Sushi is traditionally made by spreading seasoned rice, vegetables, and raw fish onto a sheet of seaweed, then rolling it up and cutting the roll into slices about three centimeters thick.
Since fish plays the starring role in most sushi, many people doubtless assume that it’s a mandatory ingredient. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Here are some great fillers for nori rolls:
- fried tofu
- baked kabocha squash
Ordering vegan sushi at a restaurant is tricky because many restaurants season their rice with dashi, a fish-based product that provides a umami flavor. But if the rice is vegan you’re home free—just ask for a nori roll made without seafood or eggs. Keep in mind, though, that the cost of your meal may be unreasonably high—because of lofty fish prices, sushi restaurants tend to be among the most expensive dining categories. It’s unlikely that you’ll a reasonable price break for ordering fish-free sushi, even though the ingredients that go into your meal could hardly be cheaper.
If you are serving sushi at home, try eating slices of pickled ginger and sipping some cold Japanese beer between pieces. Note that most brands of pickled ginger contain dreadful ingredients like artificial sweetener and red dye, so read labels and opt for a gourmet brand. I highly recommend Asahi Prime Rich beer to go with your sushi, but it’s tough to find outside Japan (Asahi’s flagship product in silver cans is everywhere, but is not nearly as good.)
If there’s no good vegan restaurant sushi nearby, you can always roll your own. You’ll need sushi rice, veggies, nori, and a sushi mat. Once you get the knack of it, making your own sushi rolls is one of the simplest gourmet-leaning meals you can make. To learn how to make great vegan sushi, just check out the recommended books below.
For more on this topic, check out our Guide to Vegan Japanese food.