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CULTURE

5 Easy Vegan Sushi Recipes

By Author1 Beam
May 13, 2022
Updated: May 13, 2022

In a world that is moving towards an increasingly constant presence of variegated diets, capable of satisfying the food choices of everyone, even here in Japan, we are beginning to notice several changes.

The growing interest in vegan and vegetarian diets has led to the creation of dishes inspired by tradition and made with plant-based ingredients.

Among them, we find a dish that has always been a symbol of Japanese cuisine, that is recently being served in its vegan version: sushi.

But what if I told you that sushi is originally a vegan dish?

Vegan inari sushi

Easy Vegan Sushi Recipe

The word sushi is usually linked to the classic combination of rice and raw fish.

But what if I told you that this definition is not exactly true?

The term "sushi" refers to rice seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, accompanied by various ingredients that range from fish, eggs, and vegetables.

In Japan, you will notice that the word “Sushi 寿司" (which becomes zushi when accompanied by a prefix), is popular in several dishes: inarizushi, Chirashi Zushi, Makizushi…

What they have in common is the preparation of the rice, but what sets them apart is the way the accompanying ingredients are combined together.

What to put in a Vegan Sushi

Popular ingredients used in the preparation of vegan sushi include cucumber, natto, avocado, pickles, etc... The most popular form is perhaps 巻寿司 - makizushi (small rolls of rice wrapped in nori seaweed), but lately, you can also find other alternatives.

Today I will show you three vegan sushi recipes. They are easy to make and super tasty!

Chirashizushi- ちらし寿司

The definition of chirashizushi is "sushi rice enriched with a variety of toppings beautifully arranged in a traditional wooden box”.

These big wooden boxes, used specifically for the preparation of sushi rice, is called handai -飯台 (or hangiri - 飯切り) and are characterized by:

- Excellent water absorption capacity, which allows them to keep the rice moist;

- An antibacterial property, which allows the preservation of rice without it spoiling;

In case you don’t own them (they are pretty expensive), don’t worry. You can still make an amazing Chirashizushi on a simple dish or bowl.

What makes this dish unique is the vibrant colors of the ingredients together with the explosion of different flavors and textures.

Serve it in the center of the table and let all the diners take a spoonful and savor it in all its goodness.

Vegan Chirashizushi

Ingredients

For Sushi Rice

  • 500 gr cooked rice (17,6 oz)
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar (1,5 oz)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (1 oz)
  • 1 tbsp salt (0,5 oz)

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and set it aside.

Using a damp cloth, wipe the surface of the bowl in which you will season the rice (it should not be wet but only slightly damp) and add the rice while it is still hot.

Pour in the hot rice vinegar, trying to spread it all over the surface. With the help of a spatula, mix the rice with a cutting motion, avoiding too much movement. When everything is well mixed, cover with a damp towel and let it rest until it reaches room temperature.

Topping Recipes

Pickled Renkon

  • 150 gr renkon (5,2 oz)
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar (1 oz)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (1 oz)
  • 1\2 tbsp salt (o.5 oz)

Wash the renkon and peel off the skin using a knife or a peeler. Cut it into thin slices. Cook for 2 mins in boiling water and drain.

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl and add the renkon. Chill the renkon in an airtight container overnight.

Pickled Renkon

Scrambled Tofu

  • 200 gr firm tofu (7 oz)
  • 1 tbsp Turmeric (0,5 oz)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil (1 oz)
  • 1 tbsp non-dairy milk (0,5 oz)
  • salt&pepper

Drain the tofu and wrap it in a dishtowel so that it loses its excess water (let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes to get a good firm texture).

Heat two tbsp of sesame oil in a pan over medium heat. Smash the block of tofu with your hand right in the pan and cook, stirring frequently until the remaining water from the tofu is gone.

Add the tablespoon of turmeric, and 1 tablespoon of non-dairy milk, and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, making sure it does not stick to the pan.

Once ready, set it aside and let it cool.

Scrambled Tofu

Teriyaki Eggplant

  • 250 gr Eggplant - small eggplant (8 oz)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (0,5 oz)
  • 1 tbsp mirin (0,5 oz)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (0,5 oz)
  • 1 tbsp oil (0,5 oz)

Wash the eggplant and cut it into small cubes (about 1 cm) of the same size. Heat a drizzle of oil in a saucepan and, once hot, place the eggplant cubes. Cook until golden brown. Once ready, lower the heat to low and add the sauces in the following order: sake, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce.

Cook until the sauce begins to get thicker, almost caramelized, moving the eggplant continuously so that the sauce spreads over its entire surface.

Turn off the heat, set them aside, and let them cool.

Teriyaki Eggplant

Grilled Oyster Mushrooms

  • 200 gr king oyster mushrooms (7,0 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (0,5 oz)
  • salt&pepper

Slice the stem of the mushroom 1 cm thick rounds and cut their surface with vertical and horizontal stripes to form a grid.

(You can use the mushroom caps, or keep them for a good miso soup that goes well with Chirashizushi).

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the mushroom and cook until golden brown on both sides. Finish by seasoning them with salt and pepper.

Oyster Mushrooms

Edamame

  • 50 gr boiled edamame (1,7 oz)

Umeboshi

  • 2 umeboshi smashed to form a cream
Edamame

Chirashizushi

After the preparation of the various toppings, we just have to assemble them. Starting with the rice base, place the tofu scramble on top of it (which in this case functions as a substitute for the egg strips in traditional Chirashizushi).

Continue alternating the various prepared ingredients, sprinkling the edamame and small pieces of umeboshi on the surface.

Inarizushi with Umeboshi and Shiso

These little pockets of tofu stuffed with sushi rice are a perfect snack or side dish.

The wrapper consists of fried tofu skin (aburaage), cooked in a broth made with a base of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar.

The traditional recipe also includes dashi (fish broth), but it is an ingredient that can be omitted if you want to make them in their vegan version.

Here's the recipe.

Inarizushi with Umeboshi and Shiso

Ingredients

  • 3 large sheets of fried tofu (1,9 oz)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (0,5 oz)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (0,5 oz)
  • 1 tbsp mirin (0,5 oz)
  • 1 tbsp sake (0,5 oz)
  • 1 1/2 cups water (12 oz)
  • 2 umeboshi
  • 4 shiso leaves

Sushi Rice

  • 500 gr cooked rice (17,6 oz)
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar (1,5 oz)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (1 oz)
  • 1 tbsp salt (0,5 oz)

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and set it aside.

Using a damp cloth, wipe the surface of the bowl in which you will season the rice (it should not be wet but only slightly damp) and add the rice while it is still hot.

Pour the hot rice vinegar trying to spread it all over the surface, and with the help of a spatula, mix the rice as if to create cuts, avoiding too much movement from the bottom up. When everything is well mixed, cover with a damp towel and let it rest until it reaches room temperature.

Sushi Rice

Inarizushi

Place fried tofu on a cutting board and roll chopsticks over the top to make it easier to open.

Cut in half and boil in water for a minute or two to remove the oil. Place in a colander and let it rest for a few minutes to cool, then squeeze the water out with your hands (taking care to not burn your skin).

Put the fried tofu in a pot with soy sauce, sugar, mirin, sake, and water and simmer over medium-low heat, covering with a drop-lid. Turn off the heat when it starts to boil and let it cool to absorb the remaining liquid.

While the tofu skin cools in the sauce, chop the shiso leave and the umeboshi and mix quickly with the rice.

Dip your hands in a little water mixed with a tbsp of vinegar and roll the sushi rice into an oval shape. Gently fill it in the deep-fried tofu pressing a bit with your hands.

Inarizushi

Nigiri Sushi

The most popular type of sushi. What distinguishes them is the elongated rectangular shape given to the rice (suitable for their consumption in one mouthful), with a slice of raw fish and a hint of wasabi.

Nigiri represents par excellence in the definition of sushi, but have you ever tried them in their vegan version?

For Sushi Rice

  • 500 gr cooked rice (17,6 oz)
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar (1,5 oz)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (1 oz)
  • 1 tbsp salt (0,5 oz)

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and set it aside.

Using a damp cloth, wipe the surface of the bowl in which you will season the rice (it should not be wet but only slightly damp) and add the rice while it is still hot.

Pour the hot rice vinegar all over the surface, and with the help of a spatula, mix the rice creating cuts, avoiding too much movement from the bottom up. When everything is well mixed, cover with a damp towel and let it rest until it reaches room temperature.

Once ready, wet your hand with water and rice vinegar (this will help to avoid sticky rice on our hands) and form their traditional rectangular shape.

Topping

Shiitake Nigiri

  • 6 shiitake
  • 2 tbsp of sesame oil (1 oz)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (1 0z)
  • wasabi (optional)

Heat the tbsp of sesame oil in a pan and once ready, cook the shiitake stem side down until golden brown. Turn over and keep cooking until they lose most of their water.

Turn off the heat and season with a bit of soy sauce.

Top the sushi rice with the grilled shiitake and gently squeeze it in your hand to give it a more rounded shape. Using a chopstick, place a small piece of wasabi paste in the center of the mushroom and serve it together with soy sauce.

Shiitake

Avocado Nigiri

  • 1 avocado
  • wasabi (optional)

Cut avocado in half, removing seed and skin.

With a very sharp knife, create very thin slices while holding the knife at a slight angle. Try to be precise by creating slices of the same thickness and thinness.

Using a chopstick, place a small piece of wasabi paste in the center of the rice.

Being careful not to break them, place 3-4 avocado slices on the rice and gently squeeze them in your hand giving a slightly more elongated shape.

Avocado Nigiri


Teriyaki Eggplant Sushi

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 4 tbsp of oil (2 oz)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (0.5 oz)
  • 1 tbsp mirin (0.5 oz)
  • 1 tbsp sake (0.5 oz)
  • 2 chopped shiso leaves
  • 1\2 tbsp sugar (0.4 oz)

Wash the eggplant, and, with the help of a sharp knife, create slices of the same thickness (around 1 cm).

Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and cook the eggplant on both sides until golden brown.

Add the mirin, sake, sugar, and soy sauce, and cook until the sauce becomes thick (being careful not to burn it).

Remove the eggplant slices from the pan, place them spaced apart on a plate and let them cool.

Once cooled, place on the rice and gently squeeze in your hand giving a slightly more elongated shape. Sprinkle with the chopped shiso leaves and serve.

Sliced eggplant

Recreating vegan sushi at home is really simple, tasty, and even fun! You can let your imagination run wild with the creation of your own favorite combinations of flavors and textures.

Absolutely recommended for a plant-based dinner, accompanied with a few good glasses of green tea or sake!

We strive to be as accurate as possible and keep up with the changing landscape of Japan’s food and travel industries. If you spot any inaccuracies, please send a report.
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