An easy twist for homemade sushi that transforms eggplant into Japanese unagi (freshwater eel). This vegan unagi sushi bowl explodes with umami and faux-fish flavor.
No Fuss Homemade Sushi
We are no strangers to sushi bowls. In fact, in the past we have shared a simple Vegan Sushi Bowl recipe and a Forbidden Rice Vegan Sushi Bowl. These bowls are fun, versatile, and most importantly- EASY to make.
But now is the time to take this homemade sushi meal to the next level… with faux unagi made from eggplant!
Vegan Eggplant Unagi
Unagi is the Japanese word for freshwater eel. It is often served on a bed of rice or thinly sliced on top of a sushi roll.
However, for this plant-based version, small Fairy Tale eggplants are sliced and cooked in a savory sauce to replicate the flavor and texture of real unagi. Then, it’s added to rice and other fresh vegetables to create an irresistible vegan sushi bowl.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- Eggplant – Although any eggplant can be used, we recommend Fairy Tale Eggplants for their small stature. They’re the ideal size for a sushi bowl and their meaty texture is used to mimic freshwater eel for this recipe.
- Sushi Rice – By adding rice vinegar, agave nectar, and salt to ordinary short-grain rice, sticky sushi rice becomes the base of this bowl.
- Fresh Produce – Carrot, Cucumber, Avocado, and Green Onion add a healthy crunch to this bowl. However, you can also substitute them for your own favorite sushi ingredients.
- Nori – A sheet of nori is sliced thin and sprinkled on top of the bowl to add a touch of ocean flavor.
- Unagi Sauce – Using a combination of saki, mirin, soy sauce, agave nectar, and optional kelp powder, this salty sauce is used to transform eggplant into a gooey-fishy “eel” cutlet.
FAQ & Vegan Unagi Sushi Bowl Tips:
Is this sushi bowl gluten-free?
- Yes, it can be. Simply use liquid aminos instead of soy sauce.
Can the Fairy Tale eggplants be replaced with ordinary eggplant?
- Absolutely. Any type of eggplant can be used, it will just produce a larger unagi cutlet. Additionally, you may want to double the unagi sauce recipe as well to accommodate for the larger eggplant.
Tip: How to create thicker unagi sauce
- If you prefer a thicker consistency for sauce, extra tapioca flour can be used while dusting the eggplant.
Mix It Up!
- If you aren’t in the mood for chopping veggies, you can also serve the eggplant unagi over a bed of rice for a traditional Japanese unagi don (unadon) dish.
Easy Sushi at Home
No need to shell out your hard earned money for an expensive meal out. You can enjoy delicious restaurant-worthy sushi at home with this unique plant-based sushi bowl.
Finally, if you have made this unagi bowl, we would love to hear what you think! Please comment down below and be sure to rate the recipe. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Thanks so much!
Vegan Unagi Sushi Bowl
- Prep Time: 15 min.
- Cook Time: 15 min.
- Total Time: 30 min.
- Yield: 4 Servings 1x
- Category: Bowl, Dinner
- Method: Fillet, Sauté
- Cuisine: Japanese
- Diet: Vegan
A homemade sushi recipe featuring plant-based unagi (freshwater eel) made from eggplant. This vegan unagi sushi bowl has rich umami flavor- no fish needed!
- 6 Fairy Tail Eggplants (or 1 small Eggplant)
- 1/3 Cup Sake
- 1/3 Cup Mirin
- 1/3 Cup Liquid Aminos (or Soy Sauce)
- 3 Tbsp Agave Nectar
- 1 tsp Kelp Powder (optional)
- 2 Tbsp Tapioca Flour (also called Tapioca Starch)
- 2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
- 1 Cup Sushi or Short Gain White Rice
- 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Agave Nectar
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 2 Carrots (Peeled and Julienned)
- 2 Persian Cucumbers (or 1 small Cucumber, Julienned)
- 1 Avocado (Peeled and Sliced)
- 2 Green Onions (Sliced Thin)
- 1/4 of a Nori Sheet (Slivered, Garnish)
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds (Garnish)
- Cut the tops off the eggplant and peel them in alternating strips. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise but do not cut all the way through. Make small vertical cuts in the inside of the eggplant until it lays flat like a cutlet. (See pictures)
- Combine the sake, mirin, liquid aminos, 3 Tbsp agave nectar and kelp powder. Set aside.
- Cook the rice as per the directions on the package.
- In a deep skillet, add 2 tsp of sesame oil or your choice of oil. Lay the eggplant cut side down and allow to brown over medium heat. Once brown, turn the eggplant over to brown the skin side. While this side cooks, sprinkle the tapioca flour on the browned cut side.
- When the skin side is nicely browned, pour the sauce mixture over the eggplant and allow to simmer for 1 minute. Turn the eggplant over allowing the tapioca side to incorporate into the sauce and lightly stir. Allow to simmer until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine rice vinegar, agave nectar and salt for the sushi rice. Once the rice has finished cooking, transfer it to a large bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over it. Stir to combine and cover with a clean towel. Set aside.
- Prepare the vegetables as directed above. Divide the rice into deep bowls and add the “unagi” and prepared vegetables as desired. Spoon extra sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle each bowl with shredded nori and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
- Store any leftover unagi in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. It will reheat very well either on the stovetop or in a microwave. However, we recommend making fresh rice and garnishing with fresh produce when serving.
- The equipment listed above contains affiliate links to products that we personally use, love, and recommend!
Keywords: Vegan Unagi Recipe, Vegan Eggplant Unagi, Vegan Sushi Bowl with Unagi
If you are still looking for more vegan sushi ideas, check out these other fun recipes…
- Inari Sushi with Vegan Tuna: Tofu skin sushi that is filled with “tuna” made from marinated tomato.
- Homemade Vegan Tamago: This plant-based sushi replaces the traditional egg with an omelet made from chickpea flour.
2 thoughts on “Vegan Unagi Sushi Bowl”
This was so good!! I cant believe how close it tasted to real unagi.
Thank you for such an easy recipe.
Thanks Jason! Isn’t the texture of the eggplant amazing?!