Although most sushi types use raw seafood, opting for vegan sushi is not that difficult.
Because, even in traditional Japanese cuisine, some local vegetables and fruits were commonly used in sushi.
Not to mention the basic ingredients of sushi itself are all plant-based, such as rice, vinegar, sesame seeds, and nori sheets.
Even the sushi condiments are mostly vegan. I love the pickled ginger myself and wrote this post on exactly how to make it (or buy it). Only the choices of topping determine whether the sushi is vegan or not.
Can You Order Vegan Sushi in Any Sushi Restaurant?
Given the situation, every restaurant should be able to provide vegan sushi as long as they have the ingredients.
However, not any restaurant can cater for custom menu even if they have the ingredients.
Because, in some restaurants, they make sushi in large quantities and then divide them into small servings.
Before entering the restaurant, it is best to ask the waiter first whether they can serve vegan sushi or not.
Big restaurants usually only serve whatever is on the menu. So if you see vegan options on the menu, you will be fine. Otherwise, better try your luck in smaller restaurants.
Also, you might want to know beforehand which sushi is vegan because the waiters might not know or direct you to vegetarian options, which you don’t want.
However, the best chance to get the utmost experience of eating vegan sushi is by visiting the traditional sushi bar where each piece of sushi is customized and personally served by an expert chef.
Not only the sushi would taste even more wonderful, but also because you get more freedom to ask the chef for vegan-only sushi.
Authentic Japanese Vegan Sushi rollsAlthough veganism was not a real thing in the ancient time of Japan, vegetable-based dishes were just as common as meat-based ones.
The same thing goes as well on the sushi. Since the basic ingredients are plant-based, it just came naturally that some types of authentic sushi dishes are vegan.
Here are some examples of them:
Kappa Maki (Plant-based cucumber rolls)
Kappa means cucumber. In Japan, this is the kind of vegetable mostly used in sushi.
Although sometimes cucumber is paired with raw fish in sushi, you can also find a sushi dish stuffed with cucumber alone.
Grab a cucumber and remove its peel. Then slice it along the length of the cucumber to get long pieces to use.
Grab a sheet of nori. Fill it with sushi rice and add your slices of cucumber.
Umeshiso Maki (Vegan pickled plum)
(this is a text overlay image containing the original work ume shiso by jen under cc on flickr)
Umeshiso Maki is the most unique vegan sushi you can try. Ume refers to pickled Japanese plum, while Shiso is a kind of mint leaves.
The saltiness of the plum makes a perfect combination with the freshness of shiso leaves.
Soak the shiso leaves in water for a bit, then add them with the plum as fillings.
Roll them in rice and nori, and cut the sushi rolls into small pieces of maki.
For this recipe, you’ll need some pickled plum:
Inari Sushi (Vegan Tofu)
Inari is a thin deep-fried tofu pocket. Inari Sushi refers to an Inari stuffed with vinegared rice. Sometimes, other ingredients are added such as chopped vegetables.
Making an Inari pouch is a little bit tricky because you have to fold the thin tofu sheet. But if you live in Japan, you can easily find ready-to-go Inari pouches.
Season your rice with some furikake or aonori, then roll it into a sheet of tofu.
Make sure it’s packed tight and start frying the tofu sushi until it’s golden brown.
If you don’t have everything for this recipe, here are my top picks:
Shiitake Maki (mushroom sushi)
It is a type of sushi stuffed with chopped shiitake mushrooms. The mushrooms are sauteed with sesame and garlic, making it richer in flavor.
This type of sushi will go very well with ginger and wasabi. So if you get a chance to try one out, do not leave out the condiments.
Cut the shiitake into small slices, then sautee them with sesame and garlic.
Let them cool off a bit and wrap them in a nori sheet with rice to make a maki roll.
Modern Vegan Sushi
As sushi becomes more popular worldwide, there is a huge demand for modern-style sushi, especially in the western part of the world.
Not to mention that the rising trend of veganism makes the demand even bigger. Thus, some new options for vegan sushi were born.
Here are some of the most popular ones:
This one is the easiest to find in the US. The dish is just as easy as rice filled with a block of avocado and rolled with nori sheet.
Anyone who loves avocado will easily fall in love with the simplicity and tenderness of this sushi dish.
Wrap them in a sushi roll with rice and a sheet of nori just like with any type of maki.
Vegan Dynamite Roll
Dynamite roll refers to a sushi dish with a spicy flavor. The spiciness usually comes from sriracha sauce or chili mayo.
While common dynamite rolls use tuna or prawn, a vegan dynamite roll usually contains cucumber and avocado.
Each sushi slice is topped with the spicy sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Roll your avocado and cucumber sushi, you can use a nori sheet on the inside or on the outside.
Then, before serving, add a spicy sriracha sauce and some sesame seeds.
Vegan Caterpillar Roll (Avocado, cucumber, and eggplant)
The caterpillar roll refers to a roll of sushi blanketed with avocado instead of Nori sheet. The sushi still contains Nori, but it sits in the interior instead of being the wrapper.
The segmented arrangement of the avocado layers makes the sushi roll look like a caterpillar.
While the original caterpillar commonly contains cucumber and eel, Vegan Caterpillar Roll usually replaces the eel with eggplant.
Japan is a huge fan of healthy eating habits. Hence, you can easily find many kinds of plant-based dishes throughout the country.
It might be a challenge to find a Japanese restaurant that has vegan sushi options on the menu. However, things would be much easier if you go to an authentic sushi bar instead.
If you are new to veganism, you don’t need to hesitate about trying out a vegan type of sushi. The taste is not any less delicious than the meaty or fishy ones.
It offers a different sensation of freshness and delight.