Homemade Vegetable “Sushi” Bowl

I used to love sushi. From the moment I had my first bite, it was instantly one of my favorite foods. And when I became a vegetarian seven years ago, I found the switch relatively easy because I didn’t miss 99.9% of meat and fish dishes. But I missed sushi very, very much.

This homemade vegan sushi bowl is my answer to your deepest sushi craving. It highlights the key elements of sushi: perfectly prepared rice, fresh vegetables, and savory protein. And since it’s in bowl form, there’s no stress about having to construct them into perfectly sliced rolls or buying special equipment – you can just throw it on a plate, drizzle some soy sauce on top, and enjoy!

Like real sushi, this dish requires detailed attention to each individual ingredient, but that’s what makes the bowl really shine. So yes, it does take a little bit of time to prepare the individual ingredients but it’s so worth it. And once you’ve prepped the components, you can get 4 bowls out of the recipe, so this is a great one for that weekend meal prep! Unless you’re like me, and you suddenly realized that you’ve downed an entire package of tofu by yourself…consider yourself warned.

The hardest part is the timing, and that’s where I come in. I’ve tested the recipe out to maximize efficiency and get the most flavor in the least amount of time. I absolutely could not have achieved this rice without these directions from Just One Cookbook – well done! While the recipe directions go over the steps for each component individually, the description that follows suggests how to best order them. Read both before starting!

The protein in this dish is a faux “spam” tofu (see here for details), and you want to start here because you need to both press and marinate it. Press the tofu for 30 minutes and while you’re waiting, prepare the marinade. Slice the tofu and let sit in the marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes. You can also let it sit during the day or overnight.

When you’re ready to cook everything else, preheat the oven and get the rice started. Wash the rice (see directions for the step-by-step) and soak for 30 minutes.

Cook the tofu in the oven while the rice is soaking. Once 30 minutes have passed, start cooking your rice. Prepare the sushi vinegar and set aside.

Chop the carrots and steam for 7 minutes.

Lay the cooked rice in a flat pan (I used the bottom section of my steamer). Drizzle the sushi vinegar on top. Make diagonal cuts with the rice paddle as pictured and carefully flip the sections to ensure that the vinegar is mixed into the rice without the rice losing its texture.

Seed and chop the cucumbers and cut the nori strips.

Lastly, chop the avocado. Sprinkle liberally with furikake and drizzle soy sauce on top. Eat it hot or cold – either way, it’s delicious! Marvel as your masterpiece comes together.

Homemade Vegetable “Sushi” Bowl

Yields 4 bowls. 45 minutes active + 1 hour prep


“Spam” tofu:

  • 14 oz. extra firm or firm tofu
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons mirin or rice vinegar
  • ½ inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and chopped

Sushi Rice

  • 2 cups uncooked sushi rice
  • Water (see instructions)
  • 1/4 cup mirin or rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Sushi Bowl

  • 4 cups cooked sushi rice
  • One batch “Spam” tofu
  • 2 cups cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks, and steamed
  • 2 avocados
  • Furikake (vegan), to taste
  • 1/2 sheet of nori, cut into strips
  • Pickled ginger (optional)
  • Soy sauce, to taste


  • Tofu press or heavy books
  • Saucepan
  • Fine strainer
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Rice cooker
  • Strainer
  • Wide flat bowl or pan
  • Rice paddle
  • Steamer


Read post for tips on how to order the steps for optimal efficiency.

Make the tofu Spam.

  1. Remove excess water from the tofu by draining the package, gently squeezing out the water, and patting dry with a paper towel. Press the tofu for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare marinade by mixing the vegetable broth, soy sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika, mirin, ginger, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Let the marinade cool slightly and run through a fine strainer to remove the solids. *I used a nut milk bag, but any strainer with holes small enough to filter the garlic and ginger will do.
  4. Slice the tofu block in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/4″ thick slices.
  5. Place the tofu in a large bowl and cover with the marinade. Cover and let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes and maximum of 8 hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Carefully lay the marinated tofu slabs on your baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Preserve your leftover marinade – don’t throw it out! Remove from oven, flip over, and apply excess marinade. Bake for an additional 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Make the sushi rice.

  1. Put rice in the rice cooker/large bowl. Rinse the rice in water and drain immediately. Repeat a second time.
  2. Rinse the rice again, this time moving your hands in a circular motion, and drain. Repeat at least 3 times.
  3. Fill bowl with enough water to cover the rice and soak for 30 minutes.
  4. Transfer rice to a strainer/sieve to remove water.
  5. Put rice in rice cooker and fill with cold water to the 2 cup line and cook.
  6. Make the sushi vinegar. Mix mirin/rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in microwave-safe dish. Heat mixture for 1 minute in microwave. Remove from microwave and stir with whisk until sugar is completely dissolved. If sugar is not fully dissolved, repeat the process in 30 second intervals until it has dissolved completely. Set aside.
  7. When the rice is cooked, dampen a wide bowl/pan. Spread hot rice over pan in a thin layer. Pour the sushi vinegar over the rice.
  8. Using a rice paddle, “slice” the rice at a 45 degree angle and gently flip the sections over. Avoid mixing the rice as it will lose texture. Repeat 2-3 times.

Make sushi bowl.

  1. Prep the spam tofu and rice (above) and chop the other ingredients.
  2. Cook carrots in a steamer for 7 minutes. They should be soft and sweet but not overly mushy.
  3. Seed cucumbers by chopping in half lengthwise and scooping the seeds out with a spoon.
  4. Create each bowl by adding 1 cup sushi rice, furikake, 1/2 cup cucumbers, 1/2 cup carrots, 3 or 4 ounces spam tofu, 1/2 avocado, nori strips, and pickled ginger (optional). Serve with tofu and rice warm or cold. Drizzle soy sauce on top.

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