Vegan “Eel” Sushi Recipe with Homemade Unagi Sauce | Veggiekins Blog (2024)

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By Remy

Sep 21, 2020 • Updated Jan 24, 2024

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This 5-ingredient homemade vegan sushi recipe is a great alternative to conventional eel sushi with all of the flavours you love! Made with eggplant, sushi rice, and an addicting homemade unagi sauce. This easy recipe is vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and oil-free.

Vegan “Eel” Sushi Recipe with Homemade Unagi Sauce | Veggiekins Blog (2)

What is Vegan Sushi?

Vegan sushi rolls are a creative and flavorful plant-based alternative to traditional sushi. You can re-create a California roll, sushi bowls, sushi burritos, spicy tuna rolls, and other classic sushi rolls typically made with raw fish, tuna, or crab using simple ingredients and fresh vegetables. Vegan-friendly sauces and condiments like soy sauce, pickled ginger, wasabi, and sometimes sriracha are also used.

But today, we are focusing on “veganizing” the ever-delicious Eel Sushi! Also known as unagi sushi, this roll typically features grilled freshwater eel (unagi) and sushi rice. The eel is marinated, grilled, and sliced, while the rice is seasoned with rice vinegar. It’s smothered in an addicting unagi eel sauce that just can’t be beat!

My vegan homemade sushi version has the same delicious flavor and texture but is made with eggplant! I’ve also made a vegan and gluten-free version of the sauce that wins over the whole recipe! With plant-based ingredients, sushi lovers can enjoy homemade sushi just like a Japanese restaurant!

What Makes This Recipe Great

​​I recently shared this fun Vegan Eel Sushi recipe over on TikTok, and included it in a YouTube video sharing everything I ate in a week. You really only need 5 ingredients to make this tender, faux eel smothered in a delicious unagi sauce.

In my opinion, eel sushi (unagi) is all about the sauce, which is actually very easy to make both vegan and gluten-free. Eggplant is both meaty and soft enough to serve as the perfect faux eel, so when paired together, you get a very realistic experience.

This recipe is vegan, gluten free and can be made refined sugar free and oil free. Now, let’s make this easy vegan sushi recipe!

Sushi Ingredients Notes

Vegan “Eel” Sushi Recipe with Homemade Unagi Sauce | Veggiekins Blog (3)
  • Japanese/Chinese Eggplant: The base of our recipe today. Using most eggplant varieties will work, but I find that Japanese and Chinese eggplant is the perfect size for this recipe.
  • Gluten-free soy sauce or tamari: This is a key ingredient in making unagi sauce, and to make it gluten-free, I use gluten-free soy sauce or tamari. You can also use liquid aminos.
  • Coconut sugar or maple syrup: To sweeten and help thicken the sauce, I opted for coconut sugar, but you can also use agave or maple syrup.
  • Mirin: To finish the sauce, a little bit of mirin.
  • Sushi rice: Make a fresh batch of short-grain white rice or use leftover sticky rice.This is a great way to use up cooked rice.
  • Salt
  • Neutral Oil
  • Garnish: Green onion, sesame seeds, and/or nori seaweed.

How to Make Vegan Sushi

Making this vegan sushi recipe is actually really easy! Start by peeling your eggplant, then slice lengthwise into planks.

We’re generously salting our eggplant planks which help to tenderize firm eggplant, remove a little bit of bitterness and make the texture a lot more palatable. Then, you’ll want to rinse off excess salt and pat dry with a kitchen towel.

To season, we’re braising the eggplant with our unagi sauce marinade, which slowly thickens up as the sugars start to caramelize. It’s actually a pretty easy process and turns out great every time!

Step-by-Step Instructions

Vegan “Eel” Sushi Recipe with Homemade Unagi Sauce | Veggiekins Blog (4)
  1. Begin by preparing the eggplant. Remove the skin using a veggie peeler and then slice lengthwise into 1/4″ thick planks with a very sharp knife. If you’re enjoying as donburi, you can keep your slices long, otherwise, cut planks into roughly 4-5″ long pieces to enjoy as sushi!
  2. Generously sprinkle salt over both sides of every eggplant piece and allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off any excess salt and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  3. Cook both sides of your eggplant pieces in a large pan with a touch of neutral oil just until lightly golden. Then make your unagi sauce by combining tamari, mirin, and coconut sugar and adding to the pan.
  4. On low heat, braise your eggplant in the sauce until it reduces and becomes slightly viscous.
  5. As an optional step, finish your “eel sushi” by torching it with a blowtorch.
  6. To serve, top your rice with your eggplant pieces, brush or spoon over leftover glaze from the pan, and top with green onions and sesame seeds if desired.
Vegan “Eel” Sushi Recipe with Homemade Unagi Sauce | Veggiekins Blog (5)

Serving Tips

  • You can enjoy this vegan eel sushi over rice, donburi style (Japanese rice bowl), or chop it into small pieces to create nigiri (sushi pieces).
  • If you’re not a fan of eggplant, you can also just make the unagi sauce and enjoy it with… well, everything! It’s absolutely delicious, trust me.

Storage Tips

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and enjoy for lunch the next day!

Recipe FAQs

What is vegan sushi made of?

Depending on the vegan sushi roll you are making, the ingredients vary quite a bit. These favorite ingredients include seasoned rice, a nori sheet, tofu, tempura, shiitake mushrooms, cucumber, carrots, cabbage, bell pepper, avocado, cilantro, vegan cream cheese, miso paste, and more! In this recipe, I focus on a vegan version of eel sushi.

Vegan “Eel” Sushi Recipe with Homemade Unagi Sauce | Veggiekins Blog (6)

More Asian Vegan Recipes

Zaru Soba

Miso Mushroom Ramen

Gluten Free Shoyu Ramen

Tofu “Spam” Musubi

If you try this vegan sushi recipe out, tag me on Instagram @veggiekins so I can see your delicious re-creations and feature them! As always, I love when you share your reviews in the comments below, and if you make any fun substitutions, let me know how it worked out below too.

Vegan “Eel” Sushi Recipe with Homemade Unagi Sauce | Veggiekins Blog (7)

Vegan “Eel” Sushi with Homemade Unagi Sauce

5 from 1 vote

Servings: 3 -4 servings

Prep: 30 minutes mins

Cook: 15 minutes mins

Total: 45 minutes mins

Vegan “Eel” Sushi Recipe with Homemade Unagi Sauce | Veggiekins Blog (8)

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5 ingredient vegan sushi, a great alternative to conventional eel sushi with all of the flavour you love! Made with eggplant, sushi rice, and an addicting homemade unagi sauce. This easy recipe is vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and oil-free.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Japanese/Chinese eggplants I used 3 pieces roughly 8″ in size
  • 1/3 cup gluten free soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/3 cup mirin
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • salt
  • neutral oil
  • optional garnish
  • green onions
  • sesame seeds
  • nori

Instructions

  • Begin by preparing the eggplant. Remove the skin using a veggie peeler and then slice lengthwise into 1/4" thick planks. If you're enjoying as donburi, you can keep your slices long, otherwise, cut planks into roughly 4-5" long pieces to enjoy as sushi!

  • Generously sprinkle salt over both sides of every eggplant piece and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off any excess salt and pat dry with a kitchen towel.

  • Cook both sides of your eggplant pieces in a large pan with a touch of neutral oil, just until lightly golden. Then make your sauce by combining tamari, mirin and coconut sugar and adding to the pan.

  • On low heat, braise your eggplant in the sauce until it starts to reduce down and becomes slightly viscous.

  • As an optional step, finish your "eel" by torching with a blowtorch.

  • To serve, top your rice with your eggplant pieces, brush or spoon over leftover glaze from the pan and top with green onions and sesame seeds if desired.

Notes

Serving Tips

  • You can enjoy this vegan sushi over rice, donburi style (Japanese rice bowl), or chop it into small pieces to create nigiri (sushi pieces).
  • If you’re not a fan of eggplant, you can also just make the unagi sauce and enjoy it with… well, everything! It’s absolutely delicious, trust me.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this recipe?Tag @veggiekins on Instagram and hashtag it with #veggiekins

Categorized as: Eat, Gluten Free, Main Dishes, Oil Free, Sauces and Dressings

About Remy

Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.

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Vegan “Eel” Sushi Recipe with Homemade Unagi Sauce | Veggiekins Blog (2024)

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