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I started learning how to make different types of sushi last summer in case I never leave the house; it seemed like a worthy survivability to acquire. And while I’m definitely still a student, especially making maki (buns), it’s exciting to be able to teach you how to make these 10 easy bites that are fun to craft and eat.
First a word about rice: if you have time for this adventure, grab a bag of Shirakiku Koshihikari rice, which takes an hour to make between resting and cooking. If you want the TL; DR quickie, I recommend the local Lotus Foods brand organic jade pearl rice, which cooks in 10 minutes.
Once your rice is cooked and steamed, and you’re ready to open the lid, you’ll want to add about ¼ cup of rice vinegar (which has optionally been mixed with a teaspoon or two of sugar). Cut into the rice with a rice paddle and carefully mix the vinegar into the rice with the cuts, without crushing large portions of the rice in the pot. Use the rice paddle to suck out the steam during the process by alternately moving and cooling the rice. Let cool for at least 20 minutes.
Only two of these ideas call for nori seaweed – if you’re looking to make the temaki (hand roll) you should buy large sheets, while the oshizushi recipe calls for any brand of fun sized nori snack sheets.
Also known as a hand roll, Temaki is a sushi shape that you can let off steam and really have fun with.
Fish and chips temaki
Vallejo’s Better Chew is a fun, plant-based fried fish that comes frozen and can be baked in the oven in 10 minutes. Halve a nori sheet and place horizontally on a plate or cutting board. Place a small handful of rice in the shape of an upside-down triangle.
Top with fish fillet, add two or three mashed potato chips on the right side and sprinkle with a dash of vegan sour cream (I like the version from SF’s Forager Project). Starting with the lower left side, carefully seal everything into a cone and fold the nori sheet under it if necessary.
To make the small bases for nigiri (hand-pressed sushi), wet your hands with water and take a small handful of rice. Work the piece into a semi-flat oval by pressing down on either side with the length of your index finger. Once you’ve done a few of these, here are some top ideas:
Crab cake nigiri
Prepare a packet of Gardein’s Mini Crispy Crabless Cakes, cut in half and place half on top of the rice.
Coconut prawns and pineapple Nigiri
Bake a box of Mind Blown Coconut Shrimps from The Plant-Based Seafood Co. Place a small slice of pineapple on top of the rice and top with a shrimp.
Tuna and purple daikon nigiri
Notuna Sashimi by Vegan Zeastar feels and cuts like fish, but has a relatively neutral taste that is ripe for marinating. Cut into slices, place on top of the rice and top with a thin slice of purple daikon.
Red miso lion’s mane nigiri
Far West Fungi in the Ferry Building has these wild lion’s mane mushrooms right now. Cut into nigiri-sized pieces, mix with soy sauce, olive oil, rice vinegar and a spoon of red miso paste and roast in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Place slices on top of the rice and get ready to praise it.
Delicata and pear nigiri
Roast halves of a Delicata pumpkin for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Let cool, cut into rainbow-shaped slices and remove the skin. Place on rice and then top with a pear slice (I used Hosui).
Taste Queen Pluot and Mint Nigiri
Pears are great and everything, but we’re lucky enough to just barely find stone fruit in the Bay Area. A slice of this firm Flavor Queen Pluot and a sprig of mint go perfectly with rice, but use whatever you can get that isn’t mushy yet. Last call!
Another simple style you can make is Oshizushi (pressed sushi), which is made with a rectangular wooden box frame, platform, and top called Oshizushihako, which I line with plastic wrap for easy molding. You can choose whether you want to prepare one or two layers of rice with the filling of your choice in the middle and the option of adding additional ingredients. The yield is four square or eight rectangular pieces that are easily cut with a wet knife after you’ve wrapped your rectangle and chilled in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. Your oshizushi options are endless, but here are three ideas to get you started.
Cucumber and avocado oshizushi
Cucumber, avocado and jalapeño oshizushi
In a bowl, mash a ripe avocado with a fork. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of lemon and keep mashing until you have a guac-like appearance. Later, add a bottom of pressed rice to your oshizushihako, then spread an even layer of avocado over the top. Cover with another layer of rice, press down firmly and then remove the rice rectangle with the cling film.
Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before cutting into rectangles or squares. Cut a Japanese cucumber in circles and place them on top of your squares. You can do the same with Jalapeño slices for those who like to get noticed.
Kimchi Jicama Oshizushi volcano
I’m a fan of all SF’s Volcano Kimchi products, but my favorite is the Kimchi Jicama. Take a nori snack sheet and place a rice square in the center. Cover with a square of jicama and drizzle some juice over it. Splendid!
I hope something here got you to go to the kitchen and make your own vegan sushi, be it with the help of some of these ideas or new ideas that you now have on your mind.
If you just fancy having someone else prepare vegan or vegetarian sushi for you, don’t forget the excellent, long-standing Mission District spots Cha-Ya and Shizen. You can also check out the new Chīsai Sushi Club, which opened this week in the former ICHI Sushi room for a vegetarian omakase meal, or the upcoming vegan Sancha Sushi, available for delivery only, which is one roll at a time my favorite eighties has named songs, “Pass the Dutchie” by Musical Youth. Keep going with plants!
More recipes and culinary curiosities can be found on Tamara’s website California food.