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Tomato Tuna Nigiri Sushi Vegan Sushi

These tomato "tuna" nigiri are a little bit of magic to your eyes and taste buds. They are vibrant, red, and curvy - just like tuna; and they taste fleshy, tender, juicy, and savory - again just like tuna! Except that they're made out of plants which our bodies are designed to consume and not at the cost of our ocean ecosystem.

If we can make "salmon" out of tofu (see my tofu salmon bowl recipe), and lox out of carrots, it's only logical that we make some "tuna" out of tomatoes right? ;) Tomatoes naturally have a curve that resembles the shape of tuna pieces, and their vibrant red color and meaty, fleshy texture also come close to the fatty tuna. With just a simple marinade we can turn this garden vegetable into an ocean flavor dish!

Before we let the tomatoes go through the magical transformation in the marinade, there is one thing we need to do - peel the tomatoes. Tomatoes have very thin, film-like skins and they can be very hard to peel off when they're raw. But don't worry, we can use heat and coldness to do a expand then contract trick to get the skin off easily.

Quickly blanch the tomatoes in boiling water first and both the skin and flesh would ofc expand in the heat, but at different rates; then we immediately run the tomatoes under cold water which would make flesh and skin contract, but again at different rates. By doing so the skin and flesh will separate from each other, making it super easy to peel!

Also, for nigiri sushi, which is as minimalistic as a dish can be, every single one of the very few elements has to be perfect, meaning we need to make sure the sushi rice is made perfectly as well as the tomato "tuna". Please note that since we will be adding vinegar to season the rice, the rice will be made a bit firmer than normal, read the details below.

Watch the video below and see the magic happens! And please tag me on my Instagram and Tiktok if you give these a try!


3 ripe tomatoes
Nori sheet cut into strips
White sesame seeds for garnish
Wasabi and tamari or soy sauce for serving
Ice water bath for the tomatoes

For the marinade -
2 tablespoon flaxseed or olive oil
1 tablespoon caper brine
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon white miso paste
2 tablespoon tamari/soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 nori sheet, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon fresh dill leaves4 beetroot slice
1 cup warm water

For the sushi rice -
2 rice cooker cups white short grain rice, aka sushi rice (*1 1/2 cup regular US cups)
1 inch by 2 inch piece of kombu
1 1/2 cup water
4 tablespoon sushi vinegar


- Slice a small cross at the stem of the tomatoes, bring a pot of water to boil, add the tomatoes and boil for 60 - 90 seconds;
- Remove from heat and immediately drop the tomatoes in ice water and let then cool down quickly, then carefully peel off the skin;
- Half the tomatoes then cut each half into three pieces, scoop out the seeds and "guts", reserve for soup or sauce recipes;
- In an airtight container, mix all the marinade ingredients, make sure the miso paste is well dissolved, and transfer the tomato pieces into the marinade;
- Refrigerate and marinate for at least 2 hours, you could also do overnight;
- Make the sushi rice, please make sure to use short grain white rice, other types of rice won't yield the correct texture for sushi;
- Wash and rinse the rice as many times as it takes for the water to run clear, this is to remove all the excess starch;
- Transfer to a rice cooker, add in the water, the water should be just below the marked line in the rice cooker for 2 rice cooker cups, because we are trying to make the rice a bit firmer than usual;
- Add in the kombu, and start cooking;
- Once the rice is cooked, immediately transfer the rice into a big wide dish, in order to let the steam escape quickly;
- Pour in the sushi vinegar while the rice is still HOT, do not wait for the rice to cool down, and using a SLICING motion (watch the video if you are not sure what exactly this means) to mix in the vinegar, the slicing motion is to avoid mushing the rice grains;
- When tomato tuna is done marinating, drain the marinade liquid, and slice some grains onto the tomato pieces for a more effective appearance;
- When you're ready to make the nigiri, wet your hands a little to prevent sticking, add about 2 tablespoons of rice into the palm of your hands, form a little "pillow" with your palm and four fingers;
- In a sauce dish, add some wasabi and soy sauce, pick up a chopstick tip of the mixture and place it on top of the rice;
- Then place a piece of tomato tuna on top, gently press down, garnish with a pinch of white sesame, and finally wrap the nigiri with a nori strip;
- Serve with wasabi and soy sauce for dipping, Enjoy!

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