Vegetarian sushi 101

Sushi is one of the most beloved traditional dishes in Japan and has a large fan base in the U.S. as well.

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May 30, 2014 3 min read


Sushi is one of the most beloved dishes in Japan and has a large fan base in the U.S. as well. While some indulge in raw salmon, tuna, eel and urchin, meat-free options are becoming just as popular. You might have this preconceived notion that sushi must have fish or some kind of meat in it in order to be called sushi, but sushi in Japanese actually means vinegared rice. Whether you are a part of an Austin culinary arts program or a newcomer to Japanese cuisine, you should make vegan sushi a part of your food vocabulary.

Why should I try vegetarian sushi?
Vegan sushi rolls are a great alternative for people who have rigid diet restrictions but still want the full flavor of Japanese cuisine. They are ideal for people who follow a vegetarian diet part time and want to go full vegetarian. Vegan sushi is also an enjoyable way to transition to more vegetarian dishes from different cultures.

If you are new to different types of Japanese food, it should be noted that there is a difference between sushi and sashimi, as one can often be mistaken for the other. Sushi is cut or shaped into small bite-sized pieces, wrapped in seaweed and can include other ingredients and toppings. Sashimi is thinly sliced meat, usually raw fish.

Types of vegetarian sushi
Kappa maki – Also known as the cucumber roll, kappa maki is named after a Japanese water spirit. It is a staple in Japanese restaurants all over the world and has a fresh, light taste.

Tempura – This type of sushi is dipped in batter and then deep fried in traditional Tempura fashion. Vegetarian tempura sushi rolls often include carrots, eggplant, sweet potatoes and zucchini.

Carrots, daikon radish and cucumber – This crunchy vegetarian alternative is prepared with the vegetables thinly sliced and wrapped in the center of a traditional sushi roll. Daikon, a white root native to many regions in Asia, adds a little bit of spice to the roll that complements the sweetness of the carrots and crisp freshness of the cucumber.

Nigiri – This roll is not as common as other vegetarian options, but it is still a tasty treat. Nigiri means pressed or squeezed, thus vegetarian nigiri includes vegetables pressed into small, rectangular mounds of sticky rice. The combination is held together by a thin band of dried seaweed.

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