ahi tuna*
1 cup (uncooked) Jade Pearl Rice*, cooked according to package
1 English cucumber, sliced thin
5-6 radishes, sliced and placed in apple cider vinegar for 1 hour prior*
1 mango, cubed
2 ripe avocados, cubed
1 cup of mixed sprouts (I used broccoli sprouts and pea shoots)
Bunch of fresh cilantro
Bunch of fresh parsley
4 small nori Sea Snax nori seaweed sheets
Optional, pickled ginger for garnish
1/4 cup Braggs coconut aminos*
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp wasabi paste
1. | This step depends on the fish you buy. I went to a fish market, Codfathers, in Kelowna and spoke with a woman who told me that if I wanted to make the ahi tuna they had fresh on ice sushi grade, I'd first have to freeze it. She explained that usually, fish is flash frozen then thawed for sale, and what I gather is that from this process, any bacterial growth or contamination is avoided. Because this ahi tuna was local and in season, it hadn't been frozen yet. This is a long way of telling you that in this case I froze the tuna in an airlocked freezer bag overnight, then thawed it (in the freezer bag) in a pot of cold water for about 3 hours the next morning (picture above). If the fish you purchase is already sushi grade, you can skip the freezing step.
2. | Slice the radishes and place them in a small container, then pour enough apple cider vinegar on top so they are all immersed. (Optional: add sea salt, pepper, and dried herbs). Let this marinade in the fridge while you cook the rice.
3. | Cook the Jade Pearl rice according to the package.
4. | Prepare the marinade in a medium sized bowl by adding in each ingredient and stirring a few times. Remove the fish from the fridge (or from the cold water bath if you're thawing it), and using a large knife, chop it into equally sized cubes. Place the chopped fish in the marinade and set in the fridge while the rice cooks.
5. | Slice the cucumber and cube the mango & avocados. Rinse, dry and de-stem the cilantro and parsley.
6. | In four bowls, scoop out some rice, followed by the sprouts, parsley, and cilantro. Add the cucumbers and pickled radishes, avocado, mango, then a palm-sized portion of marinated ahi tuna. To garnish, break apart a piece of nori seaweed and place a few pieces of pickled ginger on top.
1. | Please ensure you are purchasing sushi grade fish for this recipe. Ideally, shop at a fish market where the vendors can tell you exactly which can be eaten raw and how to use it safely
2. | Jade Pearl rice can be substituted with sticky rice or short grain brown rice. It's used in this recipe for its additional nutritional benefits and likeness to sticky rice in consistency.
3. | Quick-pickling radishes isn't necessary, but it does add a lovely tangy taste to this recipe
4. | Braggs coconut aminos can be substituted for tamari or soy sauce. I use the coconut aminos because they're gluten free and lower in sodium
5. | Leftover ahi tuna should be left in its marinade in the fridge at all times when not being served. It should be used within 2-3 days to avoid contamination or bacterial growth.