Happy summer! Gardens here aren’t quite in the thick of the season but I’ve been tempted by all the lovely produce that’s been turning up at my local market. We are in the middle of a horribly dreary week, and something bright and fresh was needed to lift my spirits. Life has been unusually stressful the last month or so, and it’s been challenging to find the time for any self-care, and that has included a chance to cook and create new recipes.
To be honest, it’s a stretch to call this a poke bowl, but that was my original intention. I’ve seen different versions turn up here and there and I posted a Thai inspired watermelon salad a few years back. I started with the idea of recreating my favorite poke but ended up with something that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Fresh watermelon makes a great stand-in for conventional tuna, but instead of a traditional soy and sesame dressing, I decided to experiment with a spicy coconut milk dressing instead. Spiked with fish sauce, Thai chilis, ginger, and lime it’s the perfect balance to the sweetness of the watermelon. To mix things up even further I served the watermelon over forbidden black rice, added lots of fresh herbs, toasted coconut, macadamia nuts and sea beans.
Sea beans, otherwise known as samphire, glasswort, or sea asparagus, are usually harvested along the seashore but are now being commercially grown or can be ordered from specialty producers. I’m lucky enough to find them at several of my local markets and have been experimenting with them in some of my favorite dishes. They have a crunchy texture, reminiscent of a snap pea with a briny salty bite that works wonderfully in this bowl. If you can’t find them just leave them out, but if you can find them, they are well worth trying.
I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if I’d be into a vegetable-based version of my favorite thing in the world but I absolutely loved this bowl. I used fish sauce in the dressing but you can substitute soy sauce to make this vegan. I am glad that I tried it this early in the season so I have months to enjoy this bowl over and over. Light, refreshing and easy to put together, it would also make the perfect desk lunch. You can prep the ingredients ahead of time, just wait to add the dressing right before serving.
If you try this watermelon poke bowk, I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a picture #scalingback on Instagram so I can see what you came up with! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat (username: jeffers.tina)
- For the spicy coconut dressing:
- ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about one small lime)
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (sub soy sauce if vegan)
- 1 Thai chile, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
- For the poke bowl:
- 4 cups watermelon (rind and seeds removed and cut into 1-inch chunks)
- 2 cups forbidden rice, cooked
- 1 cucumber (peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, pitted and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup sea beans
- ¼ cup toasted coconut
- ¼ cup lightly packed mint leaves, minced
- ¼ cup lightly packed basil leaves, minced
- ¼ cup roasted macadamia nuts, chopped
- In a medium mason jar, add the coconut milk, lime juice, coconut sugar, fish sauce, Thai chile, ginger and chopped mint. Cover, and shake well to combine. Taste and adjust as needed adding a bit more lime juice to brighten or a bit more sugar to balance the acid.
- To serve, divide the rice, watermelon, cucumber, and avocado between four plates. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the dressing over the salad and then top with the sea beans, toasted coconut, mint, basil and macadamia nuts.