Black Soybean And Vegetable “Sushi”

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Make these unconventional sushi by spreading a flavor-packed black soybean paste on tortillas. Top with a sheet of nori, the sea vegetable commonly used to wrap traditional sushi. Then pile on strips of carrot, cucumber, and red bell pepper, and roll the tortillas up. Slice them on an angle to expose pretty pinwheels with bright splashes of color. They make good finger food or a pleasing appetizer or light lunch.

NotesOrganic black soybeans have much better flavor and texture than the beige variety and are available in cans. Look for Eden brand in health-food stores, where you’ll also find the other ingredients. (Or try an Asian market for the nori and condiments.) The soybean spread can be prepared a few days in advance, but the “Sushi” taste best when freshly assembled.

20 to 24 pieces of “Sushi”



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party

Recipe Courseappetizer, cold appetizer

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, healthy, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, vegan, vegetarian

Equipmentfood processor


Taste and Texturecrunchy, light, tangy, umami


  • One 15-ounce can organic black soybeans, drained (reserve liquid)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted (Asian) sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese soy sauce (Shoyu or Tamari), plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons pickled ginger, plus more if needed
  • Chiu oil to taste (optional)
  • Sheets nori (sometimes labeled sushi nori)
  • Tortillas, 8 to 9 inches in diameter (whole wheat are nice)
  • 1 cup finely shredded red cabbage
  • 8 strips red bell pepper, about ¼ inch wide
  • 8 carrot sticks, about 1/8 inch in diameter and 6 inches long
  • 1 Kirby (pickling) cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 8 sticks about ¼ inch in diameter
  • Sprigs of watercress, for garnish


  1. To make the black soybean spread: In a food processor, combine the ingredients for the spread. Blend in enough of the reserved bean liquid (usually 1 to 2 tablespoons) to create a thick but spreadable paste. Add more soy sauce and/or pickled ginger, if needed, to give the spread an assertive taste. Season with chili oil, if you wish.

  2. To assemble the “Sushi”: Stack the nori and use kitchen scissors to trim the sheets into circles about ½ inch smaller than the tortillas.

  3. Spread 2 tablespoons of the soybean mixture onto one of the tortillas, leaving a 1-lnch border all around. Distribute ¼ cup of the shredded cabbage over the bean spread. Gently press a piece of nori on top. Spread another 2 tablespoons of the soybean mixture on the nori. Set 2 red pepper strips horizontally about 1 inch from the bottom of the tortilla. Arrange 2 carrot and 2 cucumber sticks in a cluster on top.

  4. Wrap the bottom edge of the tortilla over the vegetables and roll up tightly. If necessary, moisten the top edge of the tortilla lightly with soybean paste or water to seal. Gently press the roll to shape it into an even log. Proceed to fill and roll the remaining tortillas.

  5. To slice the “Sushi”: Set each roll on a cutting board seam side down, and use a very sharp knife to trim off the edges. Holding the roll firmly with one hand, use a gentle sawing motion of the knife to cut the roll into 5 or 6 pieces, making every other cut on the diagonal. Arrange the pieces flat side down on a platter. Garnish with watercress sprigs.

  6. Other Ideas:

  7. Instead of tortillas, use a rectangular flatbread, such as Garden of Eatin’s Thin Thin Wraps, available in natural-food stores.

  8. For a light luncheon entree, cut each roll in half on the diagonal and lean one piece against the other in a criss-cross on a plate. Accompany with a green salad tossed with Sesame-Watercress Dressing.

  9. Don’t cut the roll, and serve it as a wrap.

  10. Thin the spread with a few more tablespoons of bean liquid and use it as a dip for raw vegetables.

  11. Use a pickle instead of the cucumber.

  12. Serve the spread on water-thin rice crackers.

  13. Tear the trimmed-off nori into tiny bits and use as a garnish for grains, soups, or salads.


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