There are a few things as delicious as Japanese sushi. A traditional meal of vinegared rice, raw vegetables, and seafood, sushi has been part of the history of Japan for centuries. Sushi has severed its ties with these old traditions, as different cultures adopt it.
The steps to make veggie sushi rolls begin by cooking sushi rice and seasoning with vinegar. Once ready, spread out the rice over seaweed atop a bamboo mat. As a replacement to fish, top the sushi rice with veggie fillings of your choice. Roll up your mat to form firm veggie sushi rolls.
In this guide, we’ll go into more detail on how to prepare delicious vegetarian sushi rolls from scratch. You’ll also learn the history of sushi, how creative sushi rolls came about, and the different sushi rolls that are vegetarian. Let’s dive in.
History of Sushi
The ancient islander’s needs to preserve their meat gave rise to modern-day sushi. The Japanese would wrap their fish in rice and allow it to ferment. They would later eat the meat and discard the rice. Eventually, rice wine vinegar became a central fixture in the fermentation process, speeding up the curing of meat.
The practice of eating raw fish sushi up-sprung in the 1820s as the Edo-style of making sushi came into existence. Edo is Tokyo’s old name, and the Edo style of cooking denotes the era’s fast food business or Edomaesushi.
This culinary practice comprised rice cooked with vinegar as a seasoning and fresh raw fish. In the Edo period, the Japanese were busy people, encouraging the proliferation of fast food businesses, catering to Edo style cuisine. This “Edo front” kind of cooking gave rise to diverse types of sushi.
The Rise of Creative Sushi Styles
The salty and sweet style of cuisine that sushi embodies soon spread beyond the city’s fishing harbor locality to the rest of Japan and later the world. The Edomae style of sushi’s principal ingredients was native to the Tokyo bay; Bonito, tuna, sea eels, halibut, and shellfish.
To extend their shelf life at the street stands, the Japanese chefs would simmer these ingredients in the broth. The bonito, tuna, and halibut were an exception, so they would immerse them in soy sauce to safeguard their raw texture. The sodium in the soy sauce would slow down their decay.
Fish with strong flavors such as mackerel would undergo a curing process involving vinegar and salt. The fish’s strong flavors can withstand harsher treatment. The sushi rice would have vinegar that would hinder spoilage while enhancing its taste.
Some condiments that would accompany the Edo style include wasabi, hot mustard for fresh bonito, and grated ginger or shoga for gizzard shad. They would take halibut plain with salt or light citrus and soy sauce.
This style of cooking has been developing over the years. Sushi has been severing its ties with these old traditions as fusion style sushi comes into vogue. Chefs are no longer interested in focusing on the flavor of a single ingredient.
Today, you can blend and mix ingredients to create new exciting flavors. “Creative sushi” as the Japanese call it can focus on the character of one ingredient, but it can have a second component in smaller amounts to complement the key element of the meal.
This style of cooking makes sushi borderless. Perhaps the best type of creative sushi on the scene today is the veggie sushi roll.
Different Veggie Sushi Rolls
Thanks to its adaptability, sushi has become a favorite lunchtime healthy food alternative in many parts of the world. This is despite the fact that in Japan, sushi is a meal for special occasions such as birthdays. Guests in Japan get sushi as a treat since it is an expensive luxury.
Sushi has become such a fun meal to have that you will find its short bite-sized variations in dinner gatherings, New Year parties, or lunches at work in the west. Sushi has also become a staple in the home menu. It is a fun meal to create with the entire family.
Experiment with diverse vegetarian taste combinations for more thrills at the dinner table. Veggie sushi rolls are surprisingly easy to make. The primary task and perhaps the most exciting will be putting together your ingredients.
With just a bit of preparation, you can have a delicious, healthy, and satisfying meal for the complete family that tastes as good as it looks. Practice and get the sushi veggie roll process just right, and you can have your nutritious sushi as a light meal, appetizer, or main course, every other day.
Veggie sushi rolls go along well with cucumber or seaweed salads. They also pair well with tea, sake, beer, or white wine. Unlike sashimi-grade tuna that is often expensive and scarce, you can make your sushi veggie rolls all year round with the vegetables in season.
Some of the most common vegetables that make delicious veggie sushi rolls include:
- Cucumber (you can leave the skin on. Cut into strips)
- Carrot (cut into thin strips)
- Pickled plums (seeds removed)
- Daikon radish (cut into thin strips)
- Avocado (cut into thin slices)
- Bell pepper (cut into long thin strips)
- Shiso leaves (these have a bit of a strange taste. So use sparingly and tear into very tiny pieces)
- Shiitake mushroom (if dried, first soak in water for 30 minutes then squeeze out the water. Remove stems and cut into thin slices)
- Asparagus (Steam lightly. If small, it can be left whole, otherwise, cut into long strips)
What Sushi Rolls Are Vegetarian?
As already mentioned, there are diverse types of sushi that have arisen from the Edo style of cooking. Maki is what most sushi enthusiasts think of when they hear the word ‘sushi’. Maki has fish, veggies, and layers of sushi rice, one on top of the other.
All the contents of the Maki are then rolled up together in a sheet of seaweed or nori. The traditional sushi roll is a maki. Its variations such as the Temaki also resemble a sushi roll. Temaki’s preparation strongly resembles that of the Maki, but the former has less seaweed. Temaki has a cone shape, and its chefs mold it by hand.
The evolution of sushi has resulted in so many variations of the original Japanese cuisine. Vegetarian sushi rolls are among these new “creative sushi” that offer a range of exciting flavors. The Hosomaki (looks like a Maki roll but often has only one ingredient to go along with the sushi rice) is what popularly makes the vegetarian sushi roll.
The vegan maki roll will give you a lot of control over its ingredients. It is a perfect meal for any dietary requirements.
The simple process of making a vegan sushi roll involves placing seaweed sheets on a bamboo mat, spreading rice all over it, and then adding the veggie toppings. To wind up your veggie sushi roll process, roll up the bamboo mat to create a firm sushi roll. And finally, to serve in bite-sized portions, cut the roll carefully sideways.
As per Japanese mythology, this Maki-zushi borrows its name from water goblins. These small gracile creatures love cucumber and love to sumo wrestle. The kappa or kawatarō are green and have human-like feet and hands with webbed features.
The kappa maki is a dish that the kawatarō and the humans alike love. It is a veggie sushi roll with cucumber in it and is perfect for vegetarians. The kappa maki has thin strips of cucumber in a roll of seaweed and sushi rice. It is a fantastic vegan sushi roll for a palate cleanser or starter.
Takuan/ Shinko Maki
The principal ingredient in the Takuan and Shinko maki is the daikon or white radish. Daikon looks like a white large plump carrot. You can have the winter radish in its raw, pickled, or cooked form. Its skin is edible so you can choose not to peel it.
Its greens make a great salad and make an impressive addition to soups. The Asian radish has a light spicy and sweet flavor and has very crunchy flesh. It is also very juicy and makes crisp spicy pickles such as Takuan in Japan.
Shinko is a name that refers to pickles. The Takuan maki offers a wonderful change in texture and taste for the vegan sushi fan. The bright yellow pickled radish will give the palate a tangy taste and crunchy texture that is refreshingly tasty.
Kampyo/ Kanpyo Maki
This maki is a traditional Edo style sushi and you will find it in some older Tokyo shops. In Japan, the kanpyo roll comes at the end of a meal acting as a palate cleanser. That said, it is also quite filling, should you take it as a main course. The kanpyo veggie roll is a modest maki but has a labor-intensive preparation process.
Kanpyo hails from the calabash gourds dried shavings. The Japanese refer to this gourd as fukube or yugao. Kanpyo features in Edo style cuisine as an ingredient. Grown around Osaka it is given rise to a large cottage industry that harvests the gourd, cuts it into strips, then sundries, or dehydrates it for sale.
Natural unbleached kanpyo is not white but has an attractive creamy hue. To make the kanpyo maki at home, you will need to soak your gourd in water for a day to allow it to soften. Afterward, cut it into strips, boil, and salt it till its tender.
The next process is marination. Use sugar and soy sauce to flavor your kanpyo then roll within a seaweed sheet for mild, toothy, and flavorful Edomae maki. You can also use pickled kanpyo to make your vegan sushi roll.
Ume/ Cucumber Shiso Makizushi
The umeshiso maki sushi is a classic vegan sushi roll that has two principal components as filler. It has a combination of fresh shiso leaves and pickled plums. The plums have a salty taste that perfectly complements the shiso leaf’s greenness.
The creative cucumber shiso makizushi has strips of crispy cucumber strips. This maki makes for a perfect end of a meal or mid-meal bite.
8 Easy Steps to Make Veggie Sushi Rolls
1. Gather the Cooking Ingredients
You’ll need ingredients to make the sushi rice first, then other ingredients for the veggie roll, and finally some sauces for serving.
For preparing the sushi rice (serving 4):
- 3 cups of sushi rice (medium or short-grain)
- 3 1/2cups cold water
- 0.5 cup sushi vinegar
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon sugar
For the vegetarian sushi roll:
- Sheets of roasted nori
- Vegetables of your choice (e.g cucumber)
- Wasabi paste
- pickled ginger
- soy sauce
2. Thoroughly Wash the Sushi Rice
The secret to the best sushi rice is well-washed rice. Rinse your rice at least five times in clean water until it loses the excessive starch.
3. Cook the Sushi Rice
Cooking sushi rice may sound like a laborious task, but it is not. Think of it as making your everyday rice, but with rice vinegar in it. A single cup of rice will make three maki.
Pour the water and sushi rice into a rice cooker or thick bottom pot. In the beginning, cook the rice on high heat, stirring it every two minutes. When the water has boiled, low the heat and cover the rice. After six to eight minutes, the rice should absorb all the water, signaling you it is ready.
4. Season the Rice With Vinegar
The main difference between ordinary rice and sushi rice is the rice vinegar flavor. So at this point, you need to season your rice with vinegar.
To make the vinegar seasoning, only use rice vinegar. Any other type of vinegar will have a bad taste. Heat the sugar, salt, and rice vinegar together in a pot or microwave until the sugar has dissolved. Let all the solids mix well.
Transfer the cooked rice to a hangiri (wooden tub or tray) using your shamoji. If there is rice stuck at the bottom of the rice cooker or pot, do not scrape it out. Use the rice that comes out easily since it will taste better and is less dry.
Add the vinegar seasoning to the rice evenly immediately after it is out of the pot. Mix it into the rice using a cutting motion. Continue mixing until the vinegar mixture is properly distributed.
Leave the rice to cool until it is at room temperature. Fan it, place it near your kitchen window, or turn up the A/c to facilitate rapid cooling. Do not refrigerate.
5. Prepare the Veggie Sushi Rolls
This is the fun bit. You can invite your children or your friends over for some hand rolls fun. To make the best rolls, keep your hands moist when handling the rice, to minimize the rate at which rice sticks on them. Have some damp towels and a bowl of water ready for the rolling process (explained in the next step).
Soak your bamboo mat in water to cut down on the stickiness. Dry the mat and leave it just a bit damp. Next, place a piece of seaweed on the mat and cover it with a slim coating of vinegared rice. Use your fingers to spread the rice to form an even layer. Make sure to leave a 1-inch (2 cm) border at the top edge of the nori for sealing the roll.
In the middle of the rice, place a thin row of veggies of your choice. Arrange them horizontally. You can go through the suggested vegetables that we listed above to decide which veggie filling you want to use.
6. Roll Up the Sushi
After all your fillings are in place, begin rolling the sushi from the edge nearest to you. Roll the bamboo mat over and press it forward while shaping your nori to create a tight sushi roll. Do this to the end.
The free edge of the nori should stick down to make a seal. If this doesn’t seal properly, wet the edge with a bit of water using your finger, then roll it again.
7. Cut the Veggie Sushi Rolls Into Bite Sizes
Unroll the bamboo mat and place the sushi veggie roll on a cutting board. Using a damp cloth, wet a sharp knife and then use it to cut your maki in half. Slice each half into three pieces.
For a more visual illustration of how to roll and cut your sushi, check out this sushi chef’s demonstration:
8. Serve the Sushi Rolls With Soy Sauce
Arrange your veggie sushi rolls on a platter and serve along with wasabi paste, pickled ginger, and a soy sauce dip.
There you have it, eight easy steps to make the perfect veggie sushi rolls. The best part is that you can make these yummy treats ahead of time and cover in plastic wrap to prevent drying out. And after everyone has eaten to their fill, you can still keep the leftovers wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and have them for lunch the next day.
Here are some of my favorite sushi making tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you find it useful as you make sushi at home. Here are some tools I’ve used that I hope you’ll find helpful, too. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to use any of them, I will earn a commission. But honestly, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my family.
Rice cooker: For getting started, I really like Zojirushi Rice Cooker. The Zojirushi Rice cooker does not only make rice-cooking dirt simple, but it is a quality gadget that cooks better than most chefs can. Unlike most kitchen gadgets, it does not sacrifice quality for convenience.
Knife:The Kai Knife is one of the best sushi knives in the market. Made in Japan’s famous knife-making capital, Seki city.
- The FruitGuys: Roll Your Own Sushi
- Make my Sushi: Perfect Sushi Rice
- Kuoni:Sushi is just raw fish and other Japanese sushi myths
- Sushi School: WHAT IS EDOMAE-SUSHI?
- Groupon: Nigiri vs Sashimi vs Maki: What’s the Difference?
- SUSHI-TSU: Kappa-Maki
- SUSHI-TSU: sushi-tsu
- Wikipedia: Kanpyō (food)
- Thekitchn: Try This: Umeshiso Maki Sushi
- All About Sushi Guide: Hangiri