SOUPS & APPETIZERS - Vegetarian Sushi Secrets: 101 Healthy and Delicious Recipes - Marisa Baggett

Vegetarian Sushi Secrets: 101 Healthy and Delicious Recipes - Marisa Baggett (2016)


For sushi lovers, it may be easy to imagine a meal made entirely of neatly enclosed bites of tangy rice studded with vegetable delights. However, all great sushi experiences begin with something to excite the taste buds. Soups and appetizers should be considered in your overall sushi meal plan to create a more balanced meal. A bowl of soup can warm the belly and open the palate. Tasty morsels of appetizers are often the first glimpse of more good things to come. Practically speaking, a first course also can serve as a way to keep hunger at bay while the sushi is being prepared.

One soup for sipping, served along with one or two appetizers, is generally a good approach to balancing a sushi meal. Let the seasons be your guide if selecting a first course feels daunting. Miso Soup and Soba Noodle Soup are year-round staples that feel appropriate despite the outside temperature. Cold Tofu Trio and Spaghetti Squash Somen are a refreshing cool start to help temper the heat of summer. Warm up the briskness of autumn with a bowl of Clear Soup with Pumpkin Dumplings or Dengaku. Choices for the start of the meal should also balance the sushi in terms of preparation. When preparing sushi with more complex steps, opt for starters that require the simplest preparation methods. If sushi preparation is straightforward, a starter with more involved steps will not feel overly cumbersome.

Vegetable Tempura

When making tempura, you must be mindful not only of the temperature of the oil, but also that of the batter and vegetables. Use a deep-fryer thermometer to make sure the oil stays between 335°F (168°C) and 350°F (175°C) to prevent sogginess. Meanwhile, keep the batter cold to produce a lacy and light coating. Vegetables should be at room temperature to minimize the drop in oil temperature when frying.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: About 2 minutes per piece

Makes 4-6 appetizer servings


½ small yellow onion, peeled

2 Japanese eggplants

8 shiitake mushroom caps

8 oz (250 g) asparagus, blanched

8 slices lotus root, peeled and blanched

1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 2-in (5-cm) lengths

½ avocado, cut into 8 wedges

8 shiso (perilla) leaves

Vegan Tempura Batter

½ cup (75 g) all-purpose flour

½ cup (75 g) potato starch or cornstarch (corn flour), plus more for dusting

1 cup (125 ml) cold carbonated water

Pinch of salt

Handful of ice cubes

Oil for frying

1 teaspoon grated ginger

1 teaspoon grated daikon radish

Tempura Dipping Sauce (page 26), if desired

Insert toothpicks or short skewers through the onion at ¼ inch (6 mm) intervals. Cut the onion into slices between the toothpicks or skewers. Set aside.

Cut each Japanese eggplant in half lengthwise. Make three long cuts in each half to produce a fan shape. Set aside.

Use a sharp knife to remove a crosshatch section from the top of each shiitake mushroom cap. Set aside.

Have all other vegetables ready. Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a skillet or wok to 350°F (175°C).

Make the tempura batter: In a small bowl, stir together the flour, potato starch, carbonated water, and salt. Add the ice cubes. The batter will be thin.

Dredge three or four vegetable pieces in potato starch and shake off the excess.

Dip the vegetable pieces into the cold batter. You should still be able to see the vegetables through the batter.

Gently slide the dipped vegetables into the hot oil. Be careful not to drop ice into the hot grease. Fry until crisp, about 2 minutes. The eggplants will need to be flipped over and fried for about 2 minutes more.

Use a slotted spoon to remove vegetables from oil. Allow to drain on a wire rack. Discard the beads of batter that float in between batches.

Repeat with remaining vegetable pieces, a few at a time, monitoring the heat of the oil.

Arrange cooked Vegetable Tempura on a platter. Serve with warm Tempura Dipping Sauce, if desired, with grated daikon radish and ginger on the side.


Heat the oil to 350ºF (175ºC).


Stir together the batter ingredients.


Dip each vegetable into the batter.


Fry the vegetables until crisp.


Drain vegetables on a wire rack.

Soba Noodle Soup

Adding tempura to soup feels very much like adding crackers to soup. The hard crackers soften a bit in the warm broth, while still remaining a little crunchy. Any sort of tempura vegetable, like mushrooms, blanched asparagus, and onions, will compliment this soup. My favorite is tempura avocado. Whatever vegetable you select, be sure to add it to the soup immediately before serving so it doesn’t get soggy.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: About 15 minutes

Makes 4 servings

4 cups (1 liter) Vegetarian Dashi (page 27) or low-sodium vegetable stock

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon mirin

½ tablespoon sake

6 oz (175 g) dried soba noodles

2 inari pouches, cut into thin strips

8 pieces prepared Vegetable Tempura (see recipe on opposite page)

One 4 x 7-in (10 x 13-cm) nori sheet, cut into thin strips

2 green onions, thinly sliced

In a medium saucepan, bring the Vegetarian Dashi to a low simmer. Add the soy sauce, mirin and sake. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

Bring 4 quarts (3.75 liters) unsalted water to a boil. Add the soba noodles and cook for about 7 minutes, or until the soba is cooked through, but still firm. Drain in a colander and rinse well with warm water.

Divide the noodles evenly among 4 bowls. Spoon 1 cup (250 ml) of hot broth over each bowl of noodles.

Distribute the Vegetable Tempura pieces, inari pouch strips, nori strips, and green onions equally among the four bowls. Serve immediately.


Clear Soup with Pumpkin Dumplings

A little bit of toasted pumpkin seed oil goes a long way. Its earthy, robust flavor is very similar to that of toasted sesame oil. If you don’t have toasted pumpkin seed oil, use an equal amount of dark sesame oil instead.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Makes 6 servings


1 cup (220 g) pumpkin puree

1 square Japanese curry base

3 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

½ bunch fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), roughly chopped

4 teaspoons soy sauce

½ cup (30 g) panko breadcrumbs

18 square wonton wrappers

2 teaspoons potato starch, dissolved in 4 teaspoons water

Clear Soup

3 teaspoons toasted pumpkin seed oil

3 teaspoons roasted pumpkin seeds

12 oz (350 g) extra-firm tofu, cut into ½-in (1.25-cm) cubes

6 cups (1.5 liters) Vegetarian Dashi (page 27), heated

3 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced, if desired

Place a large pot of water over high heat. Bring to a boil.

To prepare the dumplings, combine the pumpkin puree, Japanese curry base, green onions, garlic, coriander leaves, soy sauce and panko breadcrumbs in a food processor. Pulse a few times, then process until well blended.

Place two wonton wrappers on your work surface. (Keep the remaining wrappers covered with a damp towel.) Spoon 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin mixture in the center of each wrapper. Dip a fingertip in the potato starch mixture and wet the edges of the wonton wrapper. Pull the edges of the wrapper around the mixture and pinch closed. Fold the dumpling so the ends meet and crimp to close. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

Gently drop the dumplings in the boiling water and then turn off the heat. Stir with a spoon to make sure none of the dumplings stick to the bottom of the pot. Let dumplings cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon.

To assemble the soup, lay out 6 medium-sized soup bowls. Place ½ teaspoon pumpkin seed oil and ½ teaspoon pumpkin seeds in each bowl. Divide the tofu evenly among the bowls. Add 3 warm dumplings to each bowl. Ladle 1 cup (250 ml) of hot dashi into each bowl. Sprinkle with green onions, if desired. Serve immediately.


Cold Tofu Trio

For many years, I was squeamish about tofu. Grilled, fried and sautéed versions that promised to taste “just like” their meat or fish counterparts left nothing but a bad taste in my mouth. It wasn’t until I was urged to try tofu as tofu—cold, unpretentious bites of creamy goodness—that I began to appreciate it.

Be sure to use the absolute best quality extra-firm tofu you can find for this trio. Chill the tofu before preparing the dish, or serve at room temperature.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Makes 6 servings

Two 12-oz (350-g) blocks firm tofu

4 tablespoons Amazu Sauce (page 24)

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon grated daikon radish

2 tablespoons shredded carrot

4 tablespoons Vegetarian Eel Sauce (page 26)

2 tablespoons fried onions (I like to use French’s)

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 tablespoons Vegetarian Ponzu Sauce (page 26)

1 green onion (scallion), finely sliced

Have ready 3 small serving dishes with shallow sides.

Cut each block of tofu into 6 even squares. Arrange four squares of tofu on each serving dish.

On the first dish, spoon the Amazu Sauce over the tofu. Add the ginger in a mound on top, followed by the daikon. Arrange the shredded carrots around the tofu.

On the second dish, spoon the Vegetarian Eel Sauce over the tofu. Sprinkle the fried onions on top.

For the third dish, arrange the cherry tomatoes over the tofu. Spoon the Vegetarian Ponzu Sauce over the tomatoes and tofu. Sprinkle with green onions.

Serve immediately.


Wasabi Deviled Eggs

For faster preparation, use a package of pre-boiled, pre-peeled eggs.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Makes 1 dozen

6 eggs

1 teaspoon wasabi powder

2 teaspoons water

½ teaspoon prepared horseradish

½ teaspoon mustard

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Pinch of salt

Basic Furikake Seasoning (page 30), to taste

Place eggs in a medium-sized saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat and cover tightly. Let sit undisturbed for 18 minutes.

While the eggs cook, prepare the wasabi mayonnaise. Stir together the wasabi powder and the water. Add the prepared horseradish, mustard, mayonnaise and soy sauce. Stir well.

Rinse eggs with cool water before peeling. Cut eggs in half lengthwise and scoop out yolks.

Place yolks in a bowl. Add the wasabi mayonnaise and salt. Mash and stir with a fork until the mixture is smooth.

Divide the egg yolk mixture evenly between the boiled egg halves.

Chill for at least 30 minutes. Sprinkle generously with Basic Furikake Seasoning just before serving.


Sriracha Deviled Eggs

Prepare the boiled eggs as described at left. Omit the wasabi powder, water, horseradish and mustard. Stir 1 tablespoon of sriracha sauce into the mayonnaise. Place the yolks in a bowl and add the sriracha mayonnaise, soy sauce and salt. Divide the egg yolk mixture evenly between the eggs and chill for at least 30 minutes. Garnish each egg with additional sriracha sauce, to taste.



Eggplant Dengaku (Broiled Miso Eggplant)

Soaking the eggplant in heavily salted water works wonders. The salt draws out the bitterness and leaves behind a pleasant, fresh taste. The overall texture of the cooked eggplant will be simultaneously firm and creamy. Use this technique before preparing any eggplant dish and everyone will wonder why your eggplant is always so tasty!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Makes 4 servings

4 Japanese eggplants or 2 medium-sized globe eggplants

4 tablespoons salt

1 cup (275 g) miso

4 teaspoons sugar

4 teaspoons mirin

2 tablespoons sesame oil

Toasted sesame seeds, to taste

Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Fill a large bowl or pot with lukewarm water and mix in the salt. Place the eggplant halves in the bowl, weight down with a lid or plate, and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, combine the miso, sugar and mirin over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a near boil. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Remove the eggplant halves from the salt water and pat dry. Cut a few shallow slits into each half. Rub with sesame oil and place face down on a baking sheet. Roast for 5 minutes, or until the eggplants feel soft in the center.

Remove the eggplants from the oven. Turn broiler to high. Flip the eggplants over so that the cut side is facing upwards. Brush each eggplant with a generous amount of the miso mixture. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over. Broil the eggplants for 3 minutes or until the topping is caramelized. Serve immediately.


Vegetable Gyoza

If this recipe yields more dumplings than you can eat in one sitting, cook them all and then store the extra ones in the freezer. Fully cooked dumplings freeze well and can be microwaved straight from the freezer for an anytime snack. To cook frozen dumplings, place the desired amount on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a paper towel and cook on high for about 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes per batch

Makes about 30 gyoza

Gyoza Dipping Sauce:

¾ cup (185 ml) soy sauce

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

2 green onions (scallions) sliced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Gyoza Filling:

4 tablespoons oil (more if needed)

½ lb (250 g) shiitake mushrooms

½ lb (250 g) spinach

½ lb (250 g) cabbage, finely chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 green onions (scallions), sliced

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

About 30 gyoza wrappers

1 tablespoon potato starch or cornstarch (corn flour), dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

Prepare the Gyoza Dipping Sauce: Stir together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, green onions and red pepper flakes. Set aside at room temperature.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the shiitake mushrooms and spinach until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

Place the shiitake mushroom and spinach mixture, cabbage, garlic, fresh ginger, green onions, soy sauce, salt and dark sesame oil in a food processor. Pulse several times and then process into a thick paste-like mixture.

Working with 6 gyoza wrappers at a time, place 1 teaspoon of the mushroom mixture in the center of each wrapper. Dip a finger in the potato starch mix and wet the outer rims of the wrappers.

Fold the edges over to form half-moon shapes and press tightly to seal. Set aside and cover with a damp towel. Repeat in batches of 6 with the remaining mixture.

Heat just enough of the remaining oil to coat the bottom of the bottom of a skillet with a fitted lid. Place 5 or 6 dumplings in the pan and allow to sear until the bottom becomes brown and crisp, about 1½ minutes. Using the lid to shield yourself from oil spattering, pour ¼ cup (65 ml) water into the skillet. Cover quickly. Cook the dumplings at least 3 minutes or until the water is almost gone.

Remove the dumplings from the skillet with a spatula. Rinse and dry the skillet and repeat the steps for cooking with the remaining dumplings.

Serve warm with Gyoza Dipping Sauce.


Kimchi Gyoza

Omit the shiitake mushrooms, spinach, cabbage, garlic and ginger. Drain 1 lb (500 g) of kimchi. Place in a food processor with 4 tablespoons tomato paste. Add the green onions, soy sauce, salt and dark sesame oil. Pulse several times, then process for 30 seconds. Follow the method given above for assembling then cooking the dumplings. Serve warm with Gyoza Dipping Sauce.



Make the dipping sauce.


Sauté the spinach and mushrooms until soft.


Process ingredients into a thick paste.


Work with no more than 6 wrappers at a time.


Place 1 tablespoon of filling in center of wrapper.


Seal the edges with slurry before crimping.


Sear dumplings until lightly browned.


Add ¼ cup (65 ml) water to skillet and cover.

Tempura Brie with Three Sauces and Ginger Snaps

Years ago, at a bed and breakfast where I worked, the chef set out a small bowl of thin gingersnap cookies next to the Brie on every cheese platter. After one taste of the combo, I was hooked. Thin crumbly Swedish ginger snaps pair better than the thicker, hard ones.

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Makes 3 servings

½ cup Vegetarian Eel Sauce (page 26)

½ cup (125 ml) Sweet Chili Sauce (page 25)

½ cup (125 ml) Amazu Sauce (page 24)

1 teaspoon fresh orange zest

4 oz (115 g) cherries, pitted and cut in half

1 cup (150 g) flour

1 cup (250 ml) soda water

1 egg

Peanut oil for frying

½ cup (75 g) potato starch or cornstarch (corn flour)

One 8 oz (230 g) wedge Brie, frozen at least 45 minutes

Thin ginger snaps (optional)

Stir the orange zest into the Sweet Chili Sauce. Toss the cherries with the Amazu Sauce. Set sauces aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, soda water and egg. The mixture will be lumpy.

Heat at least 2 in (5 cm) of the oil to 350°F (175°C) in a skillet or wok.

Dredge the frozen Brie in potato starch, then dip in the tempura batter. Dip again in the potato starch and then the tempura batter. Gently lower the Brie into the hot oil. Use a chopstick or cooking spoon to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the skillet or wok.

With a spoon, drizzle some of the tempura batter over the Brie as it cooks. Fry for 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oil and drain on a wire rack.

Place fried Brie on a serving platter. Serve immediately with sauces and ginger snaps, if desired.


Spaghetti Squash Somen

Traditional somen noodles are delicate wheat flour noodles that are often served in a bowl of ice water with a side of dipping sauce. Spaghetti squash offers a fun take on tradition. This dish is great for lunch on a hot summer day or on an especially warm autumn afternoon.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: about 35 minutes

Makes 4 servings

1 medium spaghetti squash

½ cup (125 ml) Vegetarian Dashi (page 27) or water

Dipping Sauce:

2 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons sake

4 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup (250 ml) Vegetarian Dashi (page 27)

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

4 green onions (scallions), finely chopped

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp. Place cut side down on a roasting pan. Pour the ½ cup Vegetarian Dashi or water into pan and cover with aluminum foil. Roast for 30 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the flesh.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, heat the mirin and sake over medium high heat for 2 minutes to cook off alcohol. Add the soy sauce, sugar and 1 cup Vegetarian Dashi. Cook for 2 minutes more, stirring often. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes before using.

When the squash is ready, drag a fork across the flesh side to create thin strands. Remove the “noodles” from the skin and allow to cool before refrigerating. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Divide squash among 4 serving dishes. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds. Provide dipping sauce for each person, as well as a dish with green onions and fresh ginger root. To eat, dip the “noodles” in the green onions and fresh ginger before dipping in the sauce.


Ponzu Garlic Somen

Toss chilled “noodles” with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon grated garlic and 4 oz (120 g) halved cherry tomatoes. Provide Furikake Seasoning (page 30) and Vegetarian Ponzu Sauce (page 26) for dipping.


Tofu Miso Soup

The lightly flavored broth is enhanced by salty miso. Creamy cubes of tofu float in the bowl as the flavor of the sea makes its way across your taste buds thanks to the flavorful wakame.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Makes 4 servings

2 teaspoons dried wakame seaweed

4 cups (1 liter) Vegetarian Dashi (page 27)

1 cup (275 g) miso

12 oz (350 g) tofu, cut into ½-in (1.25-cm) cubes (use more if desired)

Place the dried wakame in small bowl filled with lukewarm water. Allow to reconstitute for at least five minutes. Pour off excess water.

Bring the dashi to a simmer in a pot over medium heat, but do not allow it to boil. Add the miso to the pot and whisk until smooth.

Remove the dashi mixture from the heat and set aside.

Prepare 4 bowls for soup. Divide the reconstituted wakame and tofu among the four bowls. Ladle 1 cup (250 ml) of the dashi mixture into each bowl. Serve immediately.


Soy Glazed Sweet Potatoes

These are addictive. Try dipping them in Sorghum Soy Aioli (page 29). For a side dish, brush the sweet potatoes with butter instead of oil before roasting.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Makes 8 servings

4 large sweet potatoes (preferably unpeeled), cut into wedges

Oil for roasting

½ cup (125 ml) molasses or sorghum syrup

4 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons soy sauce

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Brush the sweet potato wedges generously with oil. Arrange the wedges on a heavy-bottomed baking sheet so that they do not touch. Roast for 15 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes roast, prepare the glaze. Bring the molasses and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the soy sauce.

After the potatoes have roasted for 15 minutes, carefully pour the molasses mixture over them. Toss gently with tongs. Roast the potatoes for 5 more minutes or until tender.

Serve hot or at room temperature.


Edamame Hummus

A nice bowl of this delicious hummus is a crowd pleaser—as long as the crowd knows it’s not a bowl of wasabi! Set aside a few of the whole cooked edamame beans for a garnish. Placing those on top of the finished dish along with a splash of sesame oil helps to make the distinction.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Makes about 2 cups (500 ml)

One 16 oz (500 g) package shelled edamame (green soybeans)

½ cup (125 ml) water

Juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon tahini

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

½ teaspoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste

Boil or steam the edamame according to package instructions. Drain and cool to room temperature.

Place the cooled edamame, water, lemon juice, soy sauce, tahini, sesame oil, garlic, ground coriander and salt in a high-powered blender or food processor. Pulse a few times before blending or processing. (If it seems to be moving slowly, stop the appliance immediately. Add about 4 tablespoons of water and pulse again before blending or processing to keep the motor from burning out.)

Continue blending or processing until the hummus is smooth and creamy.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.