Vegetarian Sushi Secrets: 101 Healthy and Delicious Recipes, written by Marisa Baggett, features a variety of sushi recipes and accompaniments using fresh vegetables, herbs, and tofu. Unique seasonal combinations include Spicy Carrot and Tomato Inari Sushi, Coconut Tempura Tofu Rolls, Honeydew Melon and Cucumber Dragon Rolls, Clear Soup with Pumpkin Dumplings, Pomegranate and Basil Rolls, Ginger Beet Rolls, Roasted Poblano and Avocado Rolls, and more. I will also be sharing her recipe for Shiitake Nigiri following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Tuttle Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Marisa Baggett grew up in Starkville, Mississippi. She opened The Chocolate Giraffe, a restaurant and catering company, at the age of 22 and was first introduced to the world of sushi while hosting a dinner party for a client. She attended the California Sushi Academy and was the school’s first African American female graduate. Marisa now lives in Memphis and teaches workshops on sushi making, caters sushi events, and works with caterers in the Memphis Jewish community to supply kosher sushi. She is also the author of Sushi Secrets: Easy Recipes for the Home Cook.
Vegetarian Sushi Secrets
For those new to sushi, Marisa does a wonderful job of providing basic information to help you get started including the types of sushi, pantry items, and equipment with photos, descriptions, and storage tips. The foundation to sushi, sushi rice, is also explained with easy instructions and step-by-step photos. Don’t want to use white rice? Marisa also has that covered with recipes for Quinoa Sushi “Rice”, Multigrain Sushi Rice, and Brown Sushi Rice. There are also plenty of sauces and condiments to accompany the sushi including a vegetarian dashi.
Chapters are divided based on the type of roll: Making Perfect Sushi Rice; Sauces & Condiments; Soups & Appetizers; Salads & Pickles; Nigiri, Gunkan-Maki & Inari; Thin Sushi Rolls; Thick Sushi Rolls; Inside-Out Rolls; Hand Rolls; and Desserts & Drinks.
Measurements are provided in US Customary and Metric. Most of the recipes include a color photo of the finished product, plus many also have step-by-step photos to demonstrate the specific rolling techniques.
This Shiitake Nigiri is a great beginner’s sushi that is packed with flavor. There are a few different steps, but none are overly difficult. Sushi rice is prepared as the base, then it is covered with lightly cooked shiitake mushrooms and attached with a strip of nori. Before serving, the rolls are finished with a garnish of Tomato Furikake seasonings, grated fresh ginger, and sliced green onions.
Nigiri is a type of sushi that is formed by hand. A bed of rice is formed as the base to hold the toppings. To eat the sushi, use your hand to pick it up, then flip upside down to eat toppings first. If you use a sauce, dip the topping-side in rather than the rice.
Marisa also mentions that you can substitute the shiitake mushrooms with a bundle of enoki or shimeji to play around with the different flavors and textures.
I also made the Spinach Nigiri, Kaleidoscope Rice Paper Rolls, Tempura Avocado Hand Rolls, and Green Tea Ice Cream.
Spinach Nigiri is another delicious roll that is perfect for beginners. Beds of rice are simply topped with steamed spinach and black sesame seeds. This one was a favorite with my daughter and Chad.
The Kaleidoscope Rice Paper Rolls were a fun Inside-Out Roll. Mine didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as Marisa’s since I had little helpers, but they were still quite delicious. The outside layer of the sushi rice is dyed pink with a little grated beet and is rolled with cucumbers and mango. I love the color the grated beet naturally gives the rice and have started doing this regularly.
The Tempura Avocado Hand Rolls were another favorite of mine. Sushi rice is rolled in nori with tempura-fried avocado slices, daikon, ginger, lettuce, and cucumber. It is served with a tempura dipping sauce. I have tried making hand rolls a couple of times in the past, but they never came out quite right. Rolling is just not a skill I am great at yet. With Marisa’s easy to follow instructions, I finally got the rolls to look presentable.
The Green Tea Ice Cream is a delicious end to the sushi meal. Green tea powder is beaten into heavy cream, then folded with sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. I love that there are no eggs or boiling involved, so a great start for those new to making ice cream. Marisa also includes instructions for with or without an ice cream machine.
Vegetarian Sushi Secrets is a great pick for those who want to create interesting and fun sushi at home, particularly if you are a vegetarian or just looking to avoid raw seafood. I found it helpful as an introduction to sushi-making for children, especially since many of the recipes don’t involve any cooking at all. The sushi range from simple Inari and Nigiri to more complex fried offerings and decorative rolls. I also enjoyed the variety of seasonal recipes along with the extras from soups and appetizers to desserts and drinks.
A few of the ingredients may require a trip to an Asian market specializing in Japanese ingredients including Mochiko (glutinous rice flour), Umeboshi (pickled plum paste), nori, shiso (basil can be substituted), Takuan (pickled daikon), inari pouches, Japanese cucumber, shimeji and enoki mushrooms, Kampyo (simmered gourd), baby bok choy, soba, wakame seaweed, miso, edamame, and wasabi powder.
Shiitake Nigiri Recipe
Adapted from Vegetarian Sushi Secrets
Sushi Rice Dressing:
- 3/4 cup (185 ml) rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup (70 grams) unrefined sugar finely ground
- 3 teaspoons sea salt
Traditional Sushi Rice:
- 2 1/2 cups (500 grams) short-grain white rice
- 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) water, minus 3 tablespoons
- 3/4 cup (185 ml) Sushi Rice Dressing
- 1 sheet (4x7 inch, 10x18 cm) nori
- 4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon finely ground golden flax seeds
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 8 small shiitake mushrooms wiped and stems removed
- Oil for cooking
- 1 sheet (4x7 inch, 10x18 cm) nori
- 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sushi rice
- Tomato furikake to taste
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 green onion thinly sliced
To make the sushi rice dressing:
- In a small non-metal bowl, quickly whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, and sea salt until dissolved, about 2 minutes. If not using right away, cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 6 weeks. Return to room temperature before using.
To make the traditional sushi rice:
- Place the rice in a medium bowl and cover with cool water. Use your hand to gently swish the rice around in the water before draining. Repeat three times. Transfer the rice to a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cool water until the water drains clear. Allow to sit for 10 minutes to drain.
- Place the cleaned rice in a rice cooker with the water. Cook for 40 minutes without lifting the lid. Soak a wooden spoon or rice paddle in water while the rice cooks.
- Once the rice is done, transfer to a large, flat cutting board. Gently cut the rice into pie slices using the soaked wooden paddle. Pour 1/4 cup of the prepared sushi rice dressing over the rice and toss to coat. Repeat, adding another 1/4 cup, and toss. Repeat one more time to add 3/4 cup of the dressing in total. Spread the rice into a thin layer and allow to cool for 10 minutes before flipping the rice over and cooling for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a non-metal bowl or container and cover with a damp cloth until ready to use, within 4 hours.
To make the tomato furikake:
- Cut the nori sheet into very thin strips and place in a food processor. Add the sesame seeds, golden flax seeds, salt, and sugar. Pulse until mixed well.
- Preheat oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce and tomato paste. Spread the mixture over the parchment lined baking sheet in a thin layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Remove the baked tomato paste from the baking sheet and break into small pieces. Mix into the furikake mixture.
To assemble the Shiitake Nigiri:
- In a large skillet, drizzle a little oil over medium heat. Lightly score the top of each of the mushrooms with a knife.
- Once the pan is heated, add the mushrooms and cook just until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet.
- Slice the sheet of nori crosswise into 8 equal strips.
- Place a bowl of water by the work area. Dip you fingers in the water and splash some across both palms. Remove a walnut-sized piece of rice, roll into a ball, then form into a rectangular shape. Repeat to create 8 rectangular beds of rice, wetting the hands with water as needed.
- Place one mushroom, scored side up, on top of each bed of rice. Wrap a piece of nori around the mushroom and rice to secure. Arrange on serving platter, then top each piece with the Tomato Furikake, grated ginger, and green onion.
- Serve immediately.