Can You Use Frozen Ahi Tuna for Poke Bowls?

Poke bowls have become a popular meal option, featuring fresh raw tuna cubes mixed with flavors like soy sauce, sesame, and vegetables While fresh-caught tuna is ideal, high-quality frozen tuna can also make delicious poke bowls at home Here’s what you need to know about using frozen ahi tuna for poke.

What is Ahi Tuna?

Ahi tuna, also sometimes called yellowfin tuna, refers to the Thunnus albacares species of tuna. It has a tender texture and mild, sweet flavor that makes it perfect for eating raw in dishes like poke and sushi.

Freshly caught ahi is best, but not always easy to find. Frozen ahi tuna that was processed shortly after catching can be a good alternative. Make sure to purchase high-quality frozen tuna marketed as “sushi-grade” or “sashimi-grade”.

Buying Frozen Ahi Tuna for Poke Bowls

When buying frozen tuna, you want to make sure it’s ultra fresh and handled properly to avoid contamination. Here are some tips:

  • Purchase tuna labelled as “sushi-grade” or “sashimi-grade”. This means it is safe to eat raw.

  • Check the processing details. Opt for tuna frozen at sea shortly after catching.

  • Choose tuna frozen in individual steaks or chunks rather than blocks. This exposes less surface area to potential bacteria.

  • Look for tuna that is vacuum sealed and not sitting in pools of liquid which can lead to freezer burn.

  • Check for clear, solid ice crystals rather than large crystals or frost which indicate improper freezing.

  • Avoid any tuna with white or brown spots indicative of oxidation. Tunal should look vibrant red.

Some high-quality frozen tuna brands include Sea Ahi Yellowfin and Fresh Island Ahi. Ask your local fishmonger for a trusted recommendation for your area.

Thawing Frozen Ahi Tuna

Proper thawing is key to avoiding bacteria growth. Here are some safe ways to thaw frozen tuna steaks or chunks:

  • In the refrigerator: Place frozen tuna in a bowl to catch drips and thaw overnight in the fridge.

  • In cold water: Submerge vacuum-sealed frozen tuna in cold tap water, changing water every 30 mins until thawed. Takes 1-2 hours.

  • As part of marinating: Thaw tuna in soy sauce or other acidic marinade, which helps inhibit bacteria growth.

Once thawed, use the fresh raw tuna to make poke within 1-2 days for food safety. Don’t refreeze thawed tuna.

Making Poke Bowls with Frozen Ahi

Frozen tuna requires a little extra care when making poke bowls:

  • Allow 12-24 hours for safe thawing in the fridge. Don’t quick thaw at room temperature.

  • Pat the tuna dry before cutting to remove excess moisture from freezing.

  • Cut the tuna into smaller 1/2″ cubes to allow marinade to penetrate.

  • Marinate for at least 30 minutes, ideally 1-2 hours since the tuna wasn’t previously marinated.

  • Use slightly less soy sauce or lemon juice in marinade if the tuna released liquid during thawing.

  • Store marinated poke in the coldest part of the fridge and enjoy within 24 hours.

With proper handling, frozen ahi can make delicious poke bowls at home. Here is an easy recipe to try:

Frozen Ahi Poke Bowl Recipe


  • 1 lb frozen ahi tuna steak, thawed
  • 1⁄4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds


  1. Thaw frozen ahi tuna steak overnight in the refrigerator. Pat dry and cut into 1/2″ cubes.

  2. In a bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and green onion.

  3. Add tuna cubes and sesame seeds to bowl with marinade. Mix well and marinate 30 mins up to 2 hours.

  4. Serve poke over sushi rice or greens. Top with avocado, mango, or extra green onion. Enjoy immediately.

Two BEST Ways to Thaw Your Frozen Poke Kit!


Can you use frozen ahi tuna steak for poke?

I’ve also used frozen tuna steaks from multiple grocers (HEB is usually where I get them) which go for ~$7.99 a pound, and the quality is still very solid and you’ll hardly notice a difference in the end product.

Can you use frozen tuna for sushi?

To ensure that your at-home sushi or tuna steak is free of parasites, you should pick frozen tuna or tuna marked as sushi-grade from an established market. It’s just as delicious as fresh tuna and it’s equally nutritious.

Can frozen fish be used for poke?

Yes, poke may be prepared with frozen fish

Can you use frozen tuna for poke?

Yes, raw. This is one reason why tuna is very commonly used — tuna poke is safe because these species rarely harbor internal parasites. Here is a run-down on food safety for ceviche and other raw fish dishes, if you are interested. Poke with most other fish needs to be made with previously frozen fish, and yes, you can use frozen tuna for poke.

Is ahi tuna poke Bowl healthy?

Yep, as long as you don’t go overboard on the rice or sauce. Ahi tuna poke bowl calories tend to be pretty low, depending on your tuna bowl toppings, however the rice and oil in the poke marinade can add up quickly. The fish delivers a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids while the vegetables add a ton of other nutrients.

How do you make a ahi tuna poke Bowl?

Double the marinade and divide into two bowl. Mix the fish with one half of the marinade. Add a tablespoon of mayonnaise to the second bowl and mix to combine. When you’re finished building your bowl, drizzle the creamy poke sauce over the top. You could also use Boom Boom Sauce. The longest part of making an ahi tuna poke bowl is the sushi rice.

How do you make poke sauce with tuna?

Make the poke sauce. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar. Next, stir in the red pepper flakes, green onions and sesame seeds. Marinate the tuna. Use a sharp knife to cube the tuna – I usually aim for 1/2-inch pieces, but you do what you like. Transfer the mixing bowl and stir to coat the tuna in the sauce.

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