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Vegan Sushi: A Healthy and Sustainable Delight that Combines the Best of Japanese Culture

Publishes on
08 January 2024
VFA Blog
Alex Fernandes
If you're a sushi lover who also cares about health and sustainability, we have great news for you: vegan sushi. A delicious, nutritious, and environmentally-friendly option that will make you fall in love!

Sushi, one of the most famous expressions of Japanese cuisine, is a culinary art that combines flavors, textures, and colors in a unique way. Traditionally made with raw fish and rice, sushi has evolved over time to now include a variety of ingredients, including vegan options.

Vegan sushi is a wonderful alternative to traditional sushi. It's made without any animal-based products, making it perfect for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who wants to try something new and healthy. Moreover, it's a sustainable choice that contributes to environmental preservation.

Now, let's get to the interesting part: the recipe! But first, let's go through a brief glossary to familiarize you with some Japanese terms that will be used:

Nori: Dried and pressed seaweed used to roll sushi.
Maki: Sushi roll with the seaweed on the outside.
Sake: Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice, commonly served with sushi.

Vegan Sushi Recipe


3 cups of sushi rice
4 cups of water
3/4 cup of rice vinegar
4 tablespoons of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
12 nori seaweed sheets
1 1/2 cucumbers, cut into thin strips
3 carrots, cut into thin strips
1 1/2 avocados, sliced
1 1/2 blocks of tofu, cooked and seasoned to taste, cut into thin strips
Soy sauce for serving

How to make sushi rice

Sushi rice is a special kind of short-grain rice that is cooked and then mixed with a solution of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. This rice has a sticky texture that makes it ideal for making sushi. Here's how you can prepare it:
  1. Wash 1 cup of sushi rice in cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and helps the rice to become sticky.
  2. In a pot, combine the washed rice and 1 1/3 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. The rice should be soft and the water should be absorbed.
  3. While the rice is cooking, prepare the rice vinegar. In a small pot, combine 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  4. When the rice is ready, pour the rice vinegar mixture over it and mix well. Let the rice cool before using.
vegan sushi plate3

Vegan Sushi Preparation Method:

When the rice is ready, transfer it to a large bowl, preferably made of wood. Slowly pour the vinegar mixture over the rice while mixing and separating the grains of rice with a spatula. Let the rice cool at room temperature.

Place a nori sheet on a bamboo mat and moisten your hands. Take an adequate amount of rice and spread it evenly over the nori, leaving a free edge at the end farthest from you.

Place your chosen filling on the center line of the rice. Hold the edge of the bamboo mat, roll the sushi, and press lightly. Use a sharp knife to cut the sushi roll into pieces.

Repeat the process with the remaining rice and fillings.

Serve your vegan sushi with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. Enjoy!

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don't worry if your first sushi rolls aren't perfect. With time, you'll get the hang of it!

To make sushi at home, you'll need some special equipment:

  1. esteira de sushi em aquarelaBamboo Mat (Makisu): A bamboo mat is used for rolling sushi. It helps maintain the shape of the sushi and evenly distribute pressure when rolling.

  2. sushi knifeSushi Knife: A sharp sushi knife is essential for cutting sushi into clean slices.

  3. rice cookerRice Cooker: While not strictly necessary, a rice cooker can make cooking sushi rice easier and more consistent.

How to Assemble the Sushi

Assembling sushi is an art in itself. Here are the basic steps:

enrrolando sushi vegano parte 1
Place a sheet of nori, with the shiny side down, on the bamboo mat.
Wet your fingers with water and spread about 1/2 cup of rice evenly over the nori, leaving an edge of about 1 cm at the top.

enrrolando sushi vegano parte 2
Place the filling in the center of the rice. For vegan sushi, you can use a variety of vegetables and tofu. Some popular options include cucumber, carrot, avocado, bell pepper, asparagus, tofu, and tempeh.

enrrolando sushi vegano parte 33
Lift the end of the bamboo mat and gently roll it over the ingredients, pressing lightly.

enrrolando sushi vegano parte 4

Continue rolling until you have a full roll.

pretty vegan sushi water painting 3

Use a sharp sushi knife to cut the roll into 2-centimeter slices.

Most Common Types of Vegan Sushi

nigiri vegan sushi 2Hand-shaped Sushi – Nigiri-zushi
Nigiri-zushi is a type of sushi that consists of a ball of rice topped with a piece of vegetable or tofu. To make vegan Nigiri-zushi, you can use slices of avocado, roasted bell pepper, marinated tofu, or any other vegetable of your choice.

batera vegan sushiBox-shaped Sushi – Batera-zushi
Batera-zushi is a type of pressed sushi that is shaped in a special box called an oshibako. To make vegan Batera-zushi, you can use a variety of finely cut or pickled vegetables.

warship vegan sushi“Warship” Sushi
Gunkan maki, also known as "warship sushi," is a type of sushi where the rice is wrapped in a strip of nori and the filling is placed on top. To make vegan Gunkan maki, you can use chopped vegetables, tofu, or tempeh.

temaki veganHand-rolled Sushi - Temaki
Temaki is a type of sushi that is hand-rolled into a cone shape. It's easy to make and perfect for sushi parties. To make vegan Temaki, you can use any combination of vegetables and tofu.

vegan uramakiCalifornia Uramaki Sushi
Uramaki, also known as California sushi, is a sushi roll where the rice is on the outside and the nori is on the inside. To make vegan Uramaki, you can use a combination of avocado, cucumber, and carrot.

Exploring Flavors: A Rainbow of Fillings for Vegan Sushi

This is a type of Japanese gourd that is often used in sushi and other Japanese recipes. To prepare the kampyo, wash it carefully with a bit of salt, rubbing well. Soak it in clean water for a few hours. Then cook it with a little water, seasoned with hondashi, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and sake, until the water evaporates and the kampyo becomes soft.

Carrot is a classic and delicious filling. Cook it with water, hondashi, salt, and sugar for a simple but pleasant flavor.

bell pepperVeggie, Cucumber, or Red and Yellow Bell Peppers:
Choose the vegetable of your preference and blanch it in boiling salted water. For cucumber, remove the seeds and cut it lengthwise into 4 or 6 strips, sprinkle salt to draw out the excess liquid. Squeeze it well with a napkin. The other vegetables can be used as they are.

shitake mushroomShiitake Mushroom:
Shiitake is an optional filling, but highly recommended for mushroom lovers. Cook it in the same way as the kampyo.

shogaPickled Ginger (Shoga):
Slice the ginger into thin strips. Pickled ginger adds a spicy and refreshing touch to sushi.

Avocado is a popular filling in vegan sushi, especially in California-style sushi. Cut the avocado into thin strips and use it fresh.

Mango adds a sweet and tropical touch to sushi. Just like avocado, cut it into thin strips and use it fresh.

Asparagus can be lightly grilled or steamed and used as filling for an earthy flavor touch.

smoked tofuSmoked Tofu:
Smoked tofu can be cut into strips and used as filling to add a firm texture and a smoky flavor to sushi.

Remember, the beauty of sushi lies in its versatility. Feel free to experiment with different combinations of fillings and discover your favorites!pretty vegan sushi water painting

Sushi Plating Tips

Presentation is an important part of the sushi experience. Here are some tips to make your sushi look as good as it tastes:

Organization: Arrange the sushi rolls in a pattern on the plate. You can line them up in straight rows or arrange them in a circular pattern.

Colors: Use colorful ingredients for the filling and topping to make the sushi stand out. Colorful vegetables such as red and yellow bell peppers, carrots, and avocado can add a pop of color to your dish.

Garnishes: Add some garnishes to the plate for an extra touch. This could include lemon slices, shiso leaves (a Japanese herb), or edible flowers.

Sauces: Serve the sushi with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. You can place the sauces in small containers on the plate or drizzle them over the sushi.

Portions: Don't overload the plate. Less is more when it comes to sushi. Each piece should be able to be eaten in one or two bites.pretty vegan sushi water painting 2

The Great Sushi Dilemma: Chopsticks, Fork, or the Art of Eating with Hands?

The tradition of chopsticks is a fascinating journey that takes us back to 2500 BC. It is believed that the first chopsticks were used as a tool to cook food over the coals, using bamboo strips to prevent burning hands. Whether legend or fact, the use of chopsticks persists to this day, being one of the most intriguing and elegant ways to manipulate food.

Chopsticks are considered more hygienic than forks and spoons and can be made from various materials, from bamboo to silver. It seems that all oriental culinary culture was in a certain way developed to be consumed by these sticks. Food is cut into sizes that can be easily held, dispensing with the use of knife and fork.

There are some etiquette rules for holding chopsticks. One of them is not to swing the sticks in the air. It is also not good manners to pass food from chopstick to chopstick from another person. The sticks are delicate and as such should never pierce the food.

Interestingly, the Japanese claim that chopsticks are not part of the tradition of eating sushi. This is a Western habit. The correct thing is to consume using hands. But what about the use of forks and knives? Well, in Western culture, it's acceptable to use forks to eat sushi, especially if you're not comfortable with chopsticks. However, in Japanese culture, the use of forks and knives can be seen as a lack of etiquette. Therefore, when in a traditional Japanese setting, it is best to opt for chopsticks or hands. After all, the sushi experience is as much about the food as it is about the accompanying culture.

So, the next time you pick up a pair of chopsticks, remember the rich history and tradition they carry. They are more than just utensils - they are a bridge to a culture and a way of living that values harmony, aesthetics, and respect for food.

Frequently Asked Questions

vegan sushi plate2Is vegan sushi healthy?

Yes, vegan sushi is generally very healthy. It's nutrient-rich, low in calories and saturated fat, and contains no cholesterol.

Does vegan sushi have protein?

Yes, vegan sushi can be a good source of protein, especially if it's made with protein-rich ingredients like tofu and edamame.

Where can I buy vegan sushi?

Many sushi restaurants and health food stores offer vegan sushi options. Additionally, many traditional sushi restaurants are willing to make custom vegan sushi rolls.

vegan sushi plateIs vegan sushi expensive?

The price of vegan sushi can vary depending on where you buy it. However, making your own vegan sushi at home can be a more economical option.

Is vegan sushi gluten-free?

Vegan sushi can be gluten-free, but it depends on the specific ingredients used. If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, make sure to check the ingredients carefully.

Is vegan sushi good for weight loss?

Yes, vegan sushi can be a good option for those trying to lose weight. It is generally low in calories and saturated fat, and high in nutrients and fiber, which can help promote fullness and prevent overeating. However, as with any food, it's important to consume vegan sushi in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
pretty sushi table

Vegan sushi is a delicious, healthy, and sustainable option for those who love sushi but follow a vegan diet. Whether you're making your own at home or purchasing it at a restaurant, you can enjoy the best of Japanese cuisine without compromising your vegan principles. Try it today and discover a new way to enjoy sushi!

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Reference:  pdfSushi e Yakisoba veganos (1.79 MB)

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