Note: We Want The Sauce is reader supported. If you make a purchase through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission - at no extra cost to you. This includes links to Amazon.

What Is Poke Sauce? – All You Need To Know

Spread the love

Have you ever found yourself staring at a menu in a Hawaiian restaurant, wondering what poke sauce is?

Or maybe you’ve tried poke bowls before and want to recreate the experience at home.

Whatever your reason, understanding poke sauce is key to ensuring you are happy to order it, and enjoying it if you do.

Here’s what you need to know about poke sauce, from its ingredients to how to make it yourself.

What Is Poke Sauce?

Poke sauce is a flavorful Hawaiian condiment made with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sweeteners like honey or sugar, and often chili for heat, used primarily to season the raw fish in poke bowls.

What Is Poke Sauce Made Of?

Poke sauce is typically made of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sweeteners such as honey or sugar, and may include chili flakes, ginger, and garlic for added depth and a hint of spice.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is the foundational ingredient in poke sauce, offering a deep umami flavor.

It’s a fermented product made from soybeans, wheat, salt, and fermenting agents, which gives poke sauce its characteristic savory taste.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil provides a rich, nutty flavor to the poke sauce.

Extracted from sesame seeds, this oil enhances the depth of the sauce and adds a subtle aroma that complements the freshness of the raw fish in poke bowls.

Rice Vinegar

Rice vinegar adds a mild acidity to the poke sauce, balancing the richness of the other ingredients.

It’s made from fermented rice and is sweeter and less acidic than other vinegars, which makes it perfect for the delicate flavors in poke.

Honey or Sugar

Sweet elements like honey or sugar counteract the saltiness of the soy sauce and the sharpness of the vinegar.

They bring a gentle sweetness to the poke sauce, creating a more rounded and complex flavor profile.

Chili Flakes or Hot Sauce

For those who enjoy a bit of heat, chili flakes or hot sauce can be added to poke sauce.

These ingredients introduce a spicy kick that can be adjusted according to personal heat tolerance and preference.


Ginger offers a fresh, zesty note to the poke sauce.

Its sharp, peppery flavor and slight sweetness make it an essential component, providing a burst of freshness that pairs well with the raw qualities of poke.


Garlic is a key aromatic in poke sauce, contributing a pungent, earthy flavor that’s mellowed out during the mixing process.

It infuses the sauce with a depth of flavor that is fundamental to the overall taste of the dish.

What Does Poke Sauce Taste Like?

Poke sauce tastes savory with a balance of sweet, tangy, and nutty flavors, often with a hint of spice.

What To Eat Poke Sauce With?

Poke sauce is incredibly versatile and while it’s a staple in poke bowls, it can also be used in various other dishes:

Poke Bowls

When using poke sauce in poke bowls, drizzle it generously over the top of your fresh, cubed fish to enhance its natural flavors.

The sauce marries well with sushi-grade tuna or salmon.

Add a variety of textures with diced cucumber, avocado, and crispy onions for a delightful experience.


When enjoying sushi, use poke sauce as a dipping alternative to soy sauce for a more complex flavor.

Its combination of sweet, tangy, and spicy can elevate the taste of sushi rolls, particularly those with tempura or raw fish fillings.

As A Salad Dressings

Poke sauce can be an exotic salad dressing.

Mix it with a bit of olive oil to thin it out and toss it with mixed greens, shredded carrots, and sliced radishes.

The sauce’s savory notes will give a new twist to your regular salads.

As A Marinade

For a marinade, let your protein or vegetables soak in poke sauce for at least 30 minutes before cooking to infuse them with flavor.

It’s especially good with chicken or tofu, which absorb the sauce’s flavors well, resulting in a tasty, umami-rich dish.

As A Dipping Sauce

Poke sauce makes for a great dipping sauce.

Serve it alongside dumplings, spring rolls, or tempura.

Its rich flavor profile can stand up to a variety of textures and tastes, making it a versatile dip for many appetizers.

What Is Similar To Poke Sauce?

While poke sauce is unique, it shares similarities with other Asian-inspired sauces like teriyaki or sweet chili sauce.

However, poke sauce is typically less sweet and more balanced in flavor, designed to complement the delicate taste of raw fish.

Related Questions

Is Poke Sauce The Same As Soy Sauce?

While soy sauce is a key ingredient, poke sauce is a blend that includes additional flavors and ingredients.

Can I Make Poke Sauce At Home?

Absolutely! It’s simple to mix together the ingredients listed above to create your own poke sauce.

Spread the love