I am super pumped on the creativity that sparked on this sushi adventure. Making sushi rolls vegan is pretty easy. Just remove the fish and leave all the other goodness in there: avocado, cucumber, mangoes, etc… And if you’re like me, you add a few unexpected ingredients like zucchini, beets and bell peppers.
And, here is where the real creativity begins. I wanted something like a spicy tuna roll. Obviously I don’t eat tuna on a vegan diet, but there’s something about the creamy and spicy flavor… I just wasn’t sure how to replicate it in a plant-based way. As I was looking through the fridge for inspiration, I noticed some chickpeas waiting there for me, and the idea was born.
I have seen chickpeas used in other meat-like vegan preparations like a “tuna sandwich” or “chicken salad”, so I knew the creamy aspect could work. So I made a vegan mayonnaise and spiked it with a bunch of sriracha (and a little maple syrup to balance out the flavors).
We (and by we, I mean Aa under my direction) mashed up the chickpeas with a bunch of the spicy mayo sauce and my own riff on a “spicy tuna” roll was born.
I rolled these bad boys without a bamboo mat. To be fair, I didn’t use a mat because I couldn’t find it in my overcrowded storage unit (which is really my childhood playhouse in the backyard that has turned into my personal rent-free, storage unit).
I wanted to do a brown rice base, so I went to my trusty Pinterest account and found the perfect brown sushi rice recipe. You take the same concept as with short-grain white sushi rice, just sub in the brown rice. It came out perfectly. And I even used brown Jasmine rice (which is a longer grain). I’ve also done sushi with quinoa, but Aa didn’t want to go down that path tonight, so we went with the (semi) traditional rice method.
For those of you that haven’t made sushi before, the hardest/most annoying part is getting the rice right. You have to cook it, then cool it. And stir it around so it doesn’t all mushy. This can take a while. We ended up watching some TV and taking turns mixing the rice!
Check it out.
So here it is, in all its glory. First a bit of rice, spread out on the nori. Then a thick line of spicy mashed chickpeas.
I like my rolls with a little crunch to balance the creamy texture of the chickpeas and the chewy texture of the rice. These carrots and cucumber pieces worked splendidly.
I was a little nervous to roll these without a bamboo mat, but it turns out that as long as you’re careful, you’re fine.
Sushi is definitely an art, and it takes some skill to get the right ratio of rice and fillings inside the nori wrapper. It was a lot of fun to experiment and see what works and what doesn’t at home.
Here’s a shot of Aa at work with some veggies. And those are purple sweet potatoes to the right. Surprisingly, sweet potato in sushi is good!
We experimented with a few different combinations. This one below (Aa’s creation) was raw beet, mango and mashed avocado. It was one of our favorites on the board.
All said and done, we created some really great at-home sushi rolls, several different spring rolls with the rest of the veggies and some sesame tofu, and of course a yummy green salad.
The “spicy tuna” roll was satisfying and delicious. It hit the spot for what we craved.
Spicy “Tuna” Chickpeas
- 1 15oz can chickpeas (drained and liquid set aside)
- Spicy Vegan Mayo (recipe below)
Drain and rinse chickpeas, reserving the bean liquid from the can. Combine chickpeas with vegan spicy mayo (recipe below). Mash together well with a fork or potato masher*. You want to keep a little bit of texture, but break up all the beans.
This recipe makes quite a bit, so if you only want one or two rolls, I would use half the can and reserve the rest of the beans for use another time. Or make it all and have some in a healthy Buddha bowl another night like we did!
*I wouldn’t recommend a food processor or blender because you want the chickpeas to have a little bit of bite left for texture.
Vegan Spicy Mayo
Adapted from NYT Cooking’s D.I.Y. Vegan Mayonnaise
For this recipe, I used an immersion blender because that’s what it called for and my mom has one. I’m sure you could do this with a food processor as well. I’ve made regular mayonnaise that way. But if you have a handheld immersion blender, I recommend it. I was so excited when it came out with the perfect consistency of regular egg-based mayo!
- 2 Tbsp liquid from a can of chickpeas (aka aquafaba)
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp oil (I used avocado oil – you can get this at Costco)
- 2-4 Tbsp sriracha (the amount is dependent on how spicy you want this sauce to be, start with less and build on that until you reach your desired level of heat)
- 1 tsp maple syrup
Measure 2 Tbsp of the bean liquid in a large glass measuring cup. Combine with vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice and dry mustard.
With an immersion blender running, very slowly drizzle in the oil in a thin stream. It should take 4 to 5 minutes to add all of the oil. Like, a really long time. I kept switching hands and drizzled VERY slowly. The mixture will emulsify and thicken – you’ll know when it’s ready.
Squirt in the sriracha and maple syrup, and adjust the flavors to taste.