Vegetarian Sushi

Kappamaki or Cucumber Maki roll
Kanpyomaki (Seasoned Dried Gourd Strips)
Chirashizushi (Scattered Sushi)

There are several examples of vegetarian sushi in the pictures above to start off showing you just a small variety of choices that you have. Whether you are on this page to learn the different types available so you can order it at a sushi restaurant... or you are wanting to try to make them at home.

We will try to cover both sides.

What is Your Definition of Vegetarian?

But first, let's talk about what type of vegetarian you consider yourself to be. I know it can range from pure "Vegan" (no meat (of any kind), eggs or dairy) all the way to allowing dairy, eggs and only fish.

You see, I was a vegetarian for a while in my life. A "Vegan" to be exact. I went all the way. This was mainly due to medical reasons based on my doctor's recommendation.

Since then, without getting into my whole life history, I have gone back to a pretty standard "normal" diet.

But, during that period of time when I was a vegetarian, my sushi was strictly limited to what passed the "muster". I'm trying to clarify this so that hopefully all forms of vegetarians will be able to find what they need on here or will be able to "eliminate" an item from a type of sushi in order to make it legal for your type of vegetarian diet.

For instance. Look at both pictures above on the right hand side. The one on top is called "Futomaki". This variation contains sweet egg called "tamago". If you decide that it looks like something you want to order or make at home, don't let the egg stop you! Tell the sushi chef to leave the egg out or leave it out of the recipe. 

Same with the "Chirashizushi" in the bowl below it. Leave out the egg if you can't eat it. It really is as simple as that. 

I don't want you to miss out on a fantastic vegetarian sushi roll because of 1 ingredient. It will still be delicious!

With all of that said, let's start with the vegetarian sushi in a maki roll. 

Hosomaki and Futomaki...
Your Vegetarian Sushi Rolls

Hosomaki Rolls

Tekkamaki (Tuna Maki Roll)
Kappamaki (Cucumber Maki Roll)
Kanpyomaki (Seasoned Dried Gourd Strips)

A hosomaki roll is basically the generic name for a thin sushi roll with just 1 ingredient in it and is about 1" in diameter.

Keep in mind that you can use the following recipe and substitute ANY vegetable item that you like in it... avocado, carrots, asparagus, etc., It is totally up to you...

Some popular types of vegetarian sushi Hosomaki rolls (from left to right above) are:

  • Tekkamaki - This one is for the "Pescatarians" in the audience. It  is made with Tuna. Of course if you'd like you can substitute any fish you like, like Salmon.
  • Kappamaki - this roll is made with Japanese or english cucumber and is traditionally used to cleanse the pallet between the different kinds of seafood or fish.
  • Kanpyomaki - Marinated dried gourd strips (kanpyo) is the main ingredient in this one.
  • Takuan Hosomaki - This roll is made with takuan (pickled daikon). 

Order any of those at your favorite sushi bar or keep reading and learn how to make this one at home.

Vegetarian Sushi Recipe - Hosomaki Roll


Sushi Rice (this will yield 4 cups of rice and this recipe 6 rolls)

(Try to buy a high quality Japanese short grain white rice if you can)

Sushi Nori

Ingredient for filling sliced into approximately 3/8" square matchsticks or slivers like:

  1. Tuna
  2. Japanese or hot house cucumber
  3. Takuan (pickled daikon radish
  4. Salmon 
  5. Seasoned kampyo gourd strips

Condiment like imitation wasabi, real wasabi or Japanese mayonaisse


Bamboo Sushi Mat


Measuring 8 inch side of nori to cut it in half to 4 inches
4 x 7 inch nori sheets

1. This vegetarian sushi recipe for a Hosomaki roll is made by cutting 8 x 7 inch sheet of Nori in half on the 8 inch side. You will end up with two 4 x 7 inch sheets. See pictures above. You can also fold over and break the nori sheet in half. 

*** A Helpful Tip ***

The slim vegetarian sushi hosomaki roll can sometimes be challenging for beginning sushi rollers to roll without rice squeezing out from the seam. To make it easier, cut your nori at 5x7 instead of 4x7 and leave a full 1" at the far edge when you spread out your rice.

This trick will help you make a perfect vegetarian sushi hosomaki roll everytime!

4x7 inch sheet on sushi mat or makisu

2. Lay the nori sheet on a bamboo sushi mat. Make sure the shiny side is down and that the 7 inch side closest to you. Leave about 3 or 4 slats visible on the side nearest to you. See picture above.

Measuring 1/2 cup of rice for hosomaki roll
1/2 cup of rice on nori for hosomaki roll

3. Consistency is key here and one of the best ways to do that is to measure your rice every time. Take a 1/2 cup measure and wet the inside with vinegared water  (1/4 cup rice vinegar + 1 cup water). Shake out any excess. This will help keep the rice from sticking. Measure 1/2 cup of rice and put it on your nori sheet. Refer to the pictures above.

Dipping fingers in vinegared water
Tapping fingers on towel to remove excess vinegared water

4. Next, dip your fingers in the vinegared water and tap your fingers on a folded damp rung-out towel to remove any excess water.

1/2 cup of rice spread on nori with wasabi

5. Spread the rice over the nori sheet. Come to the edge on the right, left and the side closest to you but leave about a 1/2" strip along the 7 inch side farthest away from you (leave a 1" strip if you cut your nori 5x7). The picture above is taken from the side farthest away from you so that you can see the strip of nori used to seal the roll. 

The rice will be very sticky, so moisten your fingers often. And also, it helps to push the rice from the center to the edges quickly and evenly. 

If you continually have issues with the roll "sealing" later, you can swipe a small amount of vinegared water along the exposed nori strip here at this time.

6. If using wasabi or a condiment of some sort, spread it across the center of the rice. See pictures above.

Adding tuna to hosomaki roll
Placing Kanypo seasoned gourd strips across the center of the rice...

7. Spread a row of a single ingredient like cucumber, takuan, kanpyo gourd strips, salmon, tuna, or crab (whatever is "legal" for your vegetarian sushi diet :-) across the center of the rice.

In the picture above on the left we have tuna while on the right we have kanpyo seasoned gourd strips. 

1st step in rolling hosomaki roll
Stop when the mat touches down on the far edge of the rice

8. Now, lift the edge of the mat that is closest to you (see picture above on the left) with both hands by putting your thumbs under the mat and while lifting up, use your fingers to hold the fillings in place.

9. Keep rolling while at the same time pressing the fillings into the rice. Stop when the mat touches straight down on the far edge of the rice. Make sure the exposed nori is still visible.

Tighten the hosomaki roll in the center
And then tighten the hosomaki roll on the left and then the right side also...

10. Now we need to tighten the roll. Do this by pulling the mat covered part of the roll with your left hand while at the same time tugging 3 times on the free edge of the mat with your right hand; once in the center, once on the left and once on the right.

The pictures above showing tightening in the center and left side of the roll. Do this on the right side also. You should see more exposed nori now because you are "tightening" the roll.

Finished hosomaki roll
Finished hosomaki roll

11. Continue rolling until the exposed part of the nori has been rolled under. Hold it still for a little bit to allow the roll to seal. 

Slice the hosomaki roll in the exact center

12. Wet your sushi knife with vinegared water so that it won't stick to your roll when slicing.

Finished hosomaki roll on sushi plate
Kanpyomaki (Seasoned Gourd Strips)

13. Slice into 6 or 8 pieces and serve. 

Vegetarian Sushi Recipe - Futomaki roll


 If you want to make this roll, I'm going to send you to our vegetarian sushi futomaki roll page. It takes some preparation to make this roll with all of the different ingredients that goes into it and it's all already there.

Click on this link to make this roll and I'll meet you there :-)

Vegetarian Sushi Recipe - Chirashizushi

Chirashizushi ("scattered sushi")

Again, if you want to make chirashizushi, I'm going to send you to our vegetarian sushi chirashizushi page. 

Click on this link to make my 80 year old Japanese mother's chirashi sushi.

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David Guthrie, EzineArticles Basic Author