• Sushi. I love it. I always used to eat the kind that has raw fish wrapped inside the nori. But since my new love affair with all things vegan, I’ve been looking for different and novel ways of eating it that don’t include meat or dairy.

    Several weeks ago, I tried a couple of sushi recipes from Veganomican: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. I loved both preparations but decided to make the tempeh sushi recipe my own. It took a few weeks of thinking about it but then it finally dawned on me. I needed to make the tempeh less noticable, less present, less obviously tempeh. And I needed more spice, more heat. I have the deepest and utmost respect for Moskowitz & Romero – in fact, their cookbooks haven’t made it back to my cookbook shelf for months. If you read through my weekly menu posted this past Monday, you know that I’m all about Moskowitz & Romero. Their cookbooks sit on my kitchen counter 24/7, I’m constantly reading through them and have already made numerous recipes from three of their cookbooks that I thankfully own. I would hope that they would take it as a supreme compliment that I decided to riff off their original recipes.

    What are the changes I made? I wanted the tempeh mixture to be much more finely chopped, almost finely grated. I added carrot and scallion and garlic and fresh ginger to the tempeh before mixing it in the food processor and before steaming it.I added cayenne and agave syrup and wheat free tamari and sea salt to the spicy mayo. I didn’t mix the mayo with the tempeh. Instead, I spread it on top of the tempeh mixture after placing the tempeh on the nori sheet (before rolling it). And I also added extra spicy mayo to the top of each roll, after they were cut into pieces.

    I loved it and really ate way too many pieces, but it was oh so worth it! I will tell you that the only tweak I’ll make for the next time will be to add even more heat to the mayo. I made some ancho chili sauce which has a smokey flavor that I think would really be lovely in the mayo. If you want to try and replicate that but don’t have homemade ancho chili sauce, either add more cayenne pepper or use some of the sauce from a can of ancho chilis in adobo sauce.

    Yum. Can’t wait to make it again!

    UPDATE: 2/18/09
    I made some additional changes to the recipe which include (for the tempeh mixture) using 1 scallion (instead of 1/2 scallion), 2 tsp grated fresh ginger (instead of 1 tsp), and 1 tbsp wheat-free tamari added to the tempeh mixture after it has been steamed and cooled down.

    Gluten Free Spicy Tempeh Sushi
    Adapted by Ellen Allard from Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
    (Printable Recipe)

    For the sushi rice:
    1 cup sushi rice
    Water, according to package directions
    2 tbsp rice vinegar
    1 tsp sugar

    For the tempeh mixture:
    4 oz tempeh, cubed
    1 small carrot
    1 scallion
    1 minced small garlic clove
    2 tsp grated fresh ginger
    1 tbsp wheat-free tamari (added AFTER steaming – see instructions below)

    For the spicy mayo:
    2 tbsp. vegan mayo
    ½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
    ½ tsp. chili oil
    1/8 tsp. (or less) cayenne
    1 tsp. agave syrup
    2 tsp. wheat free tamari
    ¼ tsp sea salt

    For the sushi:
    4 sheets nori seaweed
    1 scallion, sliced lengthwise into narrow strips
    1 ripe avocado, sliced into thin strips
    1 tbsp toasted or black sesame seeds, optional

    Prepare rice according to package. You can also cook it in a rice steamer. When it is finished, spoon it onto a cookie sheet and allow to cool to room temperature. Place it in a bowl, add the rice vinegar and sugar, folding into the rice gently with a large spoon or rice paddle to mix thoroughly.

    While the rice is cooking, prepare the spicy tempeh filling as follows:

    Put the cubed tempeh, carrot, scallion, garlic, and ginger into the bowl of a food processor. Make sure you are using the S-blade. Combine until everything is uniform and grated fine.

    Pour the tempeh mixture into a steamer and steam for about 8 minutes. Then pour it out of the steamer onto a flat plate and allow it to come to room temperature. Add 1 tbsp wheat-free tamari and blend into the mixture.

    Combine the ingredients for the spicy mayo and whisk. Set aside.

    Fill a shallow cup with about 1/3 cup of water and a tbsp of rice vinegar.

    Prepare your sushi-making station by placing a cutting board in front of you. Have the cooled rice, cooled tempeh mixture, spicy mayo mixture, sliced scallion, avocado, and optional sesame seeds near you.

    Place a nori sheet on a bamboo sushi rolling mat. With wet hands, take a snowball-shaped handful of rice, about a cup’s worth and gently pat onto the bottom two-thirds or so of your nori sheet. Press the rice so that it is less than 1/3 inch thick.

    About halfway from the bottom of the nori sheet, place about 3 tablespoons of the tempeh mixture in a strip that runs across the center of the rice. Spread about two teaspoons of the spicy mayo mixture on top of the tempeh mixture. Lay the avocado and scallion above and/or below the tempeh mixture. Sprinkle with the optional sesame seeds.

    Using the mat, gently roll up from the bottom rice end of the nori sheet, keeping your grip as tight as possible, in order to make a firmly packed roll. When you’ve just about reached the seaweed-only end, dip a finger into the water and then pat the width of the nori roll before making your final turn and sealing the roll.

    Slice your roll into 1 inch inches with a sharp, serrated knife.

    Wanna try it? Get out your sushi mat and start rolling!

    I included this recipe in The W.H.O.L.E. Gang’s Friday Food Fix that features recipes that include rice.
    • Alisa – Frugal Foodie

      That really looks fantastic. Now I want sushi!

    • I Am Gluten Free

      Yes, yes, yes. Try it! Let me know if you do…..totally delish!

    • Kalinda

      These look like so much fun. The hubby really likes avocado maki, but this sounds like a nice way to spice things up a bit.

    • I Am Gluten Free


      This Spicy Tempeh Sushi is a nice alternative to other vegetarian and/or vegan sushi recipes. Yummy….I wish I had some leftover, I’d eat it right now!

    • steph

      Ooh, spiced tempeh sounds like a great addition to sushi! Definitely going to give it a go.

    • Rumela

      Wow! this spicy tempeh sushi looks delicious….easy to make, this tasty spicy tempeh sushi dish can perfectly accompany a juicy gossip at any party. I am going to make this on my anniversary. thank you for shearing your post.

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