Making sushi at home is my jam. I don’t do it incredibly often, but I have practiced often enough to get the hang of rolling sushi, so with a little prep work on slicing vegetables or marinating proteins sushi rolls come together in a snap.
I particularly like that I can customize homemade sushi to include whatever I like, especially veggies and pickles! I have been reading recently (and the evidence is far from recent) that global sushi appetites for tuna and other fish are driving significant pressure on fish populations worldwide. Further, I know many people (especially my parents) who are turned off by the concept of eating raw fish in general. While I have enjoyed an occasional sushi roll with tuna or other seafood, I think sushi as a “medium” can be so much more, especially when I have the option to make my own from scratch! If I can keep a favorite food and make planet friend choices then everyone wins. Besides, a nori roll with flavored rice can really contain any ingredients, because why not?
Below I’ve listed a sushi rice recipe, along with some basic prep steps. I’ve also included some of my favorite (mostly vegan) sushi fillings and garnishes. I generally choose 3-6 fillings and a few garnishes, and I aim to balance savory umami with acidity, creamy and fatty with crisp/crunchy, and sweet/salt/spice.
Pictured is a vegetarian sushi filled with panfried, marinated tempeh strips (umami), fresh carrot and spring onion julienne (crisp/crunchy), sesame seeds (umami/crunchy), pickled long beans (acidity), and cilantro (crisp/crunchy). I topped the sushi with ramp aioli (creamy/fatty), pickled ginger (crisp/acidity), sweet Thai chili sauce (sweet/spice), Sriracha (spice/salt) and dipped in soy sauce with wasabi (salt/spice).
Ultimately, get creative! Choose your own sushi adventure. There’s a lot more out there than tuna and the California roll.
For Sushi Rice (makes about 6 rolls)
- Combine 2 cups sushi rice and 2 1/4 cups water in a rice cooker or cook according to package directions on the stove until cooked.
- Remove from heat into a mixing bowl. Stir rice together with 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 1/2 tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Add more as necessary; the rice should taste overseasoned but balanced amongst ingredients.
- Let cool slightly and then use to spread as a base for sushi rolls!
- Marinated tempeh or tofu
- Combine 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari, 1 tbsp hoisin sauce, 1 tsp miso, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar, 1/2 tsp dry ginger, 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or black garlic powder if you have it), and a few dashes liquid smoke in a shallow bowl. Cut protein into strips and toss with marinade. Cover for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, turning proteins once to recoat.
- Drain and pan fry on medium high heat until browned slightly on each side.
- Fried tofu strips
- Tempura sweet potato
- Pickled cucumbers, carrots, or green beans
- Grated red cabbage
- Green onion
- Sesame seeds
- Cilantro stems and leaves
- Shiso leaves
- Thai basil
- Baked portabello mushroom strips
- Chiffonade seaweed
- Sesame seeds
- Soy sauce
- Hoisin sauce
- Thai style sweet chili sauce
- Pickled ginger
- Pickled shallots
- With your prepped ingredients assembled (rice, fillings, toppings, nori) place the nori on a sushi mat with the shiny side facing down and ridges running horizontally.
- Spread 1/6 of the prepared rice on the lower two thirds of the nori, using the side of your hand to keep rice from spreading over the sides. Keep your hands damp (dipping in a bowl of water) to prevent them from sticking to the rice.
- Place fillings in the middle of the rice, then you’re ready to roll! Using both hands, grasp underneath the mat with your palms/thumbs and pinch ingredients in with your fingertips. Roll up, pulling the mat up as it meets the nori. Roll completely shut, rocking the roll in the bamboo mat to seal.
- Slice thinly with a very sharp knife. Garnish and serve with dipping sauces!