The Flaming Vegan

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Vegan Sushi: Maki, Nigiri, Inari, Oh My!
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Vegan Sushi: Maki, Nigiri, Inari, Oh My!

When you hear the word ‘sushi,’ what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking of raw fish wrapped in rice and seaweed. But that isn’t entirely accurate. In Japanese, sushi translates to ‘vinegared rice,’ which means that vegan sushi is not, as many sushi fans would have us believe, a complete abomination.

In fact, most traditional Japanese restaurants have many vegan options. If you know the terminology, sushi can become a healthy and delicious part of your vegan diet!

Sushi rolls, otherwise known as maki sushi, are the most common type of vegan sushi. Restaurants offer a wide variety of vegetables in maki, such as oshinko (pickled daikon), kappa (cucumber), kampyo (dried gourd), and more traditional veggies such as mushrooms, carrots, asparagus and avocado.

Maki rolls are wrapped in nori, a type of seaweed that carries significant health benefits, such as high levels of Vitamins A, B, C and E and iron, among others. It is low on calories but contains both protein and fiber. But if seaweed isn’t your thing, you may be able to find vegan sushi wrapped in a soy sheet or a similar vegetable-based substitute.

Nigiri sushi is similar to maki, but with a few significant differences. Nigiri is a vegetable pressed into the center of a rectangular ball of rice. The veggies used include many of those listed above, such as avocado and mushrooms, and including broccoli, cauliflower and roasted red peppers. Often, a small strip of nori holds the sushi together.

One of my favorite kinds of vegan sushi is inarizushi, or inari for short. It is relatively simple – sushi rice stuffed into a pouch made of a thin skin of fried tofu. The tofu is made sweet using soy sauce, vinegar and mirin, a type of rice wine that is used as a condiment in Japan. Mirin makes the tofu sweet, and turns the simple combination of rice and tofu into a delicious treat.

What is your favorite kind of vegan sushi? Aside from inari, I love avocado rolls for their creaminess and kappa (cucumber) rolls for their crispness. Vegan sushi: the best of both worlds!


*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.




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  1. Mary Finelli
    There are many marvelous vegan sushi options, and there are terrific vegan versions of virtually every type of seafood imaginable: They're better for us, for the other animals, and for the environment. They're also delicious!


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