Recipes: Sushi Surprise

Recipes: Sushi Surprise

Photo from Sushi Modoki: The Japanese Art and Craft of Vegan Sushi by inna. © iina and Graphic-sha Publishing Co., Ltd, 2017, 2019. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment.

Tokyo-based chef IINA creates edible, vegan art for an adventurous, vegetable-loving palate.

Kimbap is a Korean dish that is similar to sushi, but with sesame oil replacing the vinegar commonly found in sushi. Modoki is a Japanese word that means “to mimic.” And maki is a type of sushi roll. With definitions out of the way, dive right into this beautiful, vegan kimbap modoki maki roll.

Veggie Dashi Soy Sauce

Makes 1 2/3 cup (400 ml)

1 2/3 cup (400 ml) soy sauce

2-inch (5 cm) piece dried kombu

2 dried shiitake mushrooms

Combine all the ingredients in a clean jar with a lid. Let stand for a week at room temperature. This will keep for 6 months at room temperature.

BBQ Modoki

1 ounce (30 g) seitan 3 garlic cloves, grated

2-inch (5 cm) piece of ginger, grated 1½ teaspoons Veggie Dashi Soy Sauce 1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon roasted white sesame seeds

Korean-style Carrots

1 scant cup (100 g) julienned carrot 1 teaspoon sesame oil

¼ teaspoon salt

Korean-style Mustard Greens


3 1/2 ounces (100 g) Japanese mustard spinach (komatsuna) or mustard greens

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Korean-style Nori

Sesame oil

One 8 x 7-inch (21 x 19 cm) nori sheet Roasted salt or kosher salt


3/4 cup (150 g) basic sushi rice Two 8 x 1/2-inch (20 x 1 cm) strips

Tamago Modoki (see below), about 1 ounce (30 g)

Roasted white and black sesame seeds

  1. To make the BBQ Modoki, combine all ingredients except the oil and sesame seeds in a small saucepan with a scant ½ cup (100 ml) water. Heat on low and simmer until the seitan soaks up all the liquid, then remove from heat. Add the oil and sesame seeds and mix.
  2. To make the Korean-Style Carrots, mix the carrot, oil, and salt in a small bowl. Let stand until the carrots wilt a little. (This makes enough for three rolls.)
  3. To make the Korean-Style Mustard Greens, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the greens to the pot, and boil for about 15 seconds. Then plunge into a bowl of cold water. Let cool, then pat dry. Cut to match the width of the nori sheet. Season with the oil and salt to taste. (This makes enough for three rolls.)

Tamago Modoki: Japanese Omelet

Makes 10 pieces

One 16-ounce (454 g) package firm tofu

1/2 cup (60 g) peeled, diced kabocha squash 1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon potato starch, 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon Veggie Dashi Soy Sauce

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

  1. Freeze 11 ounces (300 g) of the tofu overnight. Refrigerate the remaining 5 ounces (150 g) in a strainer over a bowl overnight to remove moisture.
  2. Thaw the frozen tofu until soft. Remove any moisture by squeezing with both hands.
  3. Steam the squash until tender.
  4. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  5. Line a 9 x 5-inch (22 x 15 cm) baking pan with parchment paper and pour in the mixture. Smooth the surface.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cut into 10 equal pieces.

TIPS: If you don’t have cornstarch on hand, you can increase the amount of potato starch instead. If you wish to make your omelet modoki sweeter, just add brown sugar or raw cane sugar to the mixture. If you don’t have a pastry brush, use the back of a spoon to gently add sesame oil to the nori.

Making Futomaki (Thick Sushi Rolls)

Be careful not to use too much rice or filling. When using multiple fillings, assemble them in layers. The beautiful layers will be visible when the roll is cut into pieces.

  1. Prepare vinegar water (equal parts water and rice vinegar) in a small bowl.
  2. Place a sushi mat flat-side-up on a flat working surface. Place a sheet of nori coarse-side-up on top, aligning the nori and the mat.
  3. Moisten your hands well with vinegar water. Spread 3/4 cup (150 g) sushi rice on the nori, leaving a 3⁄8-inch (1 cm) margin on the near side and a 5⁄8-inch (1.5 cm) margin on the far side.
  4. Arrange the fillings across the sushi rice slightly below the middle. Add multiple fillings in layers.
  5. Pick up the near side of the mat and roll it over the filling and away from you. With your left hand, pull up on the far side of the mat while holding the rolled portion of the mat to tighten the roll and continue rolling.
  6. Set the roll aside for a couple of minutes before cutting to the desired size (this will make it easier to slice).

TIP: Wipe off the blade of your knife with a damp kitchen towel. This will prevent grains of rice from sticking to the blade as you cut the roll.

Read more recipes for fillings and a basic sushi rice recipe.

Recipes from Sushi Modoki: The Japanese Art and Craft of Vegan Sushi by inna. © iina and Graphic-sha Publishing Co., Ltd, 2017, 2019. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment.

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