Recipe: Vegan Tuna Sushi

If you’re a sushi lover like me, you might never get tired of eating this delectable Japanese cuisine! I have always enjoyed seafood, but am aware that our current options in our supermarkets may not be sourced or caught sustainably. By this, I mean that some of the fish sold in markets are overfished, or there may be fishing and farming methods that have negative effects on the marine populations. Oceana prepared a helpful Sustainable Seafood Guide for those interested in shopping for seafood that is still okay to eat and whose populations are abundant enough to consume.

Tuna are one of the species that is overfished because of its popularity in many cuisines. Admittedly, they are one of my favorite sushi fish, so I wanted to find an alternative food that I can enjoy with less of an environmental impact. Enter Merle and her amazing vegan ways who presented a recipe using tomatoes as a substitute for tuna! I had to try it. Here’s the adapted ingredients and steps I took.


  • 3-4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup oil (according to Merle’s recipe she recommends a neutral oil, but I only have olive oil and it still came out okay)
  • 1 sheet of seaweed (I didn’t have the big sushi sheets, and had the seaweed snack packs and used about 3/4 of the pack)


  1. While you boil a small pot of water, cut a small “X” at the bottom of your tomatoes, and cut out the top of the tomato (where the stem usually is). It might help to make a small “X” at the top as well.
  2. Once the water is boiling, pop the tomatoes in and let it sit in the boiling water for a couple of minutes, or until you see that the tomato skin is starting to peel away from the tomato, and then shut off the fire.
  3. Prepare an ice bath for your tomatoes, and drop them in so you can cool them off.
  4. Peel off the rest of the skin of the tomatoes, cut them into quarters and hollow them out. (To avoid food waste, I saved the skins and the tomato seeds and just ate it by itself and also with rice)
  5. For the marinade, put sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, oil, and the cut-up seaweed together in the bowl you’ll use to marinate the tomatoes and mix well.
  6. Add the tomatoes into the marinade and coat thoroughly, cover with a bowl or silicone lid (avoid plastic and saran wrap!) and pop it into the fridge for a couple of hours. Remember, the longer it sits in the marinade, the more the marinade will soak into the tomato flesh.
  7. Cook some rice if you want to make a poke bowl or make tuna tomato sushi, and assemble your dish!

I’ll be honest with you, this won’t taste like tuna, and I think that’s okay. When I had the cravings, I would buy some tomatoes and make this, and it would definitely satisfy the sushi itch and I can feel guilt-free about eating it too! I’ve already made three batches of this so far and love that this is SUPER inexpensive if you have the pantry staples–all you really need are the tomatoes and the seaweed if you don’t already have them at home.