Tomato Sushi – Yes, That’s Vegetarian – Recipe

Tomato Sushi copy
Tomato Sushi – Yes, That’s Vegetarian

Depending on where you live, great tomatoes are probably coming online right about now. Once you have gorged yourself on an indecent quantity dressed with nothing but olive oil and salt, and the requisite insalata caprese, maybe you’ll be ready to think about manipulating them just a bit more.

One of my favorite games in the kitchen is to ask myself how I can take apart a fruit or vegetable and then get the most out of the flavors and textures of each component. In this case, we use the seeds and gel raw, sear the flesh briefly, and crisp the skin using Heston Blumenthal’s microwave frying method, which is more typically applied to herbs. Be sure not to use a plastic wrap made from PVC for the microwave frying; it breaks down into unpleasant chemicals when exposed to a lot of heat.

Tomatoes taste incredible with nori. I need to explore this flavor combination more. The umami in each seems to reinforce the other in a way that I find really compelling.

Depending on the size of your tomato, this may make quite a bit more than 3 pieces of sushi.

Be sure not to apply the garnish of tomato skin and nori until the very last second, as it doesn’t take long for them to absorb moisture and go soft.

If you haven’t done it before, La Fuji Mama has a good introduction on how to prepare sushi rice.

Tomato Sushi
Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free
Makes 3 pieces

Special equipment: blowtorch (optional)

  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • 1/3 cup cooked and vinegared sushi rice
  • prepared wasabi
  • vegetable oil
  • 12 strips toasted nori, 1-inch by 1/16-inch
  • flaky black sea salt
  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Cut an X in the skin on the bottom of the tomato.
  2. Dunk the tomato for 10 seconds in the boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool briefy. Peel off the skin, trying to keep it in 4 large sections.
  3. Cover a dinner plate with microwave-safe plastic wrap, tight as a drum. Brush the plastic wrap with vegetable oil. Lay the tomato skin on the plastic wrap, flat, and brush with a bit more oil. Microwave at 50% power until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Cut into 1 inch by 1/16″ strips.
  4. Cut the tomato into segments about 1 1/4″ wide. Scoop out and reserve the seed pockets (just seeds and gel, no white parts). Lay each tomato segment on your board, outside down, and carefully cut parallel to the board, leaving just a 1/8″ thick piece of flesh. Trim the ends.
  5. Form the sushi rice into three small, flattened balls. Dab each ball with a tiny amount of wasabi. Place one tomato segment over each ball of rice and brush lightly with oil. Blowtorch for about 5 seconds each, just long enough to darken a small area. Top each piece with about 1/4 teaspoon of the tomato seed gel, a few strips of nori, a few strips of tomato skin and a few grains of the black sea salt. Serve immediately (before the tomato skin and nori begin to soften).
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, August 8th, 2011 in Appetizers, Experiments, Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

12 Responses to “Tomato Sushi – Yes, That’s Vegetarian – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    Anne Campbell
    August 8, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    That sounds fabulous! I’ve been kicking around an idea of making a “fried egg” with fresh mozzarella for the white and a halved Sungold tomato for the yolk. Any ideas for how to bring in basil without ruining the effect?

  2. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    August 8, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Hey Anne – your idea sounds delicious! One approach would be to puree and reverse-spherify the tomato, including a few drops of basil oil in the puree. Or if you want to keep the tomato whole, how about removing the skin and using a needle to inject a single drop of intensely flavored basil oil. That would be mysterious! Or, usually you would serve toast with a fried egg, so maybe some sort of a basil cracker / croquant / tuille.

  3. Reply
    August 8, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    Niiice. The texture of tomatoes is actually something like fish, great idea. Now I see why you wondered about sushi rice! It’s all in the shopping.

  4. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    August 8, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Yeah, I didn't have it in me that day to do a whole write-up of how to make sushi rice, and I figured someone else would already have a good tutorial. Ivy, if you have a link to that magazine piece you did, please mention it in the comments – I think people would appreciate your details on the best rice, vinegar and so forth.

  5. Reply
    August 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    My vegetarian Japanese food loving family will love this one. Will definitely give it a try. It will be my first attempt at sushi.

  6. Reply
    August 8, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    This tomato sushi recipe looks very interesting! Hmmm… I really want to try this! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  7. Reply
    August 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    I am a veggie too!! I love your blog, I newly built my own vegeterian recipe website! I hope to make some of your recipes soon, and give you the credit!

  8. Reply
    August 11, 2011 at 5:34 am #

    That sushi looks amazing. lOVE this. Your recipes are fab. Hope you submit this to 🙂 -k

  9. Reply
    July 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    wow this is so smart, i love it!! great creation (and presentation!!) saw this on pinterest.

  10. Reply
    December 14, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    this sounds great. i might try that with oven dried tomatoes 🙂

  11. Reply
    May 28, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

    I can’t find flaky black sea salt. Can I use something else?

    • Reply
      May 29, 2015 at 8:40 am #

      Absolutely, any kid of sea salt you like is fine, though I’d prefer a flaky one if possible.

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