Many people love everything about sushi except the seaweed. Even hiding it inside a la California roll doesn’t seem to work. But you can use many other ingredients to create a sushi roll, and one such ingredient is sushi.
To make Zucchini Sushi, you should use a y-peeler. Remove the skin from the top and bottom but not the sides. Zucchini sushi recipes typically call for a paste, like softened cream cheese, to hold the roll together, and vegetables are cut thinner than for other types of sushi.
Whether you want to avoid seaweed or don’t have time to make rice, or you want to try something different, read on to learn the tricks to making zucchini sushi that looks so good it might not make it to the table.
Buy the Right Sized Zucchini
You don’t want to buy a zucchini that is too short, or there won’t be enough to roll. Aim for an 8-10-inch (20-25cm) zucchini, and do not use the oversized ones from a neighbor’s yard. Botanists consider zucchini a fruit due to its seeds, and a plump zucchini has too many seeds.
In other words, find a zucchini about the size of a regular cucumber.
Use the Correct Peeler
Cut too thin, and the zucchini will fall apart when you roll it up, but cut too thick, and it will break. The way to prevent zucchini from being too thin is to use the correct peeler.
The swivel and the y-peelers are the two most common ones, and you may have one or both in your kitchen. The swivel peeler is straight and is used to peel fruits and vegetables. If you only have one peeler, it is probably a swivel. This OXO peeler is an excellent example—the countered handle has extra cushioning, and replacement blades are available.
The y-peeler is called that because of its shape. Instead of a straight blade, the y-peeler’s blade is horizontal to the handle. This allows for a broader and more consistent cutting area. Many professionals prefer using them, but they do take a little getting used to. This Cave Tools Y Peeler has a non-slip grip and stainless-steel blade.
Use the Correct Cutting Technique
You will have to make two adjustments to your regular peeling technique if you have never used a y-peeler before. The first adjustment is to peel away instead of toward yourself. The second one is to put the zucchini on a cutting board instead of holding it in your hand.
Leave Some Skin on the Zucchini
Prepping the Zucchini is simple:
- Have your cutting board, y-peeler, and a knife handy
- Cut off both ends of the zucchini.
- Peel the skin from the “top” and “bottom” to flatten the zucchini
- Leave the skin on the sides.
- Place it on the cutting board and slice off strips, holding onto the zucchini at one end.
- Your strips should have thin “borders” of green.
Your y-peeler and how thick you want the strips to determine how hard to press down.
Decide How You Plan to Build Your Rolls
You have three ways to roll your zucchini, and it’s best to decide ahead of time which one you will use.
- Single pieces. These will be light and have less of a zucchini flavor but are a little harder to roll.
- Double-Up. Some people prefer to layer one strip on top of another one. This helps them from tearing when you spread on the “coating.”
- Sheet. Lay them side by side, each one overlapping, creating a nori-like sheet that will be cut after you finish the roll.
By deciding on how you will roll your sushi, you won’t have to rearrange them. The more you move them, the more likely they are to tear.
Use a Sticky Spread As Your Base
Sushi with nori uses a rice base to hold the nori and fillings together. Because zucchini is not as strong as nori, rice is not commonly used. Instead, cooks cover the zucchini strips with spreads such as soft cream cheese.
Not only do the spreads help the sushi roll stick together, but they provide some strength to the zucchini strip.
Don’t Put Fillings on the Entire Zucchini Sheet
You can spread a thin paste over the entire zucchini strip, but if you are using a thicker paste, then spread it over the bottom half of the strips.
The same is true for your fillings. Cover one-third to one-half of the zucchini strips, with less being better.
Cut Veggies Into Thin Slices
You need to Julienne your veggie strips thinner and cut them shorter than you do for regular sushi. This is because you do not want them to tear the sushi. When you stand up your sushi rolls, you do not want them to tip over because they are top-heavy.
Be Creative With Rice Substitutes
Although a few recipes call for rice, it generally does not work well as it is too heavy for the tender zucchini strips. Cream cheese is often used, but some recipes call for quinoa. Several recipes call for creative pastes, such as one that uses cashews.
Speaking of being creative—consider lightly sauteing the zucchini strips before you make your sushi rolls.
Crab and Cream Cheese Zucchini Sushi Rolls
These tasty rolls use a spicy cream cheese and crab mixture for delicious and yet light roll-ups. You will need the following ingredients:
- 4 ounces (113 grams) soft cream cheese
- 1 cup crab meat
- ½ carrot cut into thin strips
- ½ cucumber also cut into matchstick strips
- ½ diced avocado
- 1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
- 1 tsp. lime juice
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
Remember to cut the cucumber and carrot strips no more than ½ to ¾ longer than the width of the zucchini strips. You want a nice presentation, and sushi rolls that fall over will ruin it.
- Cut your vegetables.
- Mix the cream cheese, Sriracha, and lime juice.
- Lay the zucchini slices so the long side faces you and spread a layer of cream cheese on the layers.
- Top the cream cheese with your fillings. Do not go past 1/3 of the way up the zucchini strip.
- Roll up tightly and sprinkle sesame seeds on top
The prep time for these is 20 minutes. Plus, no cooking or baking is required.
Cashew Zucchini Rolls
Even though these rolls do not have rice, the addition of rice vinegar and radishes will give them the authentic taste of sushi rolls.
The night before you make these rolls, soak ½ cup cashews.
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 avocado
- 2 carrots, sliced into matchsticks
- 4 radishes, sliced
- 1 cucumber cut into matchsticks
- 4-6 zucchini
The first step will be to make a paste with the cashews. Drain and blend in a food processor with the rice vinegar. Be prepared to add a tablespoon or two of water to get a soft paste with texture (like hummus).
Once you have made the cashew paste, spread it on the zucchini strips, add your veggies and avocado. Add a couple of cilantro pieces and roll-up.
Speaking of hummus: an alternative is to substitute hummus for the cashew paste. If you do that, do not use rice vinegar or radishes.
Salmon Zucchini Sushi
This recipe adds a traditional fish to the sushi roll.
- 4 ounces (113 grams) softened cream cheese
- Smoked salmon, sliced very thin
- Lemon zest
- Fennel (fresh is best)
- Lemon juice
The key to this roll is having the salmon be sliced thin enough that you can roll the zucchini. Other than that, making this one is similar to other recipes—spread the cream cheese, put the salmon on, add some lemon zest, sprinkle on fennel, and add a few drops of lemon juice.
Consider making a layered zucchini sheet for this recipe.
Whether you call them Zucchini Roll-ups or Zucchini Sushi, these tasty treats are worth making. Be creative with your ingredients, but keep them light, both in weight and flavor. The best part—cooking is not required, which means less time cleaning and more time enjoying friends, family, and food.
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.
- Nomsterchef: Z is for Zucchini Sushi
- Delish: Best Zucchini Sushi Recipe
- Recipes: Raw Zucchini “Sushi” Rolls Recipe
- Gluten-Free Alchemist: Zucchini Roll-Ups