Super easy Umeshiso Roll combining tangy pickled plums and aromatic shiso leaves to get you rolling your homemade sushi successfully ASAP!

Chopsticks holding umeshiso sushi from the right.

In this post you’ll learn:

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • A delicious healthy vegan option packed with nutritious ingredients, making them a guilt-free and flavorful choice.
  • This recipe is beginner-friendly, providing step-by-step instructions that will have you rolling like a pro in no time.
  • Whether you’re packing them for lunch or taking them on a picnic, these rolls are conveniently portable and make for a satisfying meal wherever you are!
  • Forget the sushi restaurants – with this recipe, you can create your own restaurant-quality rolls at home without breaking the bank.
  • Feel Good, Eat Good. By making these ume shisho maki rolls, you’re not only treating your taste buds but also nourishing your body with wholesome ingredients. Win-win! 🏆
  • Embark on a culinary adventure with these ume shiso rolls which would make you feel like you’re traveling to Japan 🎌 (well, sorta…), and have fun exploring the world of vegan sushi!

What is a Umeshiso Roll?

The term Umeshiso Roll can be broken down into ume shiso roll. “Ume” comes from “umeboshi”, a Japanese pickled, salted, and fermented apricots/plums. “Shiso” is a type of Japanese herby leaf. And when you have both “umeboshi” and “shiso” leaves in sushi, you get this ume shiso roll!

What does Ume Shiso taste like?

Ume Shiso tastes refreshing as the sharp, salty, and sour flavor of umeboshi is combined with the minty, citrusy freshness, and slight sweetness of shiso leaves.

Definitely a must-try combination since this combination is also often found in Japanese seasoned rice recipes!🍚 But when you make it at home, definitely be careful not to put too much umeboshi since it has a strong flavor. Remember that a little goes a long way!

Three square stone plates of umeshiso rolls on a white marbled background.

What is Umeboshi Exactly?

Ume” or “umeboshi” is a traditional Japanese delicacy of pickled and fermented apricots or plums. Botanically, they come from an apricot tree (prunus mume) but they are often referred to as plums. However, they are different from the common plums and apricots you usually find in supermarkets. The raw ume plums are yellow or green in color, but red shiso leaves (see below for a more detailed explanation) are usually added which changes the color of these apricots/plums to reddish.

These umeboshi taste very salty and sour, so a little goes a long way. They are often used as a filling for onigiri rice balls or served with rice in bento boxes.

You can find ume in Asian or Japanese supermarkets, or get them online. If you can’t find them, you can substitute them with Neri Ume (Japanese umeboshi paste). However, note that Neri Ume usually contains artificial flavorings, added sugar, and thickeners.

What are Shiso Leaves?

Shiso leaves, also known as perilla leaves or ooba, are a type of herb that is very popular in Japanese cuisine, although it is also often used in Korean and Vietnamese cuisines. The leaves are vibrant green or purple, with a slightly fuzzy texture and serrated edges. Shiso leaves have a distinct aroma and flavor, often described as a combination of mint, basil, and citrus.

They add a refreshing and aromatic element to dishes and are commonly used as a garnish, in sushi or sashimi, or incorporated into salads, stir-fries, and pickles. Red shiso leaves are also used in making umeboshi (yes, the same pickled plums we were talking about), where they are layered between the salted plums to enhance their flavor and color.

You can find these leaves in Asian or Japanese grocery stores. If you are into gardening, you can also plant one in your garden since I read that they are actually quite easy to grow!👩‍🌾

Chopsticks holding umeshiso roll from above, dipping into soy sauce.

Ingredients

  • Regular sushi rice: The traditional, classic short-grained rice essential to any sushi recipes. This is the ingredient that makes sure that your rice sticks together well.
  • Brown rice: A healthier alternative to white rice, adding a nutty flavor and extra fiber and protein to the rolls.
  • Rice vinegar: A key ingredient that adds a tangy flavor to your sushi rice.
  • Sugar: Provides a touch of sweetness to balance the flavors in the rice.
  • Salt: Enhances the overall taste of the rice and brings out its natural flavors.

And now the fillings!

  • Umeboshi or ume: Japanese pickled plums that are intensely sour and salty, adding a unique and tangy flavor to the rolls.
  • Shiso leaves: Also known as perilla or ooba leaves, these aromatic and refreshing herbs impart a minty, basil-like taste to the rolls.
  • Nori sheets: Thin seaweed sheets used as the outer wrapping for the sushi rolls, providing a delicate umami flavor.
  • White sesame seeds (optional): Adds a subtle nutty flavor and crunchy texture to the rolls.
  • Avocado (optional): Sliced avocado can be added for a creamy and buttery element to complement the other flavors.

Note that I did not use avocado and sesame seeds in the pictures for the blog since I want the pictures to look as simple as the recipe actually is. However, I have tested the recipe using these two ingredients so if you would like to add them, rest assured that they pair well!

Raw ingredients of umeshiso roll in small bowls with labels.

Step-by-step Instructions

Cook the rice: Combine sushi rice, brown rice, and water in a saucepan. Simmer until cooked.

Prepare rice vinegar mixture: Mix rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved.

Stirred up rice vinegar mixture for sushi.

Prepare fillings: Cut out the shiso leaf stems. Slice the avocado, if using.

Season the rice: Let the cooked rice steam, then transfer to a tray and flatten. Pour the rice vinegar mixture over the rice and mix until coated. Allow to cool.

Sushi rice after being seasoned with a plastic rice spoon on the right.

For complete tips and tricks to make the best Brown Sushi Rice (using whole grain brown rice), check out this Brown Sticky Rice recipe post!

Assembly time: Place nori on a sushi mat, spread rice, and then shiso leaves, umeboshi, and optional avocado. One roll should contain 3 shiso leaves and 1 to 1.5 pickled plum. Be careful not to put too much pickled plum as that could overpower the taste of the sushi very quickly! Remember that it’s better to have too few umeboshi than too many!

Roll the sushi: Roll tightly and seal with a bit of water (using a wet finger to brush it) if needed.

Slice and serve: Cut rolls into bite-sized pieces. Serve on its own, or with some mayo for a twist.

Serving Suggestions

Serve these ume shiso sushi rolls immediately for the best, most fresh flavor. I usually serve them plain without soy sauce since the umeboshi already has quite a strong flavor.

However, if you’d still like to pair it with a dipping sauce, it pairs well with my 3-minute oil-free mayonnaise, or try my Yuzu Aioli Sauce for a citrusy twist. You can also add sesame seeds or additional shiso leaves for garnish to make it even more visually appealing!

For some sweet pairings, check out my Green Tea Mochi Ice Cream for matcha-flavored dessert. Or my Nutella Mochi Daifuku Balls which can easily be made sugar-free using my Homemade Vegan Nutella!

And if you’re looking for the perfect occasion to make this recipe, I can recommend this for parties, picnics, or lunchboxes. They are great finger food that is also packable in lunchboxes, making them an easy, portable option to enjoy both good weather and good food with your loved ones!🌞💖

Storage and Meal Prep Instructions

Storage: Ume shiso rolls are best enjoyed fresh, or for a maximum of 2 hours. The shisho leaves wilt quickly once rolled up in the sushi, which is a pity given that they are quite hard to find and expensive. So this is definitely one of those recipes that you want to consume as soon as possible.

Meal prep: To meal prep, prepare the seasoned rice and the fillings (such as mincing the umeboshi and preparing the shiso leaves) ahead of time. Store them separately in the refrigerator in airtight containers until ready to use, for a maximum of 4 days.

When you’re ready to assemble the rolls, follow the rolling instructions. You definitely only want to roll your sushi just before you consume them so they can stay as fresh as possible!

Two chopsticks grabbing umeshiso sushi from the corners.

FAQ

Where can I find Umeboshi and Shiso leaves?

You can find both ingredients in your Japanese or Asian grocery stores. Getting them from an online store is also an option if your local Asian grocery stores don’t sell them. However, note that the shiso leaves might be pricey since they have to be kept fresh.

Another option to get shiso leaves is to plant them in your garden since they are quite easy to plant!

Can I substitute the umeboshi?

If you cannot find umeboshi, you can opt for Neri Ume, which is umeboshi in a paste form. Note that they often contain additional sugar, thickeners, and preservatives so if you don’t want them, try searching for umeboshi online.

Can I substitute the shiso leaves?

It’s actually very hard to substitute shiso leaves so I do not recommend doing so.

Nine umeshiso sushi with a chopstick on the bottom right.

Looking for More Vegan Sushi Ideas?

For more vegan sushi recipes, check out my maki roll recipes such as this Kappa Maki (cucumber roll) recipe or this Shiitake Roll recipe. If you are a fan of fermented food, this Natto Maki (fermented soybeans roll) recipe, or this Korean Kimchi Sushi (fermented cabbage) recipe might be your next favorite recipe!

Speaking of Korea, check out this super pretty 5-Minute Korean Strawberry Oat Milk recipe to pair your sushi with! And if you don’t want to bother with rolling your sushi, check out this deconstructed sushi recipe aka Rainbow Poke Bowl. P.S. It uses my super flavorful 5-Minute Marinated Tofu recipe that’s always in rotation for lunches and dinners!

Want to go even further on your culinary adventure and try an authentic recipe from Southeast Asia? Check out my Jackfruit Rendang recipe where I veganize my mum’s rendang recipe (Indonesian curry-like dish, traditionally made with beef). Or if you’re a fan of tempeh (or if you would like to try another fermented soybean recipe), check out my version of this Indonesian Sticky Tempeh recipe.

Easy Umeshiso Roll (+ Step-by-Step Photos!)

Close-up of an umeshiso sushi roll held by chopsticks.
Super easy Umeshiso Roll combining tangy pickled plums and aromatic shiso leaves to get you rolling your homemade sushi successfully ASAP!
Jem @ The Fruity Jem
Cook Time 25 minutes
Cooling Down Time 15 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Serving Size 2 servings

Ingredients

Sushi Rice

  • ½ cup white short-grained sushi rice 110 grams uncooked
  • ½ cup brown rice 105 grams uncooked, feel free to sub with regular sushi rice as above for a more traditional recipe
  • 1.5 cups water or according to package instructions
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar 60ml (see notes for substitutes)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar 30 grams (see notes for substitutes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 5 grams

Fillings

  • 35 grams umeboshi Japanese pickled plums, 12 pieces
  • 24 shiso leaves perilla or ooba leaves
  • 4 nori sheets cut into halves to make 8 sheets

(Optional) More Fillings

  • 2 Tablespoons white sesame seeds optional
  • 1 medium avocado sliced optional
  • vegan mayonnaise for serving

Instructions

Cook the rice and prepare rice vinegar mixture

  • In a medium pot or saucepan, add the sushi rice, brown rice, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or according to package instructions.
  • While the rice is cooking, whisk in the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until they are mostly dissolved. If there are clumps, microwave in 10-15 second increments. Another option is to bring them on low heat on the stove, but note that you don’t want them to be boiling.

Prepare your fillings

  • Remove the tough stems of the shiso leaves.

Mix rice with the sushi rice seasoning

  • The rice should be done by now. Cover the pot or saucepan with a lid to let the rice steam, for about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer rice to a large plate/dish or baking sheet and gently flatten out the rice. If your plate/dish/baking sheet is metallic, layer with some baking paper so the metallic flavor won’t mess with the acid from the rice vinegar. Note that this step is important to get a sticky but fluffy sushi rice so please do NOT skip this step.
  • Pour the rice vinegar mixture over the rice. Then mix evenly using a rice spoon or spatula. You would want to mix them using a ‘slicing’ motion until all grains of rice are coated with the rice seasoning, for about 2-3 minutes.
  • Now let the rice to cool down for about 10-15 minutes.

Roll, roll, roll!

  • Once the rice cools, place half a nori sheet with its shiny side down on the sushi mat.
  • Spread the rice evenly on the nori, leaving an inch (2.5cm) at the top. Be sure to fill in the left and right sides completely. The more traditional way is to use your hands to do this but I prefer just using (rice) spoon.
  • Fold three shiso leaves, each into half lengthwise, then place them about an inch (2.5cm) from the bottom. Then take out the pit of your umeboshi plum. Tear out each plum into 4-5 parts, then spread them on top of your shiso leaves in a horizontal line. One sushi roll should use 3 shiso leaves and 1 to 1.5 plums.
    Be careful not to put too much umeboshi since they have a strong taste and can overpower the recipe that way. Remember that it's better to have too few than too many umeboshi!
  • (Optional) If you are using avocado, add it on top of the umeboshi. Also sprinkle your sesame seeds over the sushi rice now, if using.
  • Roll the sushi tightly using the sushi mat, applying gentle pressure by pressing the sushi roll (and sushi mat) to keep it secure. If needed, seal the roll by brushing the top edge of the nori using a damp finger (wet, but not dripping with water).
  • Repeat the process with the remaining nori sheets, sushi rice, and vegetables.
  • Then slice them into bite-sized pieces, about 8 pieces per roll. It's easiest to first slice the roll into two halves, then continue slicing each piece into two (see process shots above in the post).
  • Serve the Umeboshi Sushi on its own, with vegan mayo, or soy sauce for dipping!

Notes

Ingredients Notes:
  • Brown rice: You can also use only white short-grained sushi rice instead of combining it with brown rice. This is the traditional method but will result in lower fiber and protein content.
  • Rice vinegar: Diluted white vinegar (2 parts white vinegar to 1 part water) can be used as a substitute. Other clear vinegars may impart a subtle flavor, such as an apple-like aroma with apple cider vinegar so proceed at your discretion.
  • Sugar: You can substitute with any flavorless sweetener of your choice. Note that sweeteners with intrinsic flavors like honey or maple syrup will slightly alter the taste of the rice (e.g., honey’s taste or maple syrup’s mapley flavor), so keep that in mind when using them.
  • Vegan mayo: Make your own oil-free vegan mayonnaise using my 3-Minute Oil-free Mayonnaise recipe!
  • Avocado and sesame seeds: I did not use avocado and sesame seeds in the pictures for the blog since I want to keep it as simple as possible. However, I have tested the recipe using these two ingredients so if you would like to add them, rest assured that they pair well with the umeboshi and shiso leaves!
 
Storage and Meal Prep Notes:
  • It is best to consume these umeshiso rolls fresh, or at least within 2 hours.
  • If you want to meal prep, you can make the sushi rice and prepare the vegetables separately, but only roll the sushi when you want to consume them. This way, the shiso leaves and nori sheets would stay as fresh as possible.
 
Equipment Notes:
  • Sushi mat: If you don’t have a sushi mat, you can also use a clean and thick kitchen towel.

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Recipe Rating




One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I didn’t know that it literally just contains 2 main ingredients🤯

    When making, definitely be careful with the ume. We ended up using 1 plum per sushi roll cos the taste was too strong that it could overpower the shiso very quickly. Sushi rolls look less aesthetic than the pictures since we had to spread the ume really thin. But otherwise, 10/10 for the recipe! Thanks!