These easy grilled chicken poke bowls are fresh, healthy and a fab way to get lots of veggies in. With juicy miso chicken thighs, proper sushi rice, a super punchy dressing and crunchy toppings, you’ll want to make them again and again.
Poke bowls are one of my absolute favourite things to make, especially on busy weeknights. They’re delicious, healthy, an easy way to get lots of vegetables in and brilliant for using up leftovers. And making them yourself is so much better than getting a takeaway! You can control what goes on top and really make them how you like them.
While there are a few steps involved here, there’s not a lot of hands-on time at all, and making it all from scratch means it all tastes SO much better. It’s also great because a lot of the cooking can be done at the same time. You can start the rice while the chicken is cooking in the oven and chop the veggies and make the dressing while the rice is cooking, which means your prep and cooking time is sliced in half.
It’s also a wonderful way to use up any leftover roast meat you might have – I love using the scraps of a roast chicken for this!
In this post – everything you need for making these bowls
- What are poke bowls?
- Ingredients you’ll need
- How to make the bowls
- Optional add-ons
- Your questions answered
What are poke bowls?
Poke bowls are essentially loaded rice bowls. They’re traditionally from Hawaii and consist of raw, marinated fish (normally tuna) chopped up and piled on top of sushi rice with lots of fresh vegetables and a couple of delicious sauces. You can kind of think of them as deconstructed sushi.
While poke does refer to marinated raw fish, ‘poke bowl’ has now become a common term for all kinds of rice bowls topped with delicious things. This grilled chicken version is just one example – you can really get creative with toppings, which is why it’s such a wonderful meal.
The great thing about these bowls is you can really make them your own based on whatever you might have in your fridge. I’m listing my favourite crunchy veggie toppings here, but you really can play around based on what you have and what you like.
- The grilled chicken. I’m using my go-to miso grilled chicken in this bowl because I love it A LOT and it’s delicious here, plus it’s super easy. You just need miso paste, honey, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and olive oil.
- The rice. Traditionally, poke is made with short-grain, sushi rice because it’s got that sticky consistency. That’s what I’m using here but if you can’t find it or don’t have any, you can use any other white rice (like jasmine or basmati).
- The toppings. I’ve gone for cucumber, carrot, spring onion, coriander and a little red chilli because they’re all regular things I often have in my fridge. You can switch things up though – I love using shredded white or red cabbage, blanched broccoli, edamame beans or cauliflower.
- The dressing. This again uses standard cupboard ingredients you should already have – rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, lime, garlic, ginger and chilli jam (or honey or sweet chilli sauce if you don’t have any). The dressing is pretty key here and provides a lot of flavours, so don’t skimp on it!
How to make the bowls
I’m going to break the recipe down into easy-to-manage chunks, and lots of this can be happening at the same time, or while you’re waiting for things to cool or marinate.
Start by marinating the chicken. Mix miso paste, rice vinegar, grated garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce and olive oil (doing this with a fork helps break down the miso and makes mixing easier). Combine with the chicken in a bowl or container and mix thoroughly. Pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
While the chicken is doing its thing in the fridge, make the rice. Rinse the rice in a colander under running water for a couple of minutes, then transfer it to a small pot. Cover with the water and pop over medium heat until the top starts to get a little bubbly. Once the top is bubbling, turn the heat to low and pop the lid on (or cover it with a plate). Cook for 18 minutes, without lifting the lid, or until all the water is absorbed. At this point, remove the pot from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes with the lid still on. After 10 minutes, transfer the rice to a shallow dish and pour over rice vinegar and a little salt. Mix this through the rice and leave it to cool while you prepare the rest of the bowl.
Get the oven on 200C/480F fan and transfer the chicken into an oven-proof dish. Cook it for 15 minutes, until it’s looking a little whiter. At this point, move the dish to the top of the oven and turn your grill (broiler) to the highest setting. Grill for 5 minutes, until charred and golden on top.
While the chicken is in the oven, make the dressing. Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice and chilli jam (or honey) in a small bowl. Grate the garlic straight into the bowl using a microplane (or use a garlic press or chop the garlic finely). You can also grate the ginger straight into the bowl and you don’t have to peel it if you’re doing it this way. Mix everything well to combine and set the bowl aside.
Chop the carrot into fine batons (or use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons), halve the cucumber and scoop the seeds out to stop it from becoming too watery in the bowl, then dice finely. Chop the scallions finely, along with the chilli.
Now it’s time to assemble the poke bowls! Divide the rice between bowls and top with the crunchy vegetables. Follow with the grilled chicken, chilli, cilantro, and scallions and finish with a very good drizzle of the dressing. Dollop on some garlic aioli and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and then you’re done!
PRO TIP: Another fun way to serve these bowls is buffet style, with the toppings all laid out for people to pick and choose what they’d like. This is also a fab idea for catering a party!
There are so many different toppings you can serve with these bowls – the recipe gives you an idea of what you could use but these are some great options you could think about:
- Chopped pineapple or mango. Poke bowls often include a tropical fruit for a juicy, sweet element and these are great choices.
- Edamame beans. You can now find frozen, podded edamame beans pretty easily in a supermarket and they’re a wonderful way to add another hit of protein to the bowls.
- Shredded cabbage. Use whatever cabbage you can find and try to slice it super finely – or you could use a packet of pre-shredded cabbage or slaw. It’s a great way to bulk out the bowls.
- Bean sprouts. These are fresh, crunchy and delicious and I love adding a handful to the bowls.
- Avocado. An absolute classic for a reason – avocado brings a gorgeous creamy element that pairs so well with the Asian flavours here.
- Crispy fried onions. You can buy these insanely addictive morsels at the supermarket and they provide a wonderful crunchy element to the bowls.
- Half mixed greens/half rice. If you’re trying to cut down on your carbs, you can use a base of mixed greens along with the rice to freshen things up. I love using rocket, spinach or crunchy curly leaf lettuce.
Got a question?
These bowls are BRILLIANT for making ahead of time. Everything can be prepared in advance, and then just assembled when you’re ready. They’re great for meal-prepping on a Sunday – make the rice, chicken, and dressing and chop up all the vegetables – store them in separate containers in the fridge and then just assemble them during the week when you need a quick meal. Everything should be used within 5 days. Breaking it down into chunks can make it a lot more approachable!
Short grain or sushi rice is the best for these bowls, but you really can use what you like. The cooking instructions will differ though, depending on the rice you’re using so just keep that in mind and follow the instructions on your packet.
You can! The beauty of these bowls is how versatile they are. Once you know the base recipe and method, you can really play with it and make it your own. Try using the miso marinade on steak, prawns or salmon, or use hot smoked salmon, or pre-cooked chicken to make it even easier. You can also make a vegetable the star – cauliflower, aubergine or sweet potato are brilliant, as is halloumi or tofu.
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If you make this recipe let me know how you go in the comments below! I love hearing how you get on with my creations.Print