How To Prep Veggies For Vegan Sushi Rolls

by on January 8, 2012


Vegan California Rolls (Uramaki style)

This post is about how to prep your veggies to make vegan sushi rolls. Check out my recipe for Vegan California Rolls.

Vegan sushi rolls are great because they can appeal to everyone from vegans and vegetarians to people who would rather not eat traditional sushi that contains raw fish.

They are fun to make and can be made up in advance for fancy hors d’oeuvres, a potluck, a themed dinner, a lunch box, or a snack! Choose your favourite fillings and I will give you some tips on how to prepare them for putting into sushi rolls.

Generally, the Japanese do not eat raw plain vegetables in their sushi rolls. They mainly use raw fish, cooked shrimp, cooked crab, pickled daikon radish, egg roe, or cooked egg. The raw vegan friendly items you will find are generally cucumber and avocado. Basically because their texture is desirable raw and you can’t really cook them.

For other harder vegetables they are blanched or gently steamed so they can be easier to chew and more pleasurable to eat. You don’t have to steam your crunchy vegetables if you don’t want to. But I’ll give you some suggestions for which ones to do so for a more enjoyable roll.

For cucumber, the English variety is best because it has few seeds and is tender. You want to slice the cucumber about in half and then slice a 1/2″ thick slice vertically down the cucumber. Next julienne it in strips. You will need about 2 strips of cucumber for each roll you are making.

Slice out the seed portion from your cucumber. You don’t need to use it to make sushi rolls.

If you’re using Bell peppers (capsicum) you can leave them uncooked and raw and just slice the top off and julienne into strips.

For carrots, peel them and slice just like the cucumber into 1/2″ thick slices and then julienne.

I recommend steaming the carrots gently so they are not rock hard and crunchy in your sushi roll. It’s up to you, but steaming for 1-2 minutes will improve the eatability of your veggie sushi.

The carrots have turned a light orange and are al dente. Set aside to cool before rolling into sushi.

For avocado, ensure you have a ripe one. The one I have here is pretty ripe so that’s why it’s a little mushy. Generally sushi bars use semi ripe or a little underripe avocado because they go through so many of them and if they are firm it’s easier to work with. Personally I think crunchy watery unripe avocado is gross and will not use it in my cuisine. So pick a green avocado a few days before you want to make sushi and let it ripen on the counter. It is ripe when soft to the touch. Cut it open, pull out the seed and make slices into the avocado. You can pull out a slice at a time as you slice it, or scoop it all out with a spoon.

All my veggies are now prepped and ready to fill my sushi rolls.

Additional veggies you may want to use in your vegan sushi rolls:

green onion – leave raw, wash and slice lengthwise once and then horizontally once.
asparagus – cut off the hard bottoms, and steam gently for 1-3 minutes and let cool.
yams/sweet potato – peel and cut into long rectangular strips and steam until just cooked but still firm.
zucchini/courgette – peel and julienne like cucumber and steam gently for 1-2 minutes if desired. This improves flavour.
pickled daikon radish – can be purchased at Asian markets and julienned. They are usually bright yellow in colour and is used in Oshinko sushi rolls.
sprouts – you can simply wash and dry sprouts like sunflower or alfalfa and use in addition to other veggies in a sushi roll. By themselves would not be very flavourful.

You can also roll sliced tofu, marinated tofu, or bean curd skin in your vegan sushi rolls if desired as well.

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