Love sushi, but don’t want the faff of making your own? Try this recipe for a vegan sushi bowl instead. It’s such a delicious bowl of flavoursome Japanese-inspired healthy goodness, you’ll be coming back to it again and again.
I adore sushi, but I find it too time consuming to prepare, even on a semi regular basis. In fact, I’ve only ever made it twice and that was more a case of helping CT than doing it myself. Cue my version of sushi in a bowl.
Vegan Sushi Bowl
If you’ve never had a sushi bowl it’s actually quite similar to a poké bowl. But you may never have had one of those either. Basically, it’s a riff on a traditional sushi roll.
Instead of rolling ingredients into a sheet of seaweed, the ingredients sit free and independent in a bowl. It’s then up to you, the diner, to pick and choose what goes with what.
This vegan sushi bowl is a healthy meal option, but beware, it is calorie dense.
Don’t let the long list of ingredients put you off. There are several processes involved in this vegan sushi bowl, but each one is quick to prepare.
The quantities I’ve given in the recipe is enough for two bowls, but if you want more, just double or triple the ingredients as required.
Every time we tuck into a sushi bowl, CT lets me know everything is just as it should be. He says “this is the taste of Japan”.
Vegan Sushi Bowl Ingredients
There are a few essential ingredients required in order to make this sushi-inspired bowl of deliciousness. Like all good sushi it needs protein, starch, vegetables, seaweed, varied colours and lots of flavour.
Indeed, it’s good to aim for the whole five flavours: sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami. In this vegan sushi bowl the main source of sweet and sour comes in the form of pickles. Bitter notes are present in many vegetables, but it’s wasabi here that really gives that bitter pungent kick.
Tamari, sea salt and seaweed give that much loved salty content. As for the umami, that comes in the form of tamari and seaweed.
Varied textures are another essential requirement when it comes to sushi. You want chewy, crunchy, smooth and creamy. It’s thus a good idea to have a mix of both raw and cooked vegetables.
For the raw elements of this vegan sushi bowl, I have carrots, spring onions and avocado. Whilst I’ve gone for edamame beans and sweet peppers for the cooked ones.
You’ll need a few essential Japanese ingredients too. Most of these will last quite a while in your store cupboard, so don’t be afraid of buying them. You’ll find a list of them at the bottom of this section.
Sushi rice is a short-grain Japanese sticky rice. It’s not particularly easy to get hold of here in the UK, but you can use other types of short-grain rice instead. I use short-grain brown rice, which is a lot healthier than white and is also really tasty.
It’s a good idea to soak the rice before cooking. This is especially true of brown rice. Soaking makes it easier to clean as the rice sinks to the bottom, rather than floating on the top. But more importantly it reduces the cooking time quite significantly. If you don’t get a chance to soak the rice or only soak it for a short while, it will need longer to cook.
Start this vegan sushi bowl by getting the rice on. Rinse it well and drain. Pour off the soaking water, which is usually quite dirty, then cover with some more water. Give it a good swirl, then pour off the excess water. Repeat once more, if necessary.
Place in a small saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Cover with fresh water to about twice its depth and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a bare simmer and cook for fifteen minutes. Turn the heat off, but leave to steam with the lid on for a further ten minutes. Don’t be tempted to take a look at this point or the steam will escape.
Sushi Rice Dressing
Once you’ve cooked the rice, you need to mix in a dressing. This not only gives the rice flavour, but it helps to bind it together and make it “sticky”.
For this vegan sushi bowl, I’ve made a dressing of tamari, brown rice vinegar, mirin and nori seaweed flakes.
Traditional sushi rice dressing usually contains a bit of sugar. I don’t add sugar to mine as mirin is already quite sweet and I don’t think it’s necessary.
Traditional sushi is wrapped in sheets of toasted nori seaweed. It’s an integral part of the sushi experience and provides important nutritional benefits. It’s packed full of vitemins A, B, C, D, E and K for a start.
For this vegan sushi bowl, I’ve gone for green nori flakes in lieu of nori sheets. Instead of wrapping the rice in seaweed, I’ve added the seaweed to the rice.
Nori flakes are fairly easy to buy. Just look in the world section of your local supermarket or hunt them out in your nearest health food or whole food shop. They’re really useful for sprinkling over all sorts of dishes as seasoning and a bit of extra goodness.
Edamame beans are young whole soy beans. They may not look like any soy beans you’ve seen before though. This is because they’e harvested young and it’s this that accounts for their bright green colour. They’re highly nutritious and are best known for having a high protein content. However, they’re also particularly good for dietary fibre, antioxidants and vitamin K.
They’re not particularly traditional for use in sushi, but they are very Japanese. And I reckon they make a nice change from tofu.
You can use either fresh or frozen beans, but they do need to be podded. For ease, make sure you buy the ready podded ones. I use frozen as I’ve never actually come across fresh ones. Frozen edamame are quite easy to get hold of in most UK supermarkets these days.
Swap them for cubes of tofu if you prefer. You can treat the tofu in much the same way as the edamame, except it doesn’t need boiling first.
Carrots provide one of the raw ingredients in this vegan sushi bowl. They also give a lovely burst of colour and nutrition. Carrots are not only good for vitamin A, but also contain a number of beneficial antioxidants.
Don’t peel your carrots. Unless they’re particularly grotty on the outside, all they need is a quick scrub. Much of the nutrition is in the peel and it’s a shame to waste it. If you can get organic carrots, so much the better.
Cut them into matchsticks, then either keep them as is or pickle them lightly. I prefer them slightly pickled, so I used some of the pickling liquid in the packet of sushi ginger that I bought. If you want to make a larger batch of them, follow my recipe for carrot pickles. They keep for ages.
I’ve gone for fried sweet peppers in this recipe. But you could replace them with just about anything.
They provide a lovely pop of colour. You can just cut them into sticks and have them as a raw crunchy element, but if you fry them, it brings out the sweetness and makes them really delicious.
Creamy avocado is my favourite ingredient in a veggie or vegan sushi roll. So for me it’s a must in this vegan sushi bowl. I love the delicate flavour, but it’s also good for providing additional texture, colour and nutrition.
If you’ve ever eaten sushi in a Japanese restaurant, you’ll know that mayonnaise is an integral part of the experience. Any sushi bowl worth its salt should have some too.
A little flavoursome mayonnaise drizzled or blobbed over the top makes a real difference to this vegan sushi bowl. I didn’t use Japanese mayonnaise, which I actually find too sweet, but my own homemade vegan mayonnaise. If you haven’t tried this before, please give it a go. It’s so easy and a real game changer.
I mix wasabi into the mayonnaise, rather than have them both as separate elements. It works really well. The wasabi kick is there, but it’s just not quite as powerful and it adds some extra flavour to the mayonnaise too.
Mix a teaspoon of water into the mayonnaise to make it runny enough for drizzling.
Essential Japanese Ingredients For Vegan Sushi Bowls
Although these items are generally expensive, they’re well worth having. All but the wasabi will keep for a long time and if you like Japanese food, you’ll use them again and again. They’re fairly easy to get hold of in supermarkets these days. But if you have any problems, most health food or whole food shops will stock them or you can buy online.
- Tamari – a gluten-free form of traditional Japanese soy sauce and probably the best quality one too. It’s expensive, but so full of flavour, a little goes a long way.
- Mirin – a sweet rice wine specifically fermented for cooking. It’s similar to sake, but sweeter and not as strong. At a pinch, you can use sherry as a substitute.
- Brown rice vinegar – the classic vinegar used to season sushi. It’s distilled from unpolished brown rice and is thus richer in nutrients than its white counterpart.
- Toasted sesame oil – a delicious finishing oil with a toasty, nutty flavour and dark colour. Unlike regular sesame oil, do not use this for cooking. A little goes a long way, so only use it in small amounts.
- Nori seaweed – find this in the form of dried green flakes or toasted sheets. It’s essential for any type of authentic sushi.
- Wasabi – a little like horseradish in flavour this is a green root. You can either buy it fresh and finely grate it, or buy it in the form of a ready-made paste.
- Pickled ginger – slices of young root ginger that are pickled in rice vinegar and traditionally accompany sushi. Whilst I’ve given this as an optional ingredient, I highly recommend it, however it’s quite expensive to buy. One day, I shall have a go at pickling some myself.
How To Build A Vegan Sushi Bowl
It’s important to have something that looks visually pleasing with plenty of colour and variety. The Japanese are famous for their elegance and refinement when it comes to food.
Start with the rice. You don’t have to use the vegetables I’ve stated in my recipe, but if you go for something different, make sure you choose contrasting colours. Go for something raw, something pickled and something cooked.
Divide the rice between two bowls, making sure it doesn’t take up more than half the bowl. Then add the edamame on one side.
Add the carrots, peppers, beans, onion slices and avocado in piles around the bowl. Add a few slices of pickled ginger, if using.
Finally, drizzle or blob the mayonnaise strategically around the bowl then scatter with the sesame seeds.
Unearth your chopsticks and enjoy.
Make Your Own Vegan Sushi Bowl
Take my recipe as a guide and use your own favourite elements to make a vegan sushi bowl you’ll love. Here are a few ideas to get you going.
- Swap the edamame beans for tofu or tempeh. Make a dressing with the ginger, garlic, chilli, salt and toasted sesame oil. You might want to add an extra pinch of salt. Cut two hundred grams of firm tofu into bitesized cubes and marinade it in the dressing. If you do this as soon as you get the rice on, it will have time to soak up some of the marinade. Then shallow fry the tofu in some oil along with whatever’s left of the marinade.
- Or for a super quick and easy solution, just use cubes of smoked tofu instead and skip the marinade.
- Purple cabbage makes a wonderful addition. It’s both colourful and super nutritious. You can fry it, pickle it or just serve it raw.
- Cucumber sticks are a classic veggie sushi ingredient. These work particularly well as part of the raw element to your bowl, but you can pickle them too.
- Bean sprouts are another common ingredient that are often used in vegan sushi. They add crunch and good nutrition.
- Daikon radish is another common ingredient used in Japanese sushi. You can either cut it into sticks and add it raw, or pickle it.
- Shiitake mushrooms give a lovely umami boost. Just fry them in a little oil until lightly caramelised. Sesame oil is a good one to go for if you have it, but not toasted sesame oil.
- For some easy added crunch, use tinned bamboo shoots. They’re not particularly colourful, but great for texture and flavour.
- Fry a couple of shallots long and slow, over a low heat, to make crispy shallots. These add sweetness as well as a different type of crunchy texture.
Other Bowl Food Recipes You Might Like
- Barley bowl with spiced aubergine, chickpeas & tomatoes (vegan)
- Black bean curry bowl (vegan)
- Halloumi rice bowl with ginger carrots and caraway cabbage
- Quinoa bowl with broccoli and pumpkin three ways (vegan)
- Rice bowl with maple tofu (vegan
- Teriyaki rice bowl with tofu (vegan)
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this vegan sushi bowl or a variation of it, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And do please rate the recipe. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
If you’d like more vegan recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious and nutritious, of course.
Vegan Sushi Bowl. PIN IT.
Vegan Sushi Bowl – The Recipe
Vegan Sushi Bowl
- 125 g short grain brown rice soaked in water for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight
- 1 large carrot scrubbed, not peeled
- 1 sweet pepper red, orange or yellow
- 1 tsp sunflower oil
- 1 spring onion (scallion)
- ½ avocado
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds black if you can get them
- pickled ginger optional
- 1 tbsp vegan mayonnaise homemade is easy and delicious
- 1 tsp wasabi paste or freshly grated
- 2 tsp tamari
- 1 tbsp mirin at a push you can use sweet sherry instead
- 1 tbsp brown rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp nori seaweed flakes
- 200 g podded edamame beans fresh or frozen
- 1 tbsp sesame oil NOT toasted sesame oil
- ½ clove garlic
- 2 cm lump of root ginger
- ½ chilli deseeded
- 1 pinch sea salt fine or flakes, whichever you prefer
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- Start by getting the rice on. Rinse it well and drain. Place in a small saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Cover with fresh water to about twice its depth and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a bare simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, but leave to steam with the lid on for a further 10 minutes.125 g short grain brown rice
- Cut the carrots into matchsticks. If you like, you can pickle them whilst you get on with everything else, or just keep them as is. I pickled these in 1 tbsp of the contents from the pickled ginger pack. But I usually use my carrot pickles recipe. Set aside.1 large carrot
- Prepare the rice dressing and set aside.
- Mix the wasabi into the mayonnaise and set aside.1 tbsp vegan mayonnaise, 1 tsp wasabi
- Slice the spring onion on the diagonal and set aside.1 spring onion (scallion)
- Prepare the edamame.
- Core and deseed the pepper, then cut into slices. Fry the slices in the sunflower oil over a moderate heat for about five minutes or until just starting to caramelise. Give an occasional stir. Turn off the heat, but cover the pan to keep the peppers warm.1 sweet pepper, 1 tsp sunflower oil
- Slice the avocado.½ avocado
- When the rice is done, stir in the dressing.
- Divide the rice between two bowls, then add the carrots, peppers, beans, onion slices and avocado in piles around the bowl. Add a few slices of pickled ginger, if using. Drizzle or blog the mayonnaise strategically around the bowl then scatter with the sesame seeds.pickled ginger, 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside until needed.2 tsp tamari, 1 tbsp mirin, 1 tbsp brown rice vinegar, 1 tbsp nori seaweed flakes
- Bring 300 ml water to the boil in a medium lidded pan. Add the edamame beans and boil for three to five minutes with the lid on. The beans should be al dente, but neither hard nor mushy. Drain through a sieve and leave to air dry for a minute or two.200 g podded edamame beans
- Place the empty pan over a moderate heat and pour in the oil.1 tbsp sesame oil
- As soon as it's hot, quickly grate in the ginger, followed by the garlic and chilli. A microplane is brilliant for this. Let everything sizzle for a minute. Give it a stir if anything looks like it's catching or turning brown.½ clove garlic, 2 cm lump of root ginger, ½ chilli
- Add the beans to the pan along with the salt and give everything a good stir. Leave for a minute or two so that the beans can warm through properly and absorb the flavoursome oil. Turn off the heat and stir in the toasted sesame oil. Cover the pan so the beans remain warm.1 pinch sea salt, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
I’m sharing this recipe for vegan sushi bowls with Gluten Free Alchemist for #CookBlogShare.