difference between Chirashi and Poke

Chirashi (Suhi Bowl) VS Poke

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If you are a fan of raw fish, sauces, and rice, you are sure to enjoy the traditional delicacies like Chirashi and Poke. Chirashi is the Japanese term used for referring to the bowl containing raw fish and rice, while Poke originates from Hawaii and constitutes of raw fish marinated in lipsmacking sauces.

While both Chirashi and Poke look like they are inspired by each other, there is a lot of difference between the two dishes. But, before we get into the differences, let’s take a look at what they constitute of.  Read on to find out more.

Chirashi: The Japanese Sushi In A Bowl


Also known as Chirashizushi, this is a unique style of Japanese sushi that literally translates to scattered sushi. It includes an artistic bowl of rice with raw fish and vegetables on the top. Sometimes, the bowl may include boiled or steamed varieties of seafood such as prawns and crabs.

The Chirashi bowl may be garnished with nori, shiso, or shredded eggs. Beginners enjoy making this dish because it does not require a lot of skills. You also don’t need special equipment for sushi making like a bamboo mat or roller.

The rice used in a Chirashi bowl is typically seasoned with vinegar, salt, and sugar like in the case of sushi. In terms of ingredients used, there is no limit to what can go inside a Chirashi bowl. You can use different types of fish, seafood, and vegetables.

If you are a vegetarian, your Chirashi bowl may contain only seasonal vegetables and fruits. As there is little preparation involved in making Chirashi, it can be your go-to snack when your stomach is growling due to hunger.

The correct way of making a Chirashi is to fill a bowl with seasoned sushi rice to the bottom half and then add sliced raw fish and seafood on the top. Garnish with chopped shiso leaves, nori bits or masago. Even if you don’t have Nori sheets, you may go ahead and make a bowl of delicious snack for you.

Another interesting way of making Chirashi quickly at home is to add all the ingredients in a big bowl containing rice. You can then divide into portions for different people.

When arranged neatly, a bowl of Chirashi looks like a chest of precious gems containing orange-striped salmon, pink tuna, shining roe, and bright wasabi on the top. It looks like an assortment of different textures and colors put together.

Poke: A Bowl Of Seasoned Fish Cubes

Tuna Poke

The Hawaiian version of Chirashi is called Poke (pronounced as Poh-kay) and it means to cut or slice in Hawaii. It constitutes of raw fish that is diced and served as an appetizer or main course.

Recently, poke has gained popularity around the world and there are numerous restaurants in the US selling this delicacy. Typically the bowl constitutes of an oily tuna fish or octopus. Different adaptations of the dish may include shellfish and raw salmon.

Traditionally, the native Hawaiian poke is a dish that contains fish that are skinned, gutted, and deboned. It is usually marinated in sauce and served with different condiments like seaweed, limu, sea salt, and candlenut. The fish cubes may be frozen or at room temperature.

The tradition of eating Poke typically began when the fishermen seasoned the chopped pieces from their catch and served as a snack. The dish has been heavily influenced by the Japanese Chirashizushi and some other types of Asian cuisine.

To make a bowl of Poke, start by adding a base layer of cooked long-grain Jasmine rice. The warm rice gives a nice texture and balances with the cold tuna on the top. Next, you will add sushi-grade yellowfin tuna (ahi), salmon and snapper. If you don’t like the taste of raw fish, you may consider other options like cooked crab or tofu.

The fish cubes are then seasoned to enhance their taste and flavor. The seasonings used in Poke include finely chopped green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, chopped dried/ fresh chili pepper, fish eggs, Maui onions, and wasabi.

In Poke, the fish cubes are dressed in delicious sauces such as shoyu, soy sauce, ponzu, black-bean paste that balance the fattiness of fatty fish. The classic shoyu sauce comprises of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, mirin, and some lemon juice.

Chirashi Vs Poke

Now that you are familiar with Chirashi and Poke, I am sure it makes you feel that both the dishes are inspired by each other. However, if you look closely, you can see that there are a lot of fine differences between the two.

Main ingredients


Chirashizushi comprises of different types of fish such as salmon, tuna, yellowtail, eel, roe, and shrimp. It is a perfect balance of oily and light varieties. Some of the other secondary ingredients may include tamago, pickled vegetables, and wasabi.

Poke usually comprises of one or two variety of fish – salmon and tuna, marinated in various sauces and served on top of white rice. Some restaurants may use brown rice or salad in the place of white rice.

Additional flavor

In Chirashi, there is no additional flavor other than seasoned sushi rice. The raw fish is served in its natural state, however, you may add some wasabi or soy sauce to enhance the flavor. You may choose whether you want to dip or not dip.

The Hawaiian poke, on the other hand, constitutes of raw fish cubes and vegetables that are heavily flavored with sauces and seasoned with a variety of condiments. While making Poke at home, it depends on you how much flavorings/ seasonings you wish to add.

The size of fish pieces

The fish used in a Chirashi bowl is usually sliced like sashimi, rectangular fillet shaped. As various species of fish are used, the assortment of different colors looks appealing to the eyes.

Poke fish cubes, on the other hand, is cut into one-inch cubes. Typically, only one variety of fish (mostly tuna) is used in making a bowl of Poke. The recent versions of Poke may contain different varieties of fish.

The use of rice

Chirashi is a type of scattered sushi served in a bowl, so you need to use the typical seasoned sushi rice made from Japanese short-grain rice. It is typically sticky in texture and has a flavourful taste. The modern versions of sushi may also include healthier options such as brown rice, quinoa, etc.

In Hawaiian Poke, long-grain Japanese rice is typically used as the base. Unlike sushi rice, it is not sticky in nature and it is not seasoned with vinegar, salt or sugar.

Appearance and appeal

Coming to the aesthetic value of the dish, I believe that Charishi looks more attractive with small pieces of vegetables, fruits, and raw fish over sushi rice. They are arranged beautifully to look appealing.

The Hawaiian Poke usually looks less aesthetic when compared to a bowl of Charishi because you have just one fish slathered in sauces. It just the one color or two at the most, with some garnishes on the top.

Taste and flavors

When you take a bite of Charishi, you may expect to experience a burst of flavors from sweet and savory to crunchy. The different flavors of raw tuna, salmon, octopus, and veggies will take your taste buds for a rollercoaster ride.

Poke typically comprises of the same type of fish and has no veggies so do not expect to find different flavors. Nevertheless, it tastes delicious as it is marinated in delicious sauces.

Difficulty in making

Both Charishi and Poke are quick to make snacks that you can prepare at home. As the dish contains all raw fish so there’s no additional step for marinating or adding flavors. However, you will need to prepare the sushi rice for at least 30 minutes in advance.

The poke bowl, on the other hand, comprises of fish cubes seasoned in different types of sauces, so that takes some extra time to prepare. You can prepare poke without rice at the bottom. It can be eaten as a snack or served with rice.

Other Types Of Bowl Delicacies

Chirashi and poke have become one of the most sought after delicacies in modern times. A bowl of chirashi typically costs less than a sushi roll and makes for a filling meal. Poke on the other hand has undergone various evolutions since it started and today there are many interesting adaptations available. 

Latin Ceviche

This is a traditional Caribbean and Latin American dish that comprises of raw fish, chili, citrus juice, and cilantro. While the Latins have retained the raw taste, they love to flavor them up with citrus for an additional tang! See more

Korean Hoe/hwe

This is a Korean-styled dish that comprises of raw seafood garnished with toasted sesame seeds. While the Koreans use different types of raw seafood, an octopus is by far the most popular type used. It does not include any rice or veggies.

Chinese Yusheng

This is a type of Chinese cuisine that comprises raw fish mixed together with various other ingredients such as shredded radish, shredded carrot, peanut crumbs, plum sauce, lime and so on. Just mix them up and you have got a delicacy people love to enjoy in Chinese New Year. See more.

Related Questions

How long do you need to marinate the fish cubes in Poke

In a bowl, mix fish cubes with soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic, chopped onions, and marinate the fish for one hour inside the refrigerator.

What vegetables can I use to make vegan chirashi?

If raw fish is not your thing, try a vegan chirashi recipe comprising of soybean sprouts, avocado, lotus roots, cucumber, tofu, cooked spinach, semi-boiled carrots, bamboo shoots, shitake mushrooms, scallion, and carrots.

Is there a dish that is a fusion of chirashi and poke?

Chikarashi is a restaurant with two locations in New York and it serves a dish inspired by the two traditional creations – Chirashi and Poke. However, it also includes some cooked ingredients which lend a different flavor.

Related Article: Difference Between Chirashi And Donburi

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