During the holidays, we roll with it! Vegetarian sushi rolls, that is!
Several years ago, my sister-in-law and her Japanese friend, Ai, came to stay with us over Christmas vacation. We sat around the table and shared stories. Ai, taught me how to write a few Japanese kanji characters. Then, they taught me how to make vegetarian sushi rolls! It was such a gift! The gift of sushi rolls and friendship!
I try to make vegetarian sushi rolls every year. My friends at work begged me to make more! They ask me every year if I’m making sushi again? The answer is always, “YES!” I give them away as gifts. It seems silly to give away sushi rolls but, it’s a gift received and passed forward.
Now, I’m sharing them with you!
Making your own vegetarian sushi is great because you get to choose what to put in them! Choose your own adventure!
This is how it goes.
Make the rice as directed on the bag. I used Cal Rose rice. Once it’s done, put it into a large bowl, sprinkle with rice vinegar and stir. Let it cool completely. It should be room temperature before spreading on the nori.
While your rice is cooling, prep all of your ingredients.
You can fill the sushi rolls with just about whatever you want. You can edit for your personal taste and dietary requirements. I made mine with cream cheese (vegan, if you want), green onion, baked tofu, carrot, cucumber, red bell pepper, and avocado.
I baked the tofu. You can buy it prepackaged or make your own. I bought organic, firm tofu. I drained the tofu and sliced it to make thin, long sticks. I lightly greased the pan with sesame oil, placed the tofu sticks a small distance apart. I sprinkled with organic tamari and a light drizzle of more sesame oil. I baked at 200 degrees for 20 minutes on one side. Then, flipped each piece and baked for another 20 minutes. I placed them on a paper towel to cool. Once they’re cooled, you can put them in the refrigerator until you need them.
You can make the tofu ahead of time.
Slice the veggies. For the cucumber, I sliced lengthwise and spooned the seeds out. Then, sliced to make thin sticks.
Place all of your ingredients in front of you like an assembly line. Make sure you have a small bowl of water handy to rinse your fingers when needed to keep the rice in check.
It’s really handy to have a sushi mat and paddle. They’re relatively inexpensive.
Place the sushi mat down and place one piece of nori on top, rough side up. Use the paddle or wood spoon to gently place the rice onto the nori. You’ll need about a palm sized amount. Try to get the rice as close to the edges as possible. Make sure that there is rice in the corner of your nori. Try to keep it to one layer of rice. Be gentle or you can tear the nori.
Once your nori is covered, it’s time to place the goodies.
Don’t place them in the middle of the nori. Place them just far enough from the edge to get the nori wrapped around the ingredients once. Like this:
Lift the edge of the sushi mat closest to you and roll away, pressing evenly.
When you unroll the mat, you should have a beautiful vegetarian sushi roll that looks like this:
Place it on a cutting board and slice with a sharp knife. It’s easier to cut if the blade is wet.
Place on a plate with some tamari and wasabi! YUM!
- 3 C. Calrose rice
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 packages or 28 oz. of organic, firm tofu
- 4 Tbsp. sesame oil, divided
- 1/2 C. tamari
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
- 6 small carrots, sliced into long, thin sticks
- 2 small avocados, sliced
- 2 cucumbers, seeded
- 1 - 8 oz. package of cream cheese
- 1 package of nori
- Wasabi (optional)
- Rinse and cook the rice as directed on the bag. When it's done, put it in a large bowl and sprinkle with the rice vinegar. Stir and let cool.
- While the rice is cooling, prep the tofu.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Drain the tofu and slice lengthwise into thin sticks. Lightly oil a cookie sheet with 2 Tbsp. of the sesame oil. Place the tofu on the pan, making sure to leave a little space between each piece. When all of the pieces are spread out, sprinkle with tamari and drizzle the remaining sesame oil. I used two cookie sheets to accommodate two packages of tofu.
- Place the tofu in the oven for 20 min. Then, flip each piece of tofu and place it back in the oven for another 20 min.
- While the tofu is baking, prep the veggies.
- Slice the veggies lengthwise and fairly thin.
- When the tofu is done, remove from the pan and place on a paper towel covered plate. Let the tofu drain and cool.
- When the rice and tofu are cool, you can start assembling you sushi rolls.
- Lay your ingredients out in front of you where you can reach everything easily.
- Place one piece of nori on the sushi mat, vertically.
- Gently shovel the rice out of the bowl with your rice paddle, or wooden spoon, onto your nori. You're going to need about a fist full per piece of nori.
- Spread the rice over the nori and make sure you get the rice as close to the edges as possible. Make sure you get the corners.
- When there is a thin, single layer of rice on the nori, start placing the veggies on the rice. Place them approximately 1/4 the distance away from the edge. Make sure the veggies, cream cheese, and tofu cover the length of the nori.
- Lift the sushi mat from the end closest to you. Gently roll the sushi mat so that the edge of the nori wrapper tucks into the other side of the veggies. Lift the sushi mat from the tuck. With even pressure (like rolling dough), roll the sushi mat away from you until the sushi roll is complete. Unroll the mat. Set the sushi roll aside and repeat until you run out of rice or nori.
- When the rolls are complete, slice your sushi with a sharp, wet knife.
- Enjoy with tamari and wasabi, if you dare.
- Remember to get a small finger bowl with water to rinse your fingers between working with the rice and veggies.
- I would NOT suggest using a serrated knife to cut the sushi rolls because it tears the nori.
- Fresh sushi rolls are always preferable however, you can wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate them, if needed. Just keep in mind that refrigerated rice gets hard.