Sweet & Spicy Tuna Poke Recipe

This is positively the easiest (and best) ahi tuna poke. The key is using the freshest yellowfin tuna or bigeye tuna that you can find and tossing it in the simple three-ingredient poke sauce. This tuna poke recipe is sweet, spicy and absolutely delicious. Makes a perfect party appetizer or use this classic yellowfin tuna recipe in a poke bowl for dinner.

a large ahi tuna steak.
Yellowfin Ahi Tuna Steak

Up to now, this Ahi tuna poke appetizer has been one of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh tuna. We love it as an appetizer and in healthy ahi tuna poke bowls.

Recently, however, my Mom and I were treated to a Mother’s Day brunch at Baker’s Cay Resort in Key Largo and on the menu was an ahi tuna poke that was out of this world — and completely different from the way I usually make it. We all loved it so much, I knew I’d have to share it with you.

I asked our server for the ingredients (not measurements) that went into their tuna poke recipe and was surprised when she came back with such a sparse list. After some trial and error, I came up with a good approximation of their version and now I can’t get enough of it.

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Ingredients for sweet and spicy ahi tuna poke recipe

  • Sushi Grade Tuna (yellowfin or bigeye)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Sriracha Sauce
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Thinly Sliced Scallions
yellowfin tuna swimming in the ocean.
Yellowfin tuna is recognizable by the bright yellow dorsal and anal fins and finlets.

What is ahi tuna?

Ahi tuna is a Hawaiian word referencing yellowfin or bigeye tuna. You can use either of these types of tuna for making a traditional ahi tuna poke (p?-kay).

What to look for in fresh ahi tuna

  • Typically the flesh of the yellowfin or bigeye tuna will vary from a light pinkish hue in smaller fish to a deep red in the larger ones.
  • Darker red flesh is indicative of a larger fish which will generally have a higher fat content. Grade #1 or sushi-grade tuna comes from a yellowfin or bigeye tuna that weighs at least 60 pounds.
  • The flesh should be firm to the touch and free of blemishes and be bright red, shiny and translucent.
  • The texture should be fine, not coarse or grainy.
  • There shouldn’t be any fishy smell at all. Fresh ahi tuna should be clean smelling, like the ocean if anything.
  • Look for a reputable fish monger in your area and don’t be afraid to ask questions. They should be knowledgeable of their product and happy to answer any queries you have. I source my fish and seafood from Pop’s Fish and Ships and Key Largo Fisheries.
dicing the yellowfin tuna into 1/4 inch dice.
Slice the ahi tuna steak into 1/4″ strips, then cut vertically into further 1/4″ strips and finally, slice crosswise, into 1/4″ dice.

How to make ahi tuna poke

  1. Assemble the sauce by combining the soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and sriracha in a small bowl and whisking to combine.
  2. Slice the ahi tuna steak into small 1/4″ dice with a sharp knife.
  3. Pour the sauce over the steak and gently toss to coat.
  4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced green onion (scallions) and serve.
assembling the sauce for tuna poke.


Typically, if you’re not getting the very center of the ahi tuna belly, you may see streaks of silver skin in your fillet. That’s normal, but not desirable as it’s very chewy and takes away from the melt-in-your-mouth experience of ahi tuna poke. If you see large swaths of silver skin, remove it and discard.

tossing the diced fish with the poke sauce.
This simple sauce gently naps the fish and flavors every morsel.

What to serve with tuna poke

We enjoy this ahi tuna poke recipe as an hors d’oeuvres and I sometimes serve it the same way I would my Florida Style Smoked Whitefish Fish Dip with crispy crackers or flatbreads.

Other options include:

  • Very thin tortilla chips
  • Root vegetable chips (like yuca, sweet potato, taro, beet and parsnip)
  • Crispy plantain chips
  • Rice crackers
  • Endive lettuce leaves (for a low-carb alternative)
Gently mix the tuna and poke sauce in a bowl.

How to make an ahi tuna poke bowl

To serve the seasoned fish as a tuna poke bowl, prepare the fish as described above and keep chilled until you’re ready to assemble the bowl.

A poke bowl is typically assembled by putting a base of cooked sushi rice in the bottom of the bowl and topping with a portion of this tuna poke recipe. After that you can add a variety of ingredients to the bowl.

What to include in an ahi tuna poke bowl

  • Sushi Rice or Sticky White Rice
  • Thinly Sliced Cucumbers
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Shelled Edamame
  • Thinly Sliced Radishes
  • Sliced Scallions
  • Additional Tuna Poke Sauce
  • Sriracha Mayonnaise
  • Furikake (a Japanese seasoning made from dried fish, sesame seeds, dried seaweed, sugar, salt & MSG).
  • Chopped Peanuts or Cashews
  • Diced mangoes, dragon fruit or pineapple
serving the ahi tuna poke with crunchy tortilla chips.
How good does that look?


Can I make the tuna poke recipe in advance?

You can make it a few hours in advance, but for the best flavor, serve it the same day.

How long will leftover ahi tuna poke last?

If you have to save some for later, keep it no more than 1-2 days, well covered in the refrigerator.

Is tuna poke healthy?

With its high concentration of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, ahi tuna from bigeye and yellowfin tuna fish can help reduce cholesterol and improve heart health. What you need to watch for is what you mix with your tuna poke, which may not have the same level of nutrition.

Can I use previously frozen fish for this tuna poke recipe?

Actually, all sushi grade tuna has to be previously frozen before it’s sold to kill off harmful parasites. If your fish hasn’t already been defrosted when you buy it, follow these suggestions for proper ways to defrost frozen tuna steaks.

Can I use another type of fish for poke?

Yes. Try this with sushi grade salmon for a change of pace.

a tortilla chip with tuna poke, green onion and toasted sesame seeds.
Makes a fabulous poolside snack or hors d’oeuvres.

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4.60 from 5 votes

Sweet and Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke

The simple sweet, spicy sauce is what makes this ahi tuna poke so delicious. It’s only got a few ingredients and comes together in about 2 minutes. Use the freshest sushi grade tuna you can find for this recipe.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Asian Inspired, Polynesian
Keyword tuna
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Egg Free, Gluten-Free, Pescatarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 pound sushi grade tuna steak can use bluefin or yellowfin
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 scallion thinly sliced


  • thin tortilla chips
  • can also use other root vegetable chips for serving



  • In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and sriracha. Whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your tastes. (More salt – add soy, more sweet, add chili sauce, more heat, add sriracha).
  • Cut the tuna steak into 1/4″ dice and transfer to a small bowl.
  • Pour the sauce over the tuna and toss to coat. Garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and sliced green onion. Serve with tortilla or root vegetable chips.


Calories: 190kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 718mg | Potassium: 320mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2511IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 2mg

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Headed to the seafood store now. Thanks for this one!