2 Easy Poke Sauce Recipes (Soy Sauce or Mayo Based)

soy based and mayo based poke sauces

I’m going to show you how to make two types of poke sauces here: soy sauce based, and spicy mayo based. It’s very simple to do. There’s a lot of other ingredients you can add to customize each sauce though so I’ll help guide you through tasty options I personally like.

After years of eating poke on the mainland, I visited Oahu and tried traditional Hawaiian poke sauce from many popular spots like Tamura’s and The Hibachi. Hawaiian-style poke that included different takes of classic poke dressing (shoyu-based) was even more flavorful than the mainland style because they marinated the fish for extended periods.

I love seafood, and poke bowls (especially salmon poke bowls) are my favorite way to eat fish. Poke bowls are easy to make at home because you don’t need to heat or cook anything. All you have to do is cut your fish of choice, assemble the dressing, and mix! Making it at home lets you customize the flavors, like adding more sesame oil for a nuttier flavor or marinating the fish to infuse the poke sauce flavor fully. 

What’s in traditional Hawaiian poke?

poke options from Tamura's market in Hawaii
poke options from Tamura’s Market in Hawaii

Poke is a traditional Hawaiian food, meaning “to cut into pieces” or “slice.” To use all the pieces of the raw tuna, fishermen scraped the leftover meat from tuna bones and mixed it in a sauce of:

  • Hawaiian sea salt
  • sesame oil
  • soy sauce
  • seaweed
  • roasted inamona nuts
glass bowls of sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil

These days, you can find poke all over the world, but Hawaiian poke often differs from mainland style because it’s marinated in a poke sauce before serving. On the mainland, you often get to choose your marinade and fixings RIGHT before it’s served, so fish isn’t infused with as much flavor. 

My top two spots to buy poke near me in Orange County, CA are North Shore Poke (mainland poke style) and 808 Local Hawaiian Grill (traditional Hawaiian poke style).

What is poke sauce made of?

Many different varieties of poke seasoning and sauces are available on the mainland and in Hawaii. Two main sauces are based on shoyu (soy sauce) and mayonnaise.

Base sauces

left: shoyu base, right: mayo base
  • Shoyu: soy sauce and sesame oil. This is commonly used with ahi tuna. 
  • Mayo: this creamy base is often mixed with Sriracha for a spicy flavor and paired with raw salmon cubes. Sometimes, there’s a hint of sesame oil, too. 

Aromatics & veggies

white onion, scallion, cucumber in shoyu sauce

After sauces, the majority of the volume added to the sauce will be aromatics and veggies that provide a strong aroma and a large amount of texture. These are things like:

  • thinly sliced onion
  • minced garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • roe
  • minced daikon
  • thinly sliced cucumber


In addition to these poke sauces and aromatics, you can also add finishing toppings for more flavor and extra texture:

  • avocado cubes
  • furikake
  • fried garlic
  • fried onion
  • kukui nuts
  • roasted sesame seeds
  • seaweed salad

If you want heat, you can also add spicy seasonings like:

  • chili peppers
  • sriracha
  • chili oil
  • hot sauce

For more citrus flavor, you can add splashes of yuzu juice (or lemon) or ponzu.

Tips for making poke bowls

Making poke sauce and poke bowls at home is super easy, follow my tips below:

  • Use fresh and quality ingredients, especially raw fish. I like to purchase my raw fish from Catalina Offshore (affiliate link) or Mitsuwa because they are reputable companies with fresh fish available. 
  • Cut the fish in the same size so they marinade evenly.
  • Let the fish marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to get more flavor. 
  • Make fresh rice with poke–you can eat it by itself, but I love eating it with rice. You can make short-grain rice using a rice cooker, microwave, on the stove, or even using an Instant Pot. Alternatively, you can also eat them with chips or fried wontons. 

Note that “sushi grade” is not an official certification; however, I still abide by this label when purchasing from any company. “Sushi grade” often means that the fish has been processed, frozen cold, and long enough to kill off parasites. Do not use fresh, caught fish for raw consumption because there is a higher risk of parasites. 

How to pick which sauce to use

tuna poke and salmon poke
left: tuna in shoyu sauce, right: salmon in spicy mayo sauce

Poke can be other types of fish than ahi tuna. Some favorites include raw salmon, oysters, octopus, scallops, and yellowtail. When eating mainland poke, pairing fish type and poke sauce is often based on personal preference. Since Hawaiian poke is premade, they’ve made this decision for you.

To be frank, there aren’t really any rules to pairing fish with poke sauces. Here are some common fish and sauce pairings I’ve seen:

  • Shoyu with oyster sauce and ahi
  • Spicy mayo with salmon
  • Spicy shoyu with ahi or tako (octopus)

How much poke sauce to make

The recipe below is enough sauce for 8 oz. of fish. So depending on how much fish you’re preparing, you can scale up accordingly. I make about two tablespoons worth of poke sauce for eight ounces of ahi tuna (about two servings).

Poke doesn’t really keep well in the fridge for longer than a few days, so really I just try to eat poke within the same day and don’t try to save any in the fridge.

shoyu poke sauce icon

Shoyu Poke Sauce Recipe

No ratings yet
This is a super easy and simple shoyu poke sauce base for any poke recipe.
BY: Huy Vu
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Marinating: 30 minutes
Total: 35 minutes


  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 5 tsp soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp green onions sliced thinly
  • ¼ c sweet onions sliced thinly
  • ¼ c Persian cucumbers optional, sliced thinly
  • 8 oz raw fish of your choice cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 tsp furikake topping optional

Equipment Used


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the ½ tsp sesame oil, 5 tsp soy sauce, and ¼ tsp sugar. Whisk until the sugar dissolves.
    adding shoyu sauce ingredients
  • Then, add the 2 tbsp green onions , ¼ c sweet onions, and ¼ c Persian cucumbers into the same bowl. Stir to combine.
    shoyu sauce with onion and cucumber
  • Add 8 oz raw fish of your choice and mix until the fish is coated with the seasoning. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap.
    tuna poke in glass container
  • Marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge, top with 1 tsp furikake topping (if you prefer), and serve.
    bowl of poke tuna
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Asian, Hawaiian
Keyword: potluck, seafood
Did you cook this recipe?Tag @HungryHuy or #hungryhuy–I’d love to see it!
spicy mayo sauce icon

Spicy Mayo Poke Sauce Recipe

No ratings yet
Make this spicy mayo sauce recipe if you love a creamy and spicy bowl of poke!
BY: Huy Vu
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Marinating: 30 minutes
Total: 35 minutes


  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • ¾ tsp roe
  • 2 tbsp green onions sliced thinly
  • ¼ c sweet onions sliced thinly
  • 8 oz raw fish of your choice cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds plus more for topping

Equipment Used

  • knife and cutting board
  • small bowl
  • mixing bowl
  • spoon or spatula
  • airtight container with a lid or plastic wrap


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the ½ tsp sesame oil, 3 tsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise, and 1 tsp sriracha. Stir until combined thoroughly.
    ingredients for spicy mayo
  • Add in the 8 oz raw fish of your choice, and mix to coat.
    salmon cubes covered in spicy mayo
  • Add ¾ tsp roe, 2 tbsp green onions , and ¼ c sweet onions. Mix to combine.
    onion and roe in spicy mayo
  • Cover the bowl and fridge for 30 minutes.
    spicy mayo tuna in glass container
  • Sprinkle the 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds on top and serve.
    salmon spicy mayo poke
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American, Asian, Hawaiian
Keyword: easy meal, potluck
Did you cook this recipe?Tag @HungryHuy or #hungryhuy–I’d love to see it!

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