With more and more people adopting meat-free or plant-based diets, it can help to have an arsenal of vegetarian and vegan options in your sushi repertoire. Many diners in westernised countries are exposed to a poor selection, but when you find a chef who knows what they are doing, the results and the options are endless.
Standard fish-free sushi options in the Western world, avocado and cucumber have rightfully earned their place, but they are not the only ingredients you can use. Here are a few ideas suitable for people who prefer fish, seafood, and meat-free food.
Cucumber Maki and More
We eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths, so food that makes a visual impact is always a hit with guests. Your vegan friends are sure to love cucumber maki (plus, it gives you a chance to use your rolling mat). Keep in mind that this variation is a popular starter, so make sure you check out other recipes for vegan sushi.
Handrolls, also known as temaki, are a great way to wow guests with the unique taste of natto, a gloopy paste of fermented soybeans. The beans are fermented with a strain of healthy bacteria.
Shiitake Mushroom Nigiri
Just like real money bingo games, nigiri is incredibly popular. In its original form, nigiri is a piece of raw fresh fish the same size and shape as the log of rice on which it rests. Your vegetarian friends can enjoy the next-best thing – nigiri made with shiitake mushroom that has been slightly seasoned with salt or soy sauce and cooked lightly over a flame.
Tamagoyaki – the Egg Option
Some vegetarians eat egg, and you can cater for them by making tamagoyaki nigiri. Instead of fish, seafood, or vegetable, the bite-sized rice log is topped with a piece of sweet and savoury omelette. The tamagoyaki is usually held in place with a band of seaweed. Making the omelette, which uses eggs, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and salt, is quick and easy. When cooked, it is folded up and sliced.
Nasu Your Way
Nasu, or eggplant, lends itself to different ways of being prepped for sushi. You can pickle it for chewiness and tartness, or you can grill it until it is butter soft. Another option is to make a tempura batter (remember to use a recipe that uses bean brine or another plant-based egg replacement), and then complement the tempura eggplant with grated ginger.
A traditional offering at Shinto shrines in Japan, inarizushi is named after the fox that carries messages to and from the gods. Believed to be one of the fox’s favourite treats, it is a pouch made of tofu, and filled with traditional sushi rice and sesame seeds. Making inarizushi is a completely different experience to making other types of sushi, not least because of the tofu pocket and the cooking method. It is not the most common form of sushi outside of Japan, and so making it is worth the extra effort.