The Affordable Way To Enjoy Tuna Poke Bowls

Canned tuna is about as reliable a gastronomic workhorse as they come. It's packed with protein and omega-3s, shelf stable, and wicked affordable. If you've been restraining your canned tuna exclusively to tuna salad servitude, it's time to extricate that humble ingredient from those unglamorous shackles. That's right — it's time to swap out raw sashimi-grade tuna fish with good old canned tuna for your poke bowls. Now we'll admit that, aesthetically speaking, canned tuna isn't great. That's why it needs to be glammed up with some other quality ingredients to make this already-delicious umami bomb even greater than the sum of its parts. Enter the canned tuna poke bowl. To whip up a killer variation on the classic, simply sub in canned tuna for the raw sashimi-grade tuna steak you might normally use — no other recipe alterations needed.

Replacing high-quality raw tuna with the canned stuff may seem like a pretty major swap, but it'll still pack a big fishy flavor, while setting you back a fraction of the cost. At the iconic Fulton Fish Market, two 7 to 9-ounce sushi-grade Wild Ahi tuna steaks will cost you around $50. While at Target, you can snag a four-pack of 5-ounce StarKist Chunk Light Tuna cans for closer to $5, roughly $1.20 per serving.

Get thrifty with it

For first-time "pokers" looking for a jumping-off point, we've got you. The first step to poke-bowl-stardom is to make some rice; white, brown, and jasmine are all fine. Then, simply load up your thrifty poke bowl with a can of tuna and some affordable ingredients from the supermarket: veggies. We've rounded up a few prices from Whole Foods to help illustrate what we mean. If you top your saucy tuna and rice bowl with half a sliced cucumber ($0.45), half an avocado ($1.00), a few peels of fresh carrot ($0.50), and some chopped green onions ($0.33), your combined toppings should clock in under $3 per serving.

To top it all off, finish your canned tuna poke bowl with a luxurious, flavorful homemade dressing. Cilantro lime aioli, sriracha mayo, plum jelly and oyster sauce, or sticky orange ginger glaze would all make beautiful accouterments. If you're feeling stuck, pretty much any combination of umami-rich Kewpie mayonnaise, soy sauce, and some other third condiment makes a reliable knockout dressing for tuna poke bowls. Gochujang, miso, fermented red chili paste, orange marmalade, sesame oil, and grape jam are all fair game.

This thrifty canned tuna poke bowl is also an outstanding make-ahead lunch, sturdy enough to hold up in the fridge. (Pro tip: If you're prepping the bowl the night before, pack your sliced veggies in a separate plastic container from the saucy-tuna-rice portion of the meal.)