Vegetarian Sushi


My older sister deserves all of the credit for this post. She had the idea of making sushi, the wherewithal to tackle the local Chinese supermarket alone, and the knowledge to guide the process!

This was my first time making sushi, and I was surprised at how easy it was. It takes time, but it’s pleasant, especially if you’re working (and chatting) with someone.

The first thing you need to know is that real sushi rice makes a great deal of difference. If you have an Asian market nearby, I recommend visiting to get the correct rice. Black sesame seeds, seaweed wraps (nori), and many of the other ingredients will probably be cheaper at this market, too.

The directions that follow give details on how to put together your rolls. Don’t be intimidated; your third roll will probably be neater than the first one, but they will taste equally delicious.

We made sushi twice while my sister visited because we had leftover ingredients. Over the course of the weekend, here’s what I learned about the process:

  • Rinse the dry rice for a few seconds. Sushi rice is extremely starchy, and if you don’t rinse it, the pot will bubble over repeatedly during cooking. Don’t rinse too thoroughly, though, or you’ll lose the sticky goodness.
  • Slice your fillings into long strips. This way they won’t fall out when you’re cutting the rolls into pieces.
  • Freshly grated ginger is better than pickled in my book, and it’s also less acidic. I grated the ginger directly into the soy sauce.
  • Wet fingers are the key to sculpting the rice beds and gluing the nori together. I re-wet my fingers every few seconds.
  • Cilantro and black sesame seeds add phenomenal flavor. Go crazy with your other filling choices: Orange bell peppers are acidic, and avocado is high in fat, but you use such small portions inside sushi rolls. (Don’t overfill the rolls, or they will burst!)

I recommend bringing this to a party; everyone will be impressed with your work! Or, if eating at home, treat yourself to a restaurant-quality meal by serving the sushi with sides of roasted baby bok choy and miso soup.



  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 sheets nori
  • black sesame seeds
  • 1/3 of a cucumber
  • 1/2 of an orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 of an avocado
  • handful of cilantro
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • low-sodium soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)


  1. Put the rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse lightly. Drain and shake off excess water.
  2. Mix rice and water in a nonstick pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir & recover, lower heat, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  3. When rice is tender and water has been absorbed, remove the pot from heat. Mix in rice vinegar and but the rice in the fridge to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Chop the cucumber, bell pepper, and avocado into long, thin strips. Wash the cilantro, dry well, and remove the leaves from the stems.
  5. Clear space on the counter. Set out a large cutting board, the vegetables, the sesame seeds, a small bowl of warm water, the rice, and the nori.
  6. Lay a sheet of nori flat on the cutting board. Put a few spoonfuls of rice on the nori. Wet your fingertips and use them to flatten the rice, creating a thin layer that covers almost the entire sheet. Leave a small strip free at the top and bottom of the sheet—but push the rice all the way to the left- and right-hand edges.
  7. Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds. Lay pieces of pepper, avocado, and cucumber over the rice, and top them liberally with cilantro leaves. IMG_4451
  8. Wet your fingers and grab the bottom corners of the nori. Start to roll it up, pulling the fillings toward you to ensure that they’re completely surrounded in rice. Roll as tightly as you can. IMG_4452
  9. When you have a tight roll, wet your fingers and use the water to glue down the edges of the nori.
  10. Use a sharp, nonserrated, wet knife to cut the roll into 6 to 8 pieces.
  11. Repeat with the other sheets of nori. You should have more than enough rice to make 4 rolls.
  12. Pour soy sauce into small bowls and sprinkle with grated ginger. Serve rolls with the soy sauce for dipping.

Makes 4 rolls.


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