These veggie-packed and lightly spiced tofu sushi burritos enjoy hiking, camping, plane rides, road trips, warm days, not-sad-desk and back-to-school lunches. No chopsticks required.
I fell hard for sushi burritos this spring while in Washington D.C. As Jay and I rode a shuttle to the climate march, the air conditioned bus a welcome respite from the 90 degree humid heat outside, I spied some happy looking people shoving giant sushi rolls into their maws on the sidewalk. When I get a sushi craving, nothing else will do, so I noted the name of the cafe and, when we were done marching for the worthy cause of global warming awareness, we marched over to Buredo for an equally urgent cause (or so it felt in that moment of sushi hanger and melting heat) and ordered two rolls and icy cans of of grapefruit Spindrift.
The sushi burritos were packed with cool, crisp vegetables. Our favorite included shredded beets tossed with chili, accompanied by avocado, daikon, and lettuce. The other veggie version included tofu, roasted peppers, and a sweet and sour sauce of sorts. They were cold, crisp, and full of salty-tangy-sweet sushi rice – the perfect antidote to the sweltering weather. We loved them so much, we went right back for a repeat performance the following day.
Back in SF, I searched for sushi burritos, but the only vegetarian version I found was stuffed with oily eggplant and fried things. Unlike the bright, clean feel of Buredo’s rolls, these left me feeling heavy and gross. Clearly I’d have to take matters into my own sushi-hungry hands.
Phoebe was in town the week I decided to tackle sushi burritos. After a spectacular book event (more on her fabulous book The Wellness Project soon!) with Jessica, Amanda, and Molly, she gamely camped out on my sofa typing away at her laptop while I sliced, chopped, pickled, and rolled in the kitchen. I seemed to have misplaced my bamboo sushi roller at some point, but I found that Bee’s Wrap – a beeswax-coated muslin substitute for plastic wrap – makes a perfect stand-in. We tucked into these rolls, and my sushi burrito craving was satisfied.
I now make tofu sushi burritos on the regular when Jay and I are in need of an easy lunch to bring hiking, along with little packets of tamari, a tube of wasabi, and a can of microbrew. There are few things like sitting in the shade after a day hike devouring a fatty tofu sushi burrito to make you feel like a million bucks. They may take a bit of prep time – slicing veggies, making quick pickles out of carrots, cooking and seasoning the rice, and rolling the burritos – but they truly make the best on-the-go lunch when tucked into a small cooler with an ice pack or two to keep them fresh. They keep brilliantly, refrigerated airtight, for 24 hours, and they’re still perfectly edible after 2 or even 3 days in the fridge; the rice just gets a bit hard at that point.
Inspiration for the spicy tofu filling comes from my favorite veggie sushi in SF – the spicy tofuna roll at Shizen. Shredded tofu mixed with mayo and hot sauce takes on a spicy tuna vibe, without the fishiness. I always used to order spicy tuna rolls when I was younger, but that was before I learned that older fish usually goes into these, the sauce masking any off flavors. That put me right off spicy tuna, as did learning that big fish contain high levels of mercury. Shredded tofu has a similar consistency to canned tuna, a bit of mayo adds back the missing fat and moisture, and sriracha and grated ginger add kick, no fishies necessary.
Paired with a load of vegetables, chewy sushi rice, and crisp sheets of nori, these rolls just might make a sushi activist out of you, too. A word to the wise: it’s easier to drizzle tamari (mixed with wasabi if you like) over the burrito as you eat rather than try to dip the burrito in a small bowl of tamari. If serving these to polite company, feel free to slice them into rounds like futo maki and serve as per sushi usual with small dipping bowls and chopsticks. And if you crave the sushi without the rolling, turn the fillings into sushi bowls by layering everything but the nori in bowls, and serve with crisp nori snacks on the side.
*Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this, I’d love to see! Tag me on Instagram @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- splash hot water
- ¼ cup (60 ml) rice vinegar
- 2 medium carrots, scrubbed, cut into long matchsticks
- 1 ½ cups (350 g) white, short-grain sushi rice
- 2 cups (475 ml) water, plus water for rinsing the rice
- 1 ½ tablespoons (15 g) sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) rice vinegar
- 12 ounces (340 g) firm or extra-firm tofu, grated on the large holes of a box grater (1 cup lightly packed)
- ¼ cup (60 ml) good mayonnaise (vegan if you like)
- 1 ½ tablespoons (20 ml) sriracha (more or less, to your taste)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger root
- 4-5 nori sheets
- 2 small Persian cucumbers, seeded and sliced into long matchsticks
- ~2 cups pea sprouts or other mild sprouts, rinsed and dried
- handful sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- 4 scallions, green parts only, rinsed well and slivered
- 1 cup coarsely grated watermelon radish or daikon radish (from 1-2 watermelon radishes or 1 daikon, peeled if skin is tough)
- 1 large firm-ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, sliced lengthwise
- wasabi and tamari, for serving
- in a medium bowl, combine the sugar and salt with a splash of boiling water, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the rice vinegar and carrot matchsticks. Set aside to marinate, tossing occasionally, while you prepare the remaining ingredients, about 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate up to 1 week.
- Place the rice in a bowl, cover with cool water, and swish it around to release the starches. Carefully pour off the water, then repeat 2-3 more times. Drain well. Place the rice in a small saucepan and add the 2 cups water, the sugar, and the salt. Place the pot over a medium flame and bring to a simmer. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the rice steam until the water is absorbed, 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand 10 minutes. Test the rice – if it is too firm, sprinkle in a few tablespoons more water and repeat the steaming/standing process until the rice is tender, but still chewy. Fluff the rice with a fork, sprinkle the vinegar over the rice, and gently toss with a spoon to incorporate the vinegar. (Try to handle the rice minimally and gently to prevent if from becoming mushy.) Let the rice cool to warm or room temperature, 30-60 minutes; you can turn it out into a large bowl to help it cool more quickly.
- In a large bowl, stir together the grated tofu, mayonnaise, sriracha, and ginger. Taste to see that it’s seasoned to your liking. (This can be made a couple of days ahead and refrigerated airtight if you like.)
- Have the remaining ingredients prepared and standing by.
- Place a bamboo sushi rolling mat (or piece of Bee’s Wrap) on your work surface and top with a nori sheet, shiny side down. Dip your fingers in a bowl of cool water to prevent sticking, and apply a layer of rice to the nori, leaving about 1 inch of space on top, going right to the edge on the other 3 sides. As you work, continue to dip your fingers in the water to prevent sticking. The goal is to get a thin but even layer of rice, and to not mash up the rice as you work.
- Top the rice with about one-fourth or one-fifth of each of the following, placed on the lower half of the nori sheet:
- Grasp the mat or Bee’s Wrap and the bottom of the roll with your thumbs and forefingers and fold the bottom of the roll up over the fillings in a fluid, decisive motion, holding the fillings in place with your remaining fingers. Change your grip so that you’re holding the roll in place with your palms and continue to fold the roll over itself so that the top edge of the mat is tucked inside the roll, and give it a firm squeeze to make sure it’s rolled tightly. Remove the edge of the mat from the center of the roll leaving it draped over the top, moisten the strip of bare nori with a bit of water, and roll the burrito closed with the seam down, giving it a final squeeze. Remove the burrito from the mat and continue with the remaining ingredients until you’ve used them all up.
- To serve, cut the burritos in half crosswise and serve with tamari and wasabi to dab and drizzle over the burritos. The burritos keep well, refrigerated airtight, for up to 3 days, but they’re best within 24 hours of assembly when the rice is soft.