This kimchi sushi is when zesty & fiery kimchi meets the fresh flavors of a traditional sushi roll, resulting in an irresistible, mouthwatering, and playful fusion dish.
In this post you’ll learn:
- Tutorial video
- Why you will love this recipe
- What is kimchi sushi
- Serving suggestions
- Meal prep and storage instructions
- Clearing the Confusion between Sushi, Kimbap, and Kimchi
- Ingredients and Instructions FAQ
- More recipes like this!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Packed with wholesome ingredients like brown rice, fresh vegetables, and probiotic-rich kimchi, this kimchi roll (or kimchi kimbap) recipe is a nutritious and wholesome one.
- Satisfying and filling as it’s packed with fiber from the brown rice and vegetables.
- The colorful, fresh vegetables really make everyone want to dig in, making this recipe the perfect party food!
- A fun recipe to be cooking with friends, family, kids, on a date, or whenever you feel like making sushi!
- Easily adaptable to fit different dietary wishes, making it the perfect vegetable sushi recipe to cater to everyone!
- Much cheaper than buying sushi from a restaurant
- Perfect for packed lunches since you don’t need to warm them up
- A burst of bold and vibrant flavors, resulting in a unique fusion twist of kimchi and traditional sushi flavor that is both playful and yummy.
- This homemade vegan sushi is 100% plant-based!
What is Kimchi Sushi?
Kimchi sushi is a fusion dish that combines elements of Korean kimchi and Japanese sushi. It uses kimchi as one of the fillings in sushi rolls, along with other traditional ingredients like rice, nori (seaweed), and various vegetables. The addition of kimchi adds a tangy, spicy, and fermented flavor to the sushi, creating a unique and flavorful combination that blends the best of both cuisines.
Speaking of spicy, check out my Spicy Gochujang Ramen Noodles recipe if the combo of chili + noodle sounds yums! 😋
- Brown (sushi) rice: Nutritious whole grain base for a hearty and satisfying sushi roll. Substitutable with regular white sushi rice, which I recommend using when you’re making sushi for the first time!
- Rice vinegar: Adds a tangy and traditional sushi flavor to the rice.
- Sugar: Balances the vinegar with a hint of sweetness. Although I do not recommend it, you can substitute this with another sweetener of your choice. Just note that there might be a tinge of another flavor (e.g. a maple tone when you use maple syrup).
- Salt: Naturally enhances the overall flavor of the rice.
- Nori sheets: The essential wrap for any sushi rolls.
- Kimchi: Adds a zesty and spicy kick to elevate your vegan sushi.
- Cucumber: Fresh and crunchy element to add an extra layer of texture.
- Carrot: Adds a pop of color, some crunchiness, and a hint of natural sweetness.
- Avocado: Creamy and rich, bringing a smooth and velvety texture to the roll.
- Sesame seeds: Provides a nutty crunch with slightly bitter flavor that rounds off the flavors well.
- This oil-free vegan mayo, or soy sauce: The perfect dipping accompaniment to enhance the sushi flavors.
Prepare the sushi rice: Cook your rice according to package instructions.
Then whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, and sushi until they are dissolved.
Prepare the vegetables: Julienne the carrot and cucumber into thin strips. For the cucumber, remove the seedy, watery part. Slice the avocado into strips.
Drain the kimchi. We want as little water as possible as that will help the roll stick together better.
Mix the rice with the vinegar mixture, then wait to cool the rice: Spread the cooked brown rice onto a sheet pan, pour the vinegar mixture and mix well until every grain of rice is evenly coated.
Then leave it to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Do NOT skip this step as it is essential to make your brown rice a bit stickier.
Assembly time! Place a nori sheet, its shiny side down on the sushi mat. Then spread the rice evenly with a spoon. Be sure that the rice covers the left and right sides, and that you leave about 1 inch (2.5cm) of space at the top.
Sprinkle: Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the rice. Then press with the back of the spoon to make the rice stick better to the nori sheet.
Add vegetables: Arrange your vegetables on the lower part of the rice.
Rolling time! Lift the lower sides of the mat using your thumbs. Then roll it up until the bottom part of the sushi covers just above the filling. Then press the sushi mat with your fingers, kind of like giving it a nice little massage to tighten all the fillings.
Roll further: Continue rolling and ‘massaging’ your sushi. To seal the roll, moisten the top edge of the nori sheet with water using your finger.
Cut: Cut each sushi roll in half, then cut each half into two again, and repeat until you have about 8-10 pieces of sushi from each roll.
Serve: Serve with soy sauce, this oil-free vegan mayo (or add some sriracha to make it a sriracha mayo), or other dipping sauces of your choice.
Pair your vegan kimchi sushi with a side of pickled ginger and wasabi for an authentic Japanese touch.
As the dipping sauce, try making this 3-minute oil-free vegan mayo, sriracha mayo, gochujang aioli, or even double down on the kimchi and serve it with this 5-minute Kimchi Aioli! If you prefer to serve it the more traditional way, then go for soy sauce, or tamari for a gluten-free option.
I love making sushi with friends so I do think this is the perfect recipe to try on your next cooking sessions. It’s also a great make-ahead food for parties.
Plus, you can also prepare this kimbap for a picnic, or to take with you for packed lunches!
Storage and Meal Prep Instructions
Storage: Sushi is best consumed fresh but it will last for up to 2-3 days in the fridge, when stored in an air-tight container.
Meal prep: If you want to meal prep, I recommend cooking and preparing everything (except slicing the avocados because that should be quick and avocado turns black quite easily), but only assembling and rolling them just before you want to eat, or on the day that you plan on eating them.
When you do this, the ingredients stay fresh for up to 5 days!
Clearing the Confusion between Sushi, Kimbap, and Kimchi
Sushi is a Japanese dish made with vinegared rice and various ingredients (like vegetables but also fish and other seafood), while kimbap is a Korean dish made with seasoned rice and a variety of fillings (usually vegetables, steak, and eggs) rolled in seaweed.
They might look similar, but they have their own characteristics!
Maki is the Japanese term for sushi rolls, while kimbap is the Korean version. Typically, maki sushi only has very few fillings (usually only one at a time) while kimbap has more fillings (e.g. 7 different fillings at the same time).
Kimbap is often referred to as “Korean sushi” due to the similarities in appearance with sushi rolls, but they have distinct differences in flavor and ingredients.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish, not Japanese.
Yes, all kimchi is fermented, typically using Napa cabbage, radishes, or other vegetables, resulting in its unique tangy and pungent taste.
The sodium content in kimchi can vary depending on the recipe and fermentation duration, but it is generally considered to be moderately high in sodium due to the use of salt in the fermentation process.
Ingredients and Instructions FAQ
Yes, you can. In fact, I recommend using regular sushi rice if this is your first time making sushi. White sushi rice is sticky, making it easier to roll the sushi later on.
I have not tried this substitution but I expect that in a pinch, it will work. You probably will taste a tinge of another flavor (e.g. that apple tone when you use apple cider vinegar).
Note that white vinegar taste sharper than rice vinegar, so you might want to mix it with a little bit of water to tone the flavor down a little bit.
I do not recommend this but you actually can. It’s quite handy if you don’t want to buy a whole pack of sugar just for this recipe.
However, note that there will then be a tinge of another flavor coming from your sweetener. E.g. you have that maple-like aroma if you are substituting with maple syrup. But if you don’t mind that, feel free to substitute!
Kimchi has a spicy, tangy, and pungent flavor with a combination of umami, saltiness, and a hint of natural sweetness. It is usually made using Napa cabbage, radishes, and other vegetables.
If this is your first time making sushi, I recommend using regular white sushi rice instead of brown rice. White sushi rice is sticky by nature so that alone will save you from a lot of hassle trying to keep the sushi together.
Other tricks to keep your brown rice sushi roll together are to not wash the uncooked rice so you don’t wash the starch away, to let it completely cool down first before rolling them, to keep the rice layer thin, and to press down your sushi as you roll them.
You can use the classic soy sauce, tamari, or a vegan mayo-based sauce flavored with sriracha or wasabi.
Yes, you can make the sushi ahead of time and refrigerate it before serving. However, for the best taste and texture, it’s recommended to consume it within 24 hours of preparation.
Want More Recipes?
Prefer a deconstructed sushi so you don’t have to bother with all the rolling? Try this Rainbow Poke Bowl recipe instead!
For more sushi recipes, check out my sushi series:
For more Asian-inspired dishes, check out:
- Quick and Easy Marinated Tofu
- 35-Minute Sticky Tempeh
- The Most Authentic Vegan Rendang
- The Prettiest 5-Minute Korean Strawberry Milk
Prefer something sweet instead? Check out these popular healthy breakfast recipes!
- 5-Minute Flax Seed Pudding (3 Variations!)
- 5-Minute Frozen Berries Overnight Oats
- Baked Oats Without Banana (5 Variations!)
- Chocolate Chip Baked Oats
- Healthy Cheesecake Overnight Weetabix (2 Variations!)
For a more decadent breakfast/dessert recipe, try these:
- 1 cup of brown rice uncooked, 210 grams (if this is your first time making sushi, use regular white sushi rice to guarantee a successful recipe)
- 2 cups of water 473ml, or according to package instructions
- ¼ cup of rice vinegar 60ml (see notes for substitutes)
- 2 Tablespoons of sugar 30 grams (see notes for substitutes)
- 1 teaspoon of salt 5 grams
- 4 nori sheets
- ½ cup of drained kimchi 100 grams
- ½ cucumber julienned
- 1 medium carrot julienned
- 1 medium avocado sliced
- 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
- Soy sauce or vegan mayo for serving
- Cook the rice: Cook the rice according to package instructions.If the package instruction is missing, here is a general instruction. Add 1 cup of uncooked rice and 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan or pot. Bring to a boil.Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
- Whisk: In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until they are mostly dissolved.If there are some lumps forming or if they are not dissolving well, you can microwave them in 15 seconds increment.
- Cut: Prepare the carrot and cucumber by cutting them into thin strips. Slice the avocado.
- Slice and drain: For the cucumber, remove the seedy, watery part by slicing them. Then drain your kimchi (or keep the kimchi liquid to use as a dipping sauce). We want to remove as much water as possible as this will help us roll the kimchi so that everything holds together.
- Cover: Do a taste test to check if the rice is cooked. Once it’s done, remove from heat and cover to let it steam for 5 more minutes so the rice won’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan or pot.
- Mix: Spread the cooked brown rice onto a large plate or sheet pan, and pour the vinegar mixture over the rice. Mix well until the rice is evenly coated.
- Cool: By now you probably cannot wait to start rolling your sushi, but first you have to let the rice cool down to room temperature for about 10-15 minutes, so it will become stickier. Do not skip this step since unlike the regular sushi rice, brown rice isn’t naturally sticky!
- Spread: Once your rice has cooled down, place a nori sheet shiny side down on a sushi mat. Using a (rice) spoon, spreading the rice thinly and evenly on the nori sheet, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of space at the top. Be sure that the rice also covers the sides.
- Sprinkle: Sprinkle half a Tablespoon of sesame seeds over the rice. Then press with the back of the spoon to ensure the rice sticks to the nori sheet.
- Add: In the lower part of the rice, arrange some cucumber, carrot, kimchi, and avocado.
- Roll: With your thumbs lifting the lower side of the mat, and your other fingers pressing the filling gently so they stay in place, roll up so the bottom side is just above the filling. Press the sushi mat with your fingers (kind of like giving it a massage) to tighten them.
- Roll further: Continue rolling and ‘massaging’ with the sushi mat. To seal the roll, moisten the top edge of the nori sheet with water using your finger.
- Repeat: Repeat rolling the sushi with the remaining ingredients.
- Cut: Cut each sushi roll in half, then cut each half into two again, and repeat until you have about 8-10 pieces of sushi from each roll.
- Serve: Serve with soy sauce, sriracha mayo, or other dipping sauces of your choice.
- If this is your first time making sushi, I highly recommend using regular sushi rice instead of brown rice. White sushi rice is sticky, making it easier to roll the sushi later on.
- If you don’t have rice vinegar at home, you can use another type of vinegar, keeping in mind their flavor profile.
- So for example, you might taste that apple tone when you use apple cider vinegar. If you’re using white vinegar, you might want to mix it with a little bit of water to tone the tanginess down a little bit.
- I do not recommend substituting sugar with a natural sweetener but you actually can. It’s quite handy if you don’t want to buy a whole pack of sugar just for this recipe.
- Just note that there will then be a tinge of another flavor coming from your sweetener. E.g. you have that maple-like aroma if you are substituting with maple syrup.
- Do not wash the uncooked rice so you don’t wash the starch away, keeping the stickier
- Storage: Sushi is best consumed fresh but it will last for up to 2-3 days in the fridge when stored in an air-tight container.
- Meal prep: If you want to meal prep, I recommend cooking and preparing everything (except slicing the avocados because that should be quick and avocado turns black quite easily), but only assembling and rolling them just before you want to eat, or on the day that you plan on eating them.
- When you do this, the ingredients could stay fresh for up to 5 days.
- The calorie information is calculated based on using brown rice, excluding the serving/dipping sauce.