Alex grew up making open-faced sushi at home. His mom’s side of the family is Japanese and despite being in the United States for quite a few generations, they enjoyed preparing the cuisine of their ancestry (who wouldn’t…Japanese food is amazing!). Sadly for me, sushi was not in my family’s cooking repertoire. I did, however, grow up feeling jealous of my friend Annie who brought seaweed rice balls to school for lunch and homemade sushi rolls to potlucks (inspired by her family’s time living in Japan). Her sushi rolls would have simple but delicious ingredients: tuna fish, cucumber, carrot sticks, avocado, sprouts, etc. I remember being so excited each time I got to try some of her homemade rolls, but for some reason I never even thought about making it at home.
About a year ago, Annie came to visit me and Alex in Los Angeles. She had just come back from teaching English in Japan and we had a great time catching up. To repay us for crashing on our couch (like she needed to pay us back – it was a treat to have her), she wanted to make us dinner. Lucky for us, she prepared sushi tacos with lots of different fillings and toppings so we could assemble our own at the table. It was wonderful and seeing it prepared as an adult, I had a realization…it’s not hard! I wish I could go back in time and tell my high school self to give it a try – I spent so many years being envious of Annie’s lunches only to realize now that I could have made it myself.
Since then, Alex and I have made Vegetarian Sushi “Tacos” on a pretty regular basis. Despite having sushi rolling mats, we like to stick to the open-faced variety – it’s less hassle, easy to do on the fly, and just as tasty. Just hold on to them tight as you dunk it in the sauce (or play it safe and pour the sauce on top) – if you get sloppy with your technique, the toppings tend to pop out!
Vegetarian Sushi “Tacos”
- Seaweed squares *
- Half cucumber, cut into spears
- 2 large carrots, cut into spears
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1/2 cube tofu, cut into thin rectangular slices
- 2 eggs, scrambled
- 2 cups white rice (+ 1sp vinegar & sprinkling of sugar to make sticky)
- Dipping sauce: Soy sauce & rice vinegar mixed.
*We buy large ones and then cut them in 4. You can find them in Vons next to the other asian cuisine ingredients. You can buy the seaweed snacks that come in the little boxes too. They will be slightly smaller and there’s more plastic packaging which is why we buy the bigger ones.
- Cook your rice in a rice cooker or on the stove, as you would normally.
- While it is cooking, heat up a frying pan with 1tbsp of oil (coconut or veg). Place your tofu in a single layer and let fry. Check the bottoms and once browned, flip them to the other side. Once browned on both sides, remove from pan and place in a bowl.
- Scrape out any tofu pieces that are left in the pan, and then heat the pan again. Pour in the scrambled eggs, swirling it around so it’s a thin layer all around. Let cook until firm, and lightly browned on the bottom side, then flip carefully with a spatula. Turn off the burner, let the bottom side cook in the hot pan for a minute and then remove from heat. Cut the egg pancake into rectangular strips. (Note: if your pancake rips and falls apart a little bit, that’s fine. Just make sure it is thin and gets firm on both sides.)
- Prepare the dipping sauce with 2 parts soy sauce & 1 part rice vinegar.
- When rice is done cooking, stir in 1 tbsp rice vinegar and sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar. Use a piece of paper or an oven mitt to fan the rice while you stir it so it cools slightly and the vinegar/sugar mixture makes it sticky.
- Cut your seaweed squares and serve all toppings in the dinner zone – dinner table, kitchen counter, floor in front of TV (no judgement here!)
- Assemble your tacos as you eat them, switching up the toppings in each one savoring each bite! I recommend spreading the rice in a thin layer and then layering on the veggies & protein. Top with sriracha, pour a little sauce on top (or try to dip it…just be careful not to lose your toppings!) and enjoy!