Vegan Sushi with Tomato "Tuna"

For this sustainable vegan sushi, we swapped out tuna for tomato that gets a savory seafood flavor from seaweed, tamari and other umami-rich ingredients. The tomato "tuna" tops sushi rice and is finished with a dollop of spicy vegan mayo for nigiri that will delight any sushi lover.

Prep Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Additional Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
24 pieces

If you're a sushi lover and a vegan—or just somebody who loves an edible optical illusion—you need to try our vegan sushi with tomato "tuna" recipe. We've swapped out tuna for strips of tomato that get a savory seafood flavor from kombu seaweed, tamari and other umami-rich ingredients. This style of sushi is called nigiri, a Japanese word that refers to the way the rice is molded by hand into an oval shape. In addition to showing you how to make the tomato "tuna," we have tips on prepping sushi rice, shaping the nigiri and adding garnishes that make this sustainable sushi look just like something you'd be served at your favorite Japanese restaurant.

Tips for Making Vegan Sushi

1. Make the Tomato "Tuna"

The key component of our vegan sushi is "tuna" made from tomato. To make it, we first core, score, blanch and peel Roma tomatoes. Then the tomatoes are sliced into quarters and seeded. The tomato slices are then simmered in a savory broth that's flavored with ginger, scallions, tamari and kombu. Kombu is the same seaweed that gives Japanese dashi broth its flavor. We call for tamari or soy sauce to season the broth—choose tamari to keep the dish gluten-free. After the tomatoes have been simmered, dry them completely before using them in the dish.

hands with wooden spoons stirring brown rice

2. Cook and Season the Rice

Instead of white rice, our recipe calls for short-grain brown rice, which supplies extra fiber and has a slightly nutty flavor that tastes great with the "tuna." The rice is seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar and salt—the traditional seasonings for sushi rice. Be sure to season the rice while it's still hot so the sugar and salt dissolve.

hands shaping rice into nigiri

3. Shape the Nigiri

To shape the nigiri, first wet your hands so the rice doesn't stick to them. Then simply use your hands to form an oval about the length and width of the "tuna" slices. Top each mound of rice with a piece of tomato, then wrap the nigiri with a piece of nori seaweed.

hands piping a Sriracha mayo sauce on top of sushi

4. Garnish and Serve

To finish the vegan sushi, top it with a bit of vegan mayo mixed with Sriracha-just dollop it on or use a small snack bag with the corner snipped off to pipe the vegan Sriracha mayo onto the nigiri for a prettier presentation. Sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions, and serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and tamari (or soy sauce) on the side, and you have a knock-out dish that'll impress any sushi lover.

Check Your Wallet: Tuna Sushi vs. Tomato Sushi

For a look at the price difference between traditional tuna sushi and tomato sushi, we turned to Dustin Harder, aka the Vegan Roadie (@theveganroadie). Harder points out that just by making your own sushi at home rather than eating out, you're likely to save money. Because our vegan sushi recipe calls for a number of ingredients to make the tomato mimic tuna, it ends up costing about the same to prep as homemade tuna sushi would.

Environmental Impact: Tuna Sushi vs. Tomato Sushi

In terms of the environmental impact, tomato sushi has a better profile than tuna sushi. That's because stocks of bluefin and bigeye tuna, the types most commonly used in sushi, are severely depleted. There also tends to be a lot of bycatch with these fish, including sea turtles and sharks.

Nutritional Comparison: Tuna Sushi vs. Tomato Sushi

Our vegan sushi saves you 22 calories per piece compared to traditional tuna sushi; however, you do lose out on 6 grams of protein. So serve your tomato sushi with a protein-rich starter or side, such as edamame.



  • 1 ½ cups water

  • ¾ cup short-grain brown rice

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons rice vinegar

  • ¾ teaspoon sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Tomato Sushi

  • 6 Roma tomatoes

  • 1 piece kombu seaweed (about 1/8 ounce)

  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari

  • 2 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more greens for serving

  • 1 (2 inch) piece ginger, coarsely sliced

  • 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha

  • 1 piece nori, halved and cut into 24 (1/2 inch) strips

  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish


  1. To prepare rice: Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer at the lowest bubble until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, to prepare tomatoes: Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Place a medium bowl of ice water next to the stove. Using a sharp paring knife, core the tomatoes and score a small X through the skin on the bottom of each.

  3. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water, in batches, and cook until the skins are slightly loosened, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to the ice water and let stand for 1 minute. Peel with a paring knife. Quarter the tomatoes lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.

  4. Return the water to a boil. Add kombu, tamari, scallions and ginger and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the tomato slices. Let marinate while the rice cooks, about 20 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the marinade and gently pat dry with paper towels.

  5. To prepare sushi rice: Spread the warm rice evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet. Whisk vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves; drizzle over the rice. Toss with 2 spatulas until cool enough to handle and slightly sticky, 5 to 10 minutes.

  6. To prepare sushi: Combine mayonnaise and Sriracha in a small bowl. With wet hands, form 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sushi rice into a oval. Top with 1 tomato slice and wrap with 1 piece of nori. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes and nori. Serve topped with the Sriracha mayo, scallion greens and sesame seeds, if desired.

    vegan sushi

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

194 Calories
6g Fat
32g Carbs
4g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 194
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 32g 11%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 2g
Added Sugars 1g 2%
Protein 4g 7%
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Vitamin A 460IU 9%
Vitamin C 7mg 8%
Folate 9mcg 2%
Sodium 218mg 9%
Calcium 25mg 2%
Iron 1mg 4%
Magnesium 7mg 2%
Potassium 199mg 4%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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