Vegetarian sushi is sushi that is made without any meat, poultry, or fish. When many people think of sushi, they immediately think of raw fish. While many kinds of sushi are made with raw fish and even shellfish, there are also a number of varieties that are made without using any kind of seafood. Rice and seaweed, which are the staple ingredients in sushi, are already vegetarian: rice is a grain and seaweed is a sea vegetable. By choosing toppings or fillings made from vegetables or dairy products, it is possible to make vegetarian sushi.
The most common toppings and fillings in vegetarian sushi are cucumber and avocado. The crunchiness of cucumber adds a delightful texture to rice and seaweed. Avocado has a smoothness that is similar to raw fish, making it a popular substitute. Other vegetarian sushi ingredients include pickled vegetables and egg.
In the West, cucumber and avocado are the most common vegetarian ingredients. In Asia, however, egg and pickled veggies are commonly used in sushi dishes. Pickled vegetables are often used much in the same way that cucumber is used, rolled in between layers of rice and seaweed. Egg, however, is often served atop mounds of rice and wrapped with only a very thin layer of seaweed. Before being used to top sushi, the egg is sweetened, cooked, and allowed to cool.
Another common ingredient in vegetarian sushi is mushroom. The mushroom is usually marinated, cooked, and allowed to cool before being added to the sushi. Sometimes mushrooms with very rich flavors, similar to red meats, are used. Mushroom sushi is sometimes garnished with watercress or rocket.
There are some restaurants that specialize in vegetarian sushi. It is not necessary to visit one of this specialty restaurants, however, to enjoy sushi made without the use of any animal products. Almost all sushi restaurants serve cucumber sushi and avocado sushi, as well as sushi made with pickled vegetables and egg.
The condiments served with sushi are all suitable for vegetarians. The most common condiments are soy sauce, wasabi, and gari. Soy sauce is a savory, thin brown sauce that is used for dipping. Wasabi is a green horseradish that is served as a thick paste. It can be mixed in with the soy sauce or added directly to the sushi. Gari is sweetened, pickled slices of ginger root.