This Vegan Spicy Tuna Crunch Roll with Tempeh will completely change your mind about vegan sushi! Avocado cucumber rolls are great but this spicy tempeh crunch roll really hits the spot and takes vegan sushi to the next level.
This crunch roll is a fan favorite in my house. Steamed and seasoned tempeh, avocado slices, perfectly seasoned sushi rice, and a crispy crunchy breadcrumb topping. It's incredible!
This recipe has been updated as of September 2022 with new pictures and more information but the recipe that follows is the same.
Making your own homemade vegan spicy tuna roll is easier than ever! It's made with simple ingredients and is fun yet super easy to make. This recipe is a definite crowd-pleaser- it's flavorful, spicy, and super customizable to your personal preferences.
- Sushi Rice: You'll want sushi rice for this recipe- sushi rice is a short-grain rice. Long-grain rice will not work.
- Sushi Rice Seasoning: Rice vinegar, sugar, and salt are whisked together and added to the rice. This is essential for making flavorful, classic seasoned sushi.
- Tempeh: Instead of tuna, we will be using steamed and crumbled tempeh. It's mixed with vegan mayo and ingredients including sesame oil, lemon juice, and chili sauce. It's incredibly flavorful and tasty!
- Vegan Mayo: You can use any vegan mayo that you enjoy. I used Follow your Heart.
- Chili Sauce: I used sambal oelek for the spice in this recipe but hot sauce like sriracha or chili garlic sauce will work as well.
- Nori: You'll want to get toasted nori seaweed sheets for this vegan sushi recipe.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: Adds the crunch to our crunch roll! The sushi is dipped in spicy mayo and then dipped in toasted breadcrumbs. Some panko breadcrumbs aren't vegan friendly so be sure to check the ingredients.
- Avocado: I added avocado slices to my rolls but you can add cucumber slices, carrots, red bell peppers, or any veggies you enjoy!
How to Make This Recipe
Make Sushi Rice by following the package directions. Including rinsing, soaking, and cooking.
Add the hot cooked rice to a large mixing bowl and toss with the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Allow to cool.
Bring half a pot of water to a boil and then lower it to a simmer. Use a steamer basket to steam the tempeh for 15 minutes. Steaming tempeh reduces bitterness and will soften the tempeh- I don't recommend skipping this step.
Crumble the tempeh.
Whisk together the vegan mayo, lemon juice, sesame oil, chili sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the mayo mixture to the crumbled tempeh and mix well until coated evenly in the sauce. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your taste.
Prep the slices of avocado. If using other veggies, prepare those now.
Place your sheet of nori, rough side up, on a sushi mat. Keep a small bowl of water close by to dip your fingers in so the rice won’t stick to you. Spread out the rice onto the nori sheet in a thin layer and then add the spicy tempeh and avocado in a straight line on the side closest to you.
Roll the sushi by lifting the nori over the filling tightly and then continue rolling while using the sushi mat to keep it tight. Use a very sharp knife to slice your sushi rolls into 8 pieces.
Make the crunchy topping by whisking together the vegan mayo and chili sauce in a small bowl to make spicy sriracha mayo.
Toast the panko breadcrumbs on medium heat until golden and crispy.
Dip the top of each piece of sushi into the spicy mayo and then directly into the toasted panko until all have been dipped. Top with sesame seeds and green onion.
Tools for Sushi
I love and recommend a sushi mat when making homemade sushi. It makes rolling them easier and helps with making a tight roll. Obviously, a bamboo mat isn't a necessity but it is an incredibly helpful tool to have handy.
Tips & Tricks
Cook the sushi rice according to the package: this includes rinsing, soaking, and cooking instructions. The instructions can vary from brand to brand. I used a 1:1 ratio of sushi rice to water in a rice cooker.
Don’t skip steaming the tempeh. Steaming tempeh gets rid of any bitter flavor and will soften it up making it the perfect texture for this sushi roll.
Once the rice is cooked- season with the sugar, vinegar, and salt while it's still hot. Mix well to combine then allow to cool.
Lay the nori on your mat with the shiny side down and the rough side up.
Have a tiny dish with some water beside your workstation. The sushi rice is sticky and hard to work with so you'll need to dip your fingers in the water before spreading the rice onto the nori sheet.
Make sure you aren't pressing and mashing the rice into the nori- simply spread it to coat the majority of the sheet excluding about a ½in on the side that's furthest away from you.
Substitutions & Additions
This spicy crunch roll is super customizable. If you don't like tempeh, no worries. If you like things extra spicy, kick up the spicy. Get creative!
Tempeh: You can use canned Jackfruit in replace of the tempeh. I recommend drying the jackfruit off after draining to remove some moisture.
Chili Sauce: Any hot sauce will work- Sambal Oelek, Chili Garlic Sauce, or vegan-friendly Sriracha sauce work best.
Avocado: You can use cucumber, red bell peppers, shredded carrots, or basically any other veggies!
More Vegan Sushi Roll Ideas
Make a veggie sushi roll by omitting the tempeh and adding a wide range of veggies. Carrots, cucumbers, and avocado would be great.
Fill with jackfruit, crispy tofu, vegan cream cheese, tempura veggies, or sweet potatoes.
Make a vegan California roll, use tomato flesh to make a tomato tuna substitute, or keep it simple with avocado rolls.
You could even make this spicy tempeh crunch roll into sushi bowls. Make the rice and filling as instructed but serve in a bowl topped with veggies and a side of nori and soy sauce.
This vegan crunch roll is best served fresh. If you plan to have leftovers, I recommend storing the rice and tempeh separately and rolling the sushi when ready to serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most sushi is not vegan because it contains fish. But I have found that sushi restaurants are super accommodating to vegans and vegetarians and often include a variety of vegetable rolls on their menu- just ask the restaurant staff and see what vegan options they have.
You can use jackfruit, chickpeas, or store-bought vegan tuna but tempeh is my top choice for this recipe.
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Vegan Spicy Tuna Crunch Roll with Tempeh
Spicy Tempeh Crunch Roll
- 1 ½ cup Sushi Rice dry
- 1 ½ cups Water follow package instructions
- 2 tablespoons Rice Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 4 Sheets Toasted Nori
- 1 block of Tempeh
- ⅓ cup Vegan Mayo
- 1 ½ teaspoon Lemon Juice
- ½ teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 tablespoon Chili Sauce
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 Large Avocado
Spicy Crunchy Topping:
- ¼ cup Vegan Mayo
- 2-3 teaspoons Chili Sauce
- ⅓ cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- Sesame Seeds for garnish
- Green Onion for garnish
- Make Sushi Rice by following the package directions. Including rinsing, soaking, and cooking- I cooked sushi rice and water in a 1:1 ratio in a rice cooker.
- Add the hot cooked rice to a large bowl and toss with the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Allow to cool.
- Bring half a pot of water to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Use a steamer basket to steam the tempeh for 15 minutes. Add steamed tempeh to a bowl and let cool until you can crumble the tempeh in to small pieces with clean hands.
- Whisk together the vegan mayo, lemon juice, sesame oil, chili sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the mayo mixture to the crumbled tempeh and mix well until coated evenly in the sauce. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your taste.
- Prep the avocado by slicing it into thin slices. If using other veggies, prepare those now.
- Place your sheet of nori, rough side up, on a sushi mat. Keep a small bowl of water close by to dip your fingers in so the rice won't stick to you. Spread out the rice onto the nori sheet (see photo) and then add the spicy tempeh and avocado in a straight line on the side closest to you. Roll the sushi by lifting the nori over the filling tightly and then continue rolling while using the sushi mat to keep it tight. Use a sharp knife to slice your sushi rolls into 8 pieces.
- Now, let's make the crunchy topping: Whisk together the vegan mayo and chili sauce to a small bowl. Taste and add more heat if desired.
- Toast the panko breadcrumbs on medium heat until golden and crispy.
- Dip the top of each piece of sushi into the spicy mayo and then directly into the toasted panko until all have been dipped. Top with sesame seeds and green onion if desired and serve.
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