Sometimes my status as a healthy hedonist comes into direct conflict with the fact that, at heart, I am a basic bitch.
I know that might be hard to believe. Not of course that I am both of these things, but that a love of avocado toast and kale salad would somehow present a conflict.
Healthy fats and leafy greens are not the problem, though. It’s the sushi.
I am a rare urban creature that is referred to as a “lifer.” I was born in New York City. I was raised in New York City. And for the foreseeable future, New York City is where I’ll stay.
When people learn this, their reaction is a mix of fear, awe and confusion. “But you’re so…normal,” they say. “You’re polite to wait staff. You’ve never been to rehab…”
I think their real surprise, though, is that I’m just not that sushi.
Can someone be sushi, you ask? Let me explain…
Before “basic bitch” there was “sushi” as an adjective, thanks to a brilliant internet meme from seven years ago sushi with my girls, which included a long list of criteria that would make you “so sushi.” Things like being named Leora, Jordan or Jenna; going to summer camp in Maine; having a very close gay friend; using a lot of smiley faces; saying AMAZING.
And, of course, LOVING sushi.
In short, it was a parody of Jappy girls who grew up on the Upper West Side; Blair Waldorf’s Jewish second cousins once removed across town. And as one of those girls who definitely falls somewhere on the sushi continuum, I can say that the list was hilarious.
In high school, I definitely owned Mavi jeans and spent way too much of my allowance on Filofax accessories. Today the crunchy granola aspects of my childhood have slowly overtaken over the sushi-ness of my teenage environment. But I still have my basic side. My sushi side. And that side has an actual love of sushi that runs deep. It’s AMAZE!
Over the last few years, thanks to the wellness project, I’ve cut back big time on my sushi intake. The main reason is mercury. Those slices of ahi sashimi and spicy tuna rolls are problematic for your heavy metal count. If you’re not familiar with which fish have high mercury levels, make sure to brush up on this post about the healthiest, most sustainable fish.
To balance my healthy hedonism with my love of maki rolls, I try to only get sushi once a month. When I do, I stick to salmon and only get one or two pieces of tuna. (Toro handrolls at Sugarfish only count as one…which might be the sushiest thing I’ve ever said…).
If you want to read more about better choices at the sushi counter, Mark Bittman wrote a great article about it here.
For the rest of you, I have another solution. A way to have your ahi tuna poke bowl and eat it too: add a little cilantro.
First of all, in case you weren’t aware of the trends, poke bowls are the new sushi. I document my obsession with this Hawaiian specialty–a combination of diced raw fish and various Japanese-influenced condiments–here. They’re also one of my favorite things to make at home. It’s a lot more versatile than trying to roll your own maki, which according to the laws of Jiro, takes 5+ years of training just to get the rice ratio right.
My go-to salmon poke bowl recipe is a reader favorite in these parts, and was inducted into the blogger hall of fame by getting included in the new cookbook Beyond The Plate (scroll to the bottom for a chance to win a copy and to meet me in person tonight!). It’s such a cool collection of recipes from bloggers around the world, and I’m honored to have my salmon poke bowl prowess featured!
Recently, I’ve been allowing myself to play around with tuna in the kitchen. And to offset the mercury factor, I make my ahi poke bowls with cilantro and cabbage, which are two of nature’s best chelating agents. Meaning, they help your liver detox from heavy metals like mercury.
Now that the weather is warmer, this quick and easy ahi tuna poke recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal. The cilantro-ginger sauce is creamy, punchy and comes together fast in a food processor. The cabbage is quick pickled, and can simply marinate on the countertop while your sushi rice is cooking. A sprinkle of nori and a lime wedge are all you need to garnish.
Whether you wear your basic, sushi tendencies on the outside, or keep them hidden underneath a crunchy healthy hedonist exterior, these bowls are the perfect union for both sides of your personality.
Jump to the comments to enter to win a copy of Beyond the Plate!!
Tuna Poke Bowls with Quick Pickled Cabbage and Cilantro-Ginger Sauce
- 1 cup sushi rice
- 4 cups finely shredded purple cabbage , about a quarter head
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari , soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1 pound ahi tuna , cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup cilantro-ginger sauce (recipe follows)
- 2 sheets nori , thinly sliced or torn
- In a fine mesh sieve, rinse the sushi rice under warm water until it runs clear. Place in a small saucepan with 1 ½ cups water. Allow to sit in the water for 15 minutes. Then bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and rest for 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and divide between 4 bowls.
- Meanwhile, make the cilantro-ginger sauce (recipe follows) and the cabbage: in a medium mixing bowl, toss the cabbage with the lemon juice, vinegar, tamari, sea salt, and honey. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, stirring one halfway through.
- To serve, divide the rice, quick pickled cabbage (with it’s liquid), and tuna between four bowls. Top with the cilantro-ginger sauce and garnish with the nori strips.
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 small shallot (or 1/4 cup finely chopped chives)
- 1- inch fresh ginger root , peeled
- 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup of water and puree. Add another 1/4 cup water and process until the sauce is vibrant green, smooth and the consistency of salad dressing.
Your writing cracks me up. I usually have resting bitch face when reading some people’s posts. But, you gave me a few smirks this morning so cheers to you!
I’m a pretty picky eater so I was pretty surprised when I thought to myself “I actually don’t think I’d substitute any ingredients here. Looks good!”
The only think I’d add is liquor. In a separate glass. For the feel goods.
Phoebe Lapine says
As someone who also often has resting bitch face, I am deeply flattered!! Liquor in a separate glass sounds like the perfect accompaniment. It’s sad there was no prop sake to sip after this shoot. Next time!
Dan Page says
Hey Big Girl : Try adding ; fresh pineapple , cantalope , watermellon , apricot & green seaweed to your bowl . White seabass makes the best poke but calico bass , ling cod ,
cava cava and cabazon are all good too .
Good eating , Captain Dan R. Page ( ret)
dixya @food, pleasure, and health says
i had my first ever poke bowl and absolutely loved it. I have been wanting to make it at home but im not sure how to pick the right tuna…
Phoebe Lapine says
you will be addicted! be warned! The fish counter will specify sushi grade. Yellowfin works too. When in doubt, I always add a little acid to it and give it a stir. Helps kill any lingering surface bacteria. I make raw fish all the time at home and have never had a problem!
You lost me at the mention of cilantro. I am one of *those* people who cannot tolerate that evil green herb but barring that, it looks absolutely delicious! I am anxious for your book the look to help with a disorder called CRPS complex regional pain syndrome (formerly RSD–reflex sympathetic dystrophy)
Phoebe Lapine says
oh no!! well for the record, it would be delicious with a mix of mint and chives. Or even basil! Sorry to hear about CRPS. I don’t know much about it, but I’m sure all the basics of The Wellness Project can help in some way. We could all benefit from finding the balance between health and hedonism with diet, hydration, sleep, product pantry, etc! Be well xoxox
Curious: what are neutral oils and why are they important?
Phoebe Lapine says
it’s just a flavor thing. EVOO has a very distinct taste that doesn’t mesh as well with Asian condiments. A safflower, canola, light sesame oil or grapeseed oil works well. But honestly, I often just use EVOO and that’s fine too!
Phoebe! I love everything about this recipe, I love the cilantro sauce that sound just great to go with the rest of the ingredients and give them a little kick! love, love love it. You made me laugh about “you are so normal” as we say on my neck of the woods: You only have to be alive to heard the weirdest things!
Phoebe Lapine says
haha ain’t it the truth!!