Your Guide on How to Make Vegan Sushi, Plus a Watermelon “Tuna” Recipe
Celebrate National Sushi Day (6/18) with homemade vegan sushi! Although becoming a skilled sushi chef can take years, this should not discourage you from trying to make your own plant-based version. For an easy, fun recipe, try our "tuna" sushi roll made with marinated watermelon.
Making sushi at home is a great budget-friendly alternative to expensive restaurants, and it’s a lot of fun and a cool experience to try at least once. Plus you can get extremely creative both with your sushi rolls and the way you serve them. Here's your guide to making delicious vegan sushi at home.
You can cut your nori sheets in half for smaller rolls or keep them whole for larger ones. When making sushi the nori should lay with the rough side facing upwards.
Traditionally, Japanese short-grain rice is used which is then seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.
You can count with about 2/3 cup of dry rice per person. 2/3 cup of rice is enough to make 2 larger or 4 smaller rolls.
If you feel adventurous, you can also color your rice to make rainbow sushi. Try using beet juice or powder, green or blue spirulina, turmeric, saffron, matcha, or purple cabbage.
And if you don’t feel like using traditional sushi rice you can make sushi with the followings as well:
- Brown, red or black rice
- Cauliflower or broccoli rice
Or make an all-veggie sushi with using nut butters, smashed avocado, or sweet potato mash as a base.
Sushi Filling Variations:
There are so many delicious plant-based foods to fill your sushi with. Choose one or more of the following ingredients to stuff your sushi rolls with:
- Raw fruits and veggies: cucumber, avocado, carrot, bell pepper, lettuce, asparagus, enoki mushroom, green onion, beetroot - for extra flavor marinate the veggies with sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and chili sauce
- Cooked, roasted, or grilled veggies: asparagus, sweet potato, bell pepper, mushrooms, green beans
- Vegan fish: store-bought or homemade (made of eggplant, watermelon or chickpeas)
- Tempeh or tofu: raw and marinated, or fried/grilled
- ‘Egg’ and ‘dairy’: chickpea omelet, tofu egg, vegan cream cheese
1. Start by Making Sushi Rice
- Start by washing your rice very well under running water, until no more starch is coming out of it.
- Transfer rice to a pot and add water to cover. You want to add about 1.25 cups of water per 1 cup of rice. Don’t add too much water, otherwise, the rice gets mushy.
- Cook rice over medium-low heat for about 15-18 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, or until water is fully absorbed and rice is tender. Set aside rice to cool.
- Once the rice is cooked, season rice with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. For one cup of dry rice you can count with 1/4 cup of vinegar, 1-2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1/4-1/2 tsp salt. Use a spatula to mix everything together. Make sure you don’t smoosh the rice, but rather gently fold it.
- Your sushi rice is ready to use.
2. Prepare Your Fillings
- Slice your fillings into thin strips. You can julienne everything or keep them slightly larger.
3. Assemble the Maki Roll
Before you start assembling your rolls, make sure you have a perfect mise en place.
- Place your bamboo sushi mat in front of you, and get the nori sheets, the rice, your fillings, plus a bowl of water for making your hands wet around you.
- Lay out a whole or a half sheet of nori on the sushi mat, rough side up.
- Wet your hands and spread a handful of rice evenly on the nori sheet. Leave about 1 inch/2 cm margin at the top for small rolls, or 2 inch/5 cm for large ones..
- Place filling of your choice on the bottom of the rice.
- Start rolling the sushi with your fingers. Press firmly to make sure it’s tight. Use your fingers to keep the filling inside. Wet your fingers in water and brush the water on the edge to seal the roll. Continue rolling until it is all the way rolled up.
- Slice the roll into 6-8 pieces using a very sharp knife.
4. How to Make Nigiri Nigiris:
- To make nigiri, place 2-3 tablespoons of sushi rice in your hand, and gently squeeze to roll into an oval shape. Flatten the bottom slightly.
- Place a piece of vegan watermelon tuna, sliced avocados, or roasted bell pepper on top. Optionally, you can wrap a thin strip of nori around the nigiri to secure the topping to the rice.
5. Serve Your Sushi
- Arrange your sushi pieces on a serving plate. Serve sushi with seaweed salad, wasabi, pickled ginger on the side, and soy sauce or vegan mayo to dip.
- On the pictures: small watermelon tuna maki; roasted sweet potato and sesame marinated cucumber maki; avocado maki; chili marinated vegan tofu fish and cucumber maki; riceless sushi with peanut butter, roasted sweet potato, cucumber, daikon, and bell pepper; watermelon tuna nigiri; avocado nigiri; vegan fish gunkan.