Light, flavorful, and filling… sushi has become a popular ‘dine-out’ choice for Americans and people around the world. The main ingredients of this typical Japanese dish include vinegared rice, vegetables like cucumber, avocado, and radish sprouts, nori, which is a type of seaweed, and raw fish, such as salmon, tuna, and yellowtail, to name a few. Sushi is commonly served with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger.
Many sushi joints today offer an “all-you-can-eat” menu for a very reasonable price. However, today’s indiscriminate fishing and industrial fishing nets are destroying aquatic ecosystems allover the planet. In addition, due to the high levels of contamination in our planet’s oceans and rivers, many of the fish types used for making sushi contain high levels of mercury, toxic substances derived from plastic consumption (polychlorinated biphenyl or PCB and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs) , and other harmful chemicals that fish absorb into their tissue from the polluted water. So, making vegan sushi is definitely a healthy, delicious, and greener choice!
As sophisticated and complex as sushi might seem, if you have the right tools and ingredients, making sushi is quiet simple and easy. In addition, pickled ginger, an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine, is also really easy to prepare.
Do you want to impress your guests and indulge in a fresh and delicious homemade plant-based sushi dinner? Set up your cooking station, prepare all your ingredients and tools, and get rolling!
All of the necessary ingredients to make sushi can be found in the ethnic food aisle of most grocery stores or at your neighborhood’s ethnic or Asian market.
♦Ginger: this aromatic and spicy root can improve your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, kill microbes, protect your liver, relieve throat and nose congestion, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Besides its amazing health benefits, pickled ginger is the perfect bite to refresh your mouth and clean your palate in between sushi rolls: a bit sour, a bit sweet and a bit spicy.
♦Short grain Japanese rice: this type of rice sticks together much better than any other rice, which makes it ideal for making sushi. In Japan, there are hundreds of kinds of short grain rice and is the most popular type of rice in the country. In the United States this rice is commonly grown in California and, at the store, typically labeled as Calrose rice.
♦Rice wine & rice vinegar: you will need these two ingredients to mix with the rice once it’s cooked.
♦Nori: a flavorful and salty sea weed rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. Nori , sold toasted and sealed to preserve its crispiness , comes in sheets of 8’’ x 7’’ or 8’’ X 10’’.
♦Wasabi: this potent wild river-growing root, also called Japanese horseradish, will add a hot and authentic touch to your sushi experience! Wasabi Japonica is consider a super food and a powerful herbal medicine, and is believed to be responsible for the longevity of the Japanese people. You have to have some wasabi with your sushi!
Pickled Ginger Ingredients and Tools:
- 4 ounces of ginger root (organic if possible)
- 1 teaspoon of coarse salt
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- Rice vinegar
- A spoon to peel the ginger
- A knife or slicer to slice the ginger
- A sanitized glass jar with a lid
If you are making the pickled ginger yourself, you will have to prepare it a few days in advance to allow it to cure in the fridge.
- Wash and peel ginger root (the edge of a spoon works better than a knife or a vegetable peeler).
- With the knife, slice ginger as thin as possible (you can also use a slicer).
- Place ginger slices in a bowl or container with a lid and add a teaspoon of coarse salt for every 4 ounces of ginger. With your fingers, mix ginger with salt until salt grains disappear. Cover container and let rest in the fridge for a few hours.
- Vinegar Mix: in a small pan on medium heat, mix rice vinegar (1/2 cup every 4 ounces of ginger) and sugar (two tablespoons every 4 ounces of ginger) and stir until sugar completely dissolves into the vinegar. Remove from heat.
- Place your salted ginger in a paper or fabric towel and dry it. Then place dry ginger in the jar and add the vinegar mix to the jar and let cool.
- Finally, cover pickled ginger jar with lid and let cure in the fridge for two or three days.
Sushi Ingredients and Tools:
- 2 cups of short grain Japanese rice (makes 5 to 6 large rolls)
- ¼ cup of rice wine
- ¼ cup of rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 5 to 6 sheets of nori (or rice paper)
- Vegetables of your choice: cucumber, avocado, jalapeño, steamed carrot, roasted asparagus, gobo, sunflower sprouts, bell pepper, spinach, beets, green onion, chives, cilantro, etc.
- Sesame seed or seed mix
- Soy sauce
- Sriracha (optional)
- Rice steamer (if available)
- Bamboo rolling mat
- Cutting board
- Wax paper or plastic wrap (for inside out rolls)
- Soy sauce dishes
The rice can be prepared in a rice cooker or a pot. Make sure you buy good quality short-grain Japanese rice and rinse all of the starch off of rice before cooking.
- In a medium bowl, add two cups of sushi rice. Rinse the rice with water 4 or 5 times, or until water is no longer ‘milky.’
- Drain rice and place it in rice cooker or pot. If you are using a rice cooker, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are cooking the rice on the stove, combine 2 cups of rice with 2 cups of cold water in a medium pot on high heat. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat and cover until water evaporates completely (about 20 minutes). Once your rice is cooked let it rest covered for 10 minutes.
- While your rice is resting, prepare the vinegar mix. In a small pot or saucepan on medium heat, combine ¼ cup of rice vinegar, ¼ cup of rice wine, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a teaspoon of salt. Stir until sugar dissolves, then remove from heat.
- Place your sushi rice in a large bowl or tray and evenly pour the vinegar mix over it. Mix gently until rice absorbs all the vinegar mix. Then cover with a damp cloth and let it cool for a few hours (or place in the fridge for faster cooling).
Filling & Rolling:
- Get your knife, cutting board, bamboo rolling mat, nori and veggies and set your rolling station. You will also need a medium bowl with clean water to keep your hands moist while rolling (this will prevent the rice from sticking to your fingers).
- Thinly slice your vegetables and set them on a plate next to your rolling mat.
- Place a sheet of nori on the rolling mat and with wet fingers, start adding and flattening rice until the nori is completely covered with a thin layer of rice.
- Place your thinly sliced veggies in a line in the center of the rice and with the rolling mat, roll the nori on top of the veggies. With the palms of your hands and your fingers, apply some pressure to the roll. Roll the rest of the way and apply pressure one more time to shape and secure the roll.
- With your knife, cut the sushi roll in half. Then cut into quarters and then into eighths. Plate and garnish with sprouts, pickled ginger and wasabi.
Note: for the ‘inside-out roll,’ place rice on a sheet of wax paper or film and then place nori on top (as shown in the pictures). You can also use rice paper instead of nori.