Vegan Dreams of Sushi Come True with This Tofu Tamago Nigiri

Even if you're no Jiro Ono, making your own sushi can be a fun project – especially when it's this veganized version of classic tamago

Photo: Adam Corey Thomas for Vegetarian Times

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Tamago or tamagoyaki is a traditional Japanese omelet, made of thin layers of seasoned egg that are rolled to create a rectangular block of seasoned egg. At sushi bars, a slice of tamago is often served over a “finger” of seasoned rice. This vegan tamago is made from tofu to create a purely plant-based alternative that still captures the texture and sweet-savory taste of the original version.

Once you master making the vegan tamago itself, you can try using it other forms. Consider adding it to sushi rolls or onigiri rice triangles or balls, or using it to top rice or a bowl of ramen.

To make this faux-egg truly “egg-y,” I use the uniquely sulfurous and savory kala nema, also known as black salt. Kala nemak can be found in stores that specialize in South Asian ingredients or purchased online. If you don’t have any (or would simply prefer to avoid the strong sulfur aroma) just substitute standard salt.

Sushi experts will know that tamago is traditionally cooked in a special square, high-sided ban known as a makiyakinabe. Do not worry if you don’t have one of those in your cabinet. For our vegan tamago variation, I have scaled the recipe down to cook in a standard loaf pan.


More Related Recipes to Try Next:

Japanese Cucumber and Wakame Salad
Japanese Curry with Edamame
Sushi Rice Bowls with Tofu Teriyaki
Sweet Potato Sushi Bowls with Ginger Soy Dressing

Vegan Tamago Nigiri



  • 14 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 teaspoon kala nemak black salt (or 3/4 teaspoon salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 medium scallion, thinly sliced
  • sesame oil for pan

Sushi rice

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 sheet nori
  • Wasabi, to taste
  • Grated daikon, for serving
  • Pickled ginger, for serving
  • Soy sauce, for serving


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Press tofu by wrapping in a clean kitchen towel and placing a cutting board on top. Allow the excess moisture to soak into the towel, then unwrap and pat dry.

Place tofu in a food processor, process, then scrape down and puree until completely smooth. Add arrowroot, sugar, miso, kala nemak or salt and turmeric and process to mix. Scrape down and add the mirin, tamari and rice vinegar, then process until well mixed. Stir in the scallions.

Brush sesame oil generously in a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pan and spread the tofu mixture in the pan. Bake for 40 minutes, until browned and puffed, and firm to the touch. Chill the tamago for at least two hours or overnight.

Run a knife around the edges to loosen the tamago and invert pan to remove. Slice across the loaf to make 12 3/4 inch pieces.

Pour the rice in a medium bowl and cover with cool water, swirl, then pour off the water, repeating until the water runs clear, then strain rice in a wire strainer. If you have an electric rice steamer, use that to cook rice. If not, put washed rice and water in a pot on stove and bring to a boil. Stir and cover, lower heat. Cook for 15 minutes, until water is absorbed, then remove from heat and let stand tightly covered to steam for 5-10 minutes.

While the rice cooks, stir rice vinegar and sugar in a small bowl to dissolve.

Transfer the cooked rice to a wide, shallow bowl to cool to room temperature. Cover with a damp towel so it won’t dry out. Fold the vinegar mixture into rice and fluff and fan to cool.

Use sharp scissors to cut a 1 inch wide strip from one side of the length of the nori, the cut remaining nori in half, across the 6 inch width, then slice across the half sheet to make 8 1 inch wide strips to use as “belts.”Cut the first strip of nori in half to make two 1-inch wide belts.

Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold water, you will use this to dampen your hands to handle the rice.

With damp fingers, scoop a scant 1/4 cup portion of rice and form into a rectangular rice ‘finger’ Top with a dab of wasabi and press a slice of tamago on that. Carefully wrap with a nori strip, then dampen the ends of the nori, tuck the ends underneath.

Repeat for all slices of tofu tamago.

Serve with grated daikon, ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce for dipping.