California rolls are not normally vegan, but you can make them that way at home! Who needs to buy expensive veggie sushi rolls at the store when you can make your own at home?
California rolls are probably the most familiar type of sushi roll to North Americans. It was designed by a Japanese chef in the 1970’s in California to hide the seaweed used for the roll inside and instead put the rice on the outside of the roll. Therefore being less intimidating and easier to stomach for those not accustomed to eating seaweed and enjoying it.
This Vegan California sushi roll is a Uramaki style, which means inside out or inside outside roll. It’s appealing to look at and can be topped with many things like avocado (like in a Dragon Roll) Sesame seeds (common on California Roll) or fish (like in a Rainbow Roll).
I’m going to show you how to make a basic vegan California roll. To veganize it, we’ve had to take out the basic ingredients of a California roll though, the crab stick (fake crab made from pollock fish) and the mayonnaise. Obviously crabstick is not vegan, so I omitting that.
I’m pretty against the idea of eating sushi with mayo as well, because it contains eggs and is basically all oil. Vegan mayo is more a transition food, and not a health food. In North America we use way too much mayo as it is, and this is not part of traditional sushi at all. It’s just a condiment used in California to entice Americans into eating sushi who wouldn’t consider otherwise. This roll tastes delicious without it and is creamy from the avocado.
You can scope out your local health food store or vegetarian-friendly Asian shop if you’re dying to get some vegetarian crab stick for the roll. I just personally don’t have a taste for fake meats and fake fish, and prefer vegetable fillings myself.
This is my version of a healthier California-esque sushi roll. (Because most people think inside out sushi rolls are always California rolls! lol)
To make this roll we are going to use the thick style sushi mat. (The one on the bottom) It’s much stronger and will give a firm shape to the sushi. I bought a set of sushi mats in a cheap 2 pack on Amazon for about $7 with free shipping. You can also find a single mat for a few dollars on Amazon like this one . Asian stores will sell them as well.
How To Wrap Your Bamboo Sushi Mat For Uramaki – Inside Outside Rolls
We’re going to wrap our sushi mat in plastic wrap/saran wrap. We do this because sushi rice is SUPER sticky and will make a mess on the bamboo mat, yet it comes off easily from the plastic wrap. Basically you’re going to wrap it like you would a present with wrapping paper, tucking in all the sides and the wrap should cling to itself to seal it.
Take a piece of plastic wrap and put it on top of one side of the mat. Flip it over and then tuck in the side and top and bottom so that the back side is totally sealed.
Next, take another piece of plastic wrap and place it over the front side (that has the sides tucked in) and flip it over and tuck in the sides and top and bottom again.
Now your sushi mat is ready to make vegan Uramaki sushi (Inside out) rolls.
How To Make A Vegan California (Uramaki style) Sushi Roll
Makes 4 Rolls
You Will Need:
Step 1: Measure between 3/4 and 1 cup of sushi rice depending how much rice you want on your roll. (They are very filling, usually a person can only eat 2 of these rolls because the rice is so filling.) I used a heaping 3/4 cup of rice and it was just enough for me.
Step 2: Lay your nori sheet SHINY side up (which the dotted line side face down) This is the backside of your nori sheet and we’re going to cover it with rice. Dump your rice into the middle of the nori sheet.
Step 3: Using your rice paddles (or very wet fingers) gently push the rice outwards and to the edges and the corners. This will take a while until you get the hang of it. You can leave a tiny space on the top and bottom of the sheet and this will make the roll easier to roll up.
Continue spreading out the rice until you have a layer about 1-2 rice grains thick. It won’t be perfect, but as long as there are no big gaps it will be good.
Step 4: Press your rice down on your nori sheet so that no grains are sticking up and it’s level.
Step 5: Pick up your nori sheet from the bottom, holding tightly and flip it over away from you. Now the dotted section side should be facing you.
Step 6: Fill your nori sheet with desired filling. In this case for my vegan California roll, lay 2 strips of cucumber lengthwise, 2 strips of carrot and 2-3 slices of avocado. Spread them out so they fill the entire roll. It can spill out a little over the side, but not too much. Your filling is going to lay in the first rectangular area of the sheet. After the little bottom bar.
Step 7: Next we’re going to grab the bottom of the sushi mat and bring it up and over creating a tube. You want to make one roll so that you cannot see your filling anymore and tuck and squeeze it under with your hands and the sushi mat. You want to make each roll tight so that your sushi stays together and the filling won’t fall out of the middle when you slice it.
Continue rolling tightly up the nori sheet.
This is what it looks like when 1 full roll is done. Continue rolling.
Roll your nori sheet up until the end. You shouldn’t have to wet the end of the nori to seal it. It has moisture from the sticky rice. You want to squeeze it firmly and evenly all across the mat when you get to the end to seal the roll evenly.
This is what your sushi roll looks like when it’s sealed. If you want to add sesame seeds to your sushi roll, now is the time to do it. Sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and bottom of the roll and use the sushi mat to press the sesame into the roll.
Step 8: Flip your sushi roll over so the seam side is faced down. Get a very sharp knife, wet it thoroughly with water and make a 6-8 cuts to the sushi roll to create sushi pieces. This takes some time and patience. You must wet your knife between EACH cut because your knife will be covered in sticky starch from the rice. If you don’t keep the knife wet and clean before each cut you can tear and mangle your pretty sushi roll. I generally cut these ones into 6 pieces. But if you’re feeding children, it’d be better for 8 pieces so it’s not too big for them to bite into.
Next plate your sushi and serve with soy sauce or tamari and chopsticks!