I’ve often found that, the moment you tell someone you’re a chef, they immediately assume you’re all about “spherified” caviars and spuma-gunned foams. That stuff can be a lot of fun, but nothing gives me greater joy than a simple dish dressed up to celebrate the bounty of the season. I realise I’ve never shared any of my poke bowl recipes before now, but they’ve been a big lunchtime go-to for me for years, and they’re so easy to improvise. In anticipation for spring, I’ve added a flourish of seasonal florals (I know… groundbreaking). As much as we’ve started taking edible blooms for granted over the last decade, we continue to discover new and interesting varieties that can turn an otherwise uneventful dish into a wow moment – with not a cheffy gadget in sight!
FIRST BLOOM Poké BOWL
TIME: 1 hour | SERVES: 2
A FLAVOUR GUIDE TO THE BLOOMS IN THIS DISH
Heuchera (foliage): because of its tannin content, the foliage of the Heuchera plant adds a slightly bitter tang to a dish similar to the bitterness of tea or dark chocolate.
Red Amaranthus: subtly sweet and earthy reminiscent of mustard (but not as spicy) and a delicate “green” finish.
Swan River Daisy (Brachyscome): the taste is lovely; on the “herbaceous” side of the spectrum, with a hint of spice and a slight nuttiness.
Marigold (kakiebos): mildly citrusy to subtly spicy to, well, like a marigold (high in lutein, which is good for eye health, and is often used to colour food yellow)
Nasturtium: aromatic with a fragrance reminiscent of mustard and have a tender, mild, peppery, and slightly spicy taste.
Fennel flowers: a tender, subtly crisp texture, an anise-like aroma, and a sweet, herbaceous flavor with licorice nuances reminiscent of fennel seed. Bronze Fennel flowers have a sweet, subtly citrusy, licorice flavor similar to the plant’s seeds and leaves and are best used fresh as a finishing element. The flowers can be infused into oils to impart a warm, rich flavor, or they can be steeped into tea as a delicate, soothing beverage.
Broccoli flowers: often described as “peppery with a sweet honeyed finish”, broccoli flowers also, unsurprisingly, taste a bit like broccoli.
for the dressing
5 ml rice wine vinegar
20 ml sesame oil
60 ml soy sauce
15 ml Cape Herb & Spice Poké Spice
5 ml orange zest
10 ml brown sugar
20 ml lemongrass (finely chopped)
for the poké bowl
180 ml jasmine rice
10 ml Cape Herb & Spice Poké Spice
1 fennel bulb (large)
1 lime (zest)
6 sprigs fennel
For the edible flowers
Swan River Daisy (Brachyscombe)
for the dressing
Whisk all the ingredients together and store in the fridge for 30 min before using. Add more orange zest if needed.
for the poké bowl
Cook the rice according to the instructions on the back of the packet. Cool the rice down to room temperature and mix the Poké Spice & lime zest through.
Make cucumber ribbons using a potato peeler and marinade in 20 ml of the dressing. Use the fennel and slice very thinly on a mandolin slicer, cover with ice water to give shape and crispness. Slice the radishes into thin disks.
Place the cooked rice at the bottom of your bowl, assemble the sliced fennel bulb. Make a rose from the radish slices by slightly overlapping the slices one by one. Place cucumber ribbons and fennel sprigs along the side of the radish rose. Serve dressing on the side.
for the edible flowers
Place the flowers in the bowl and arrange to create a bouquet. Flowers can be replaced with any edible flowers of your choice.