Onigirazu (sushi sandwich)

vegan onigirazu stack

Calling all sushi lovers! Have you ever heard of onigirazu, also known as a sushi sandwich? As the name suggests, it’s a love child of a western sandwich and a Japanese sushi roll. It’s quite easy to make, it travels well, and being sushi’s distant cousin, it’s naturally gluten-free and very filling too.

Don’t be intimidated by the length of this recipe. In my usual style, I went for two different fillings (tofu and sweet potato) in my onigirazu and so I felt the need to explain in detail how to go about making either of them (2 ways!), which makes the recipe SEEM extremely fussy and complicated. It’s not.

Choose either filling, decide whether you want the sinful, fried version of your core ingredient or the healthier, baked one and you can start pumping out these beauties like a (lady) boss! 🙂 It’s okay, you can thank me later – call me old-fashioned but I’m not keen on the whole talking while chewing business 😉 .

PS: If you do make this cracker of a sandwich, don’t forget to take a photo of it and tag me on Instagram as @lazycatkitchen and use #lazycatkitchen hashtag. I love seeing your take on my recipes!

making onigirazu

vegan onigirazu

5.00 from 4 votes
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Ingredients

ONIGIRAZU

TOFU KATSU VERSION

  • 2 x 200 g / 7 oz firm tofu, pressed**
  • tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 cup aquafaba (reduced so that it resembles an egg white)
  • 1-2 cups panko breadcrumbs (GF breadcrumbs for GF version)
  • all purpose flour or cornflour (for GF version)
  • 2 cups frying oil (for fried version only)

SWEET POTATO VERSION

QUICK PICKLED RED CABBAGE (optional)

  • a wedge of red cabbage, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed with the side of a knife

Method

    FILLINGS

    TOFU KATSU VERSION

    1. BAKED – Set the oven to 200° C / 390° F and line a baking tray with baking paper. Toast panko breadcrumbs in a small pan until golden (they will gain more colour in the oven). Cut each tofu block into two 50% thinner blocks. Sprinkle tofu with some soy sauce (or tamari) or you can season the flour with plenty of salt instead. Drag tofu in flour making sure that the entire surface area has been coated. Dip the tofu in the gelatinous aquafaba and finally drag it in the pre-toasted breadcrumbs. Brush a bit of oil on the baking paper underneath the tofu and bake for about 30 minutes (until crisp and dry) flipping the pieces to the other side half way through.
    2. FRIED – Fill a small pot with 2 cups of frying oil and set on the stove. Cut each tofu block into two 50% thinner blocks. Sprinkle tofu with some soy sauce (or tamari) or you can season the flour with plenty of salt instead. Drag tofu in flour making sure that the entire surface area has been coated. Dip tofu in gelatinous aquafaba and finally drag it in breadcrumbs. Carefully lower the tofu, one piece at the time, into hot oil and let it fry for about 3 minutes on each side. Once ready, place fried tofu on a piece of kitchen towel to get rid of the excess oil.
    3. You can also prepare tofu as in this recipe.

    SWEET POTATO VERSION

    1. BAKED – Set the oven to 220° C / 425° F and line a baking tray with baking paper. Mix all the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl. Cut the middle (widest) section of your sweet potato, peel it and slice into ½ cm / 0.2″ slices. Brush each slice with the marinade and place the slices on the prepared baking tray. Bake for about 20 min (until soft), flipping the slices to the other side halfway through.
    2. You can also make sweet potato into a katsu like in this recipe.

    ASSEMBLY

    1. Cut a square of cling film slightly larger than your nori sheet. Place it on the table, place the nori sheet on top with the shiny side down and rotated 45° in relation to the cling film (SEE PHOTOS above).
    2. Wet your hands (keep a small bowl of water handy to wet your hands) and grab a handful of rice. Place it in the middle of the sheet and using your hands form it into a compacted square (about 9 cm / 3.5 ” by 9 cm / 3.5 “). Try to make that layer as even and compacted as possible. Season well with salt.
    3. Place remaining ingredients on top. For the tofu onigirazu, I put a layer of spinach, avocado slices, Sriracha and tofu katsu. For the sweet potato onigirazu, I used a layer of pickled cabbage, avocado slices, Sriracha and a sweet potato disc. At this point cover all the ingredients with another layer of compacted rice. I found it a bit tricky to get the rice packed tightly without squashing the ingredients underneath. My hack solution was to create that top layer of rice on a lightly oiled piece of aluminium foil, put this rice layer on the top of the stack and then peel the foil off at the end (see the video above). Otherwise you can get a special onigirazu mould that makes this easier, but I do not have one.
    4. Once you are done with your stack, seal all four corners of the nori sheet on top of the filling. Fold the right corner over the stack, wet the end of the nori sheet with a wet finger and fold the left corner over the stack and ‘glue’ it to the right corner. Repeat the same thing with bottom and top corners until you get a small packet.
    5. Finally gather all the cling film over the stack and tie on the top. Put something moderately heavy (like a breadboard) on the onigirazu and set it aside to let the seaweed soften a little. Cut in half with a sharp knife.

    QUICK PICKLED RED CABBAGE (optional)

    1. Place shredded cabbage in a sterilised, medium size jar.
    2. Put the remaining ingredients and 120 ml / ½ cup water in a small pot. Bring to a gentle boil, over low heat.
    3. Once they come to the boil (make sure the sugar has dissolved), pour the mixture over the cabbage and stir well. Make sure that the pickling liquid covers all of the cabbage. Set aside for 6-8 hours and consume.

Notes

*I’ve only made onigirazu with sushi rice, but I have made sushi with brown rice and red Thai rice before so if you are after a healthier option, try to use either of these instead.

**To press the tofu, you either need a special tofu press or you can do it with a bunch of kitchen towels and a heavy weight. Wrap your tofu in a paper towel, place it on a plate and weigh it down with something heavy (like a can of coconut milk, for example). Once the paper towel becomes wet, change it for a new one. Repeat a few times until the paper towel stays almost dry. Pressed tofu is tastier as it absorbs flavours better.