Crunchy California Rolls with Tofu

If you're into sushi, you'll love these crunchy California rolls coated with fragrant sesame seeds and crispy panko breadcrumbs. We made them vegan with a yummy filling of garlicky tofu, vegan mayo, cucumber and avocado — simply irresistible.

Crunchy California Rolls Sushi with Tofu


Nutrition per serving
Net Carbs64.2 g23.4%
of which Sugars7.7 g8.5%
Fibers5.5 g19.7%
Fats15.1 g23.2%
of which Saturates2.4 g12.2%
of which Omega 30.1 g12.5%
Proteins11.8 g25.6%
Calcium107 mg10.7%
Vitamin A36 mcg5.2%
Vitamin C4 mg5.7%
Iron2.7 mg18.3%
Potassium434 mg12.4%
Sodium955 mg41.5%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Kcal440 22%
Macro split
  • net carbs 67%
  • sugars 8%
  • fats 16%
  • saturates 3%
  • proteins 12%
  • fibers 6%
*RDA based on a 2000 kcal diet;
**Nutritional data sources: USDA, food labels.
440 per serving

Today we want to show you how to make crunchy rolls sushi, an exciting version of the Japanese makis. They combine two of our favourite Japanese foods: chewy rice rolls and super crispy panko. And we made them with a yummy tofu filling, perfect for vegans!

Crunchy rolls are basically an uramaki (a maki roll with the rice on the outside) that's been coated with toasted panko breadcrumbs. The combination of soft rice and crunchy crumbs gives this sushi a whole new feel and texture — a must-try for all sushi lovers!

You can make crunchy rolls with practically any filling you like. We chose the American California rolls as inspiration, but we replaced crab meat with tofu for a plant-based alternative. We seasoned it with vegan mayo, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil and turned it into a soft paste similar to minced crab meat.

In the recipe below, we'll show how to make these crunchy rolls step-by-step, from cooking the rice to rolling the sushi. Getting the rice right is essential for good maki rolls. So make sure you're using short-grain sushi rice and that you cook it and cool it following our instructions below.

Preparing the rice is the part the takes the longest in a sushi recipe, meaning that once it's done, your maki rolls are just a few minutes away. Get the fillings ready, arm yourself with your trusty bamboo mat and get rolling! Then, toast the panko until golden and use them to coat the sushi.

Crispy, chewy and fresh, these crunchy California rolls are simply irresistible — we hope you'll like them as much as we did. And if you have any leftovers, pack them for the next day. You'll have a delicious lunch you'll actually look forward to!


Measuring System
Firm Tofu100 g
Garlic Powder1/2 tsp
Ginger1/4 tsp
Sesame Oil1/2 tsp
Vegan Mayorecipe30 g
Sushi Rice240 g
Water300 mL
Rice Vinegar50 mL
Salt11/2 tsp
Icing Sugar (or maple syrup)2 tbsp
Nori Sheets4
Toasted Sesame Seeds4 tbsp
Panko Breadcrumbs40 g

Step 1

Rinse the rice a few times under cold water until the water runs almost clear.

Next, soak the rice in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes.

Then, drain it well.

soaked sushi rice

Step 2

Now, add the drained rice to a pot and pour in the given water. Cover and bring to a boil.

Simmer the rice without stirring it for 8-10 minutes over low heat until all the water has been absorbed.

Then, remove the pot from the heat and without removing the lid, let the rice finish cooking it its steam for 10 more minutes.

cooked sushi rice in a pot

Step 3

Once cooked through, transfer the rice into a moistened tray.

Mix vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small cup and then pour it over the rice.

Instead of stirring the rice with a spoon, use a spatula or a wooden sushi paddle to "slice" the rice, separating the chunks rather than mixing them.

This way, you won't damage the rice or make it mushy.

Keep "slicing" vertically and horizontally to incorporate the vinegar mix and cool down the rice until it is just slightly warm.

Cover the rice with a damp towel so it won't get dry.

cooling down and mixing sushi rice with paddle

Step 4

For the fillings, slice the cucumber into thin strips as long as the nori sheet.

Peel, pit, and cut the avocado into slices and drizzle them with lemon juice to prevent them from browning.

Then, rinse and drain the tofu. Squeeze out excess water and pat it dry with kitchen paper.

Add it to a blender, followed by vegan mayo, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and a generous pinch of salt. Blitz all into a smooth and creamy paste, which will be our vegan crab meat replacement.

cucumber tofu and avocado for sushi

Step 5

Wrap your bamboo sushi mat with cling film so the rice won't stick to it.

Trim off one-third of the nori sheet (which you can use to wrap onigiri or add to a miso soup), and line the mat with the remaining two-thirds', rough side up (1).

Wet your fingers and spread 150g (5.5 oz) of sushi rice evenly over the nori. Compact it with your fingers and make sure you cover all the nori.

Then, sprinkle the rice with one tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds (2).

bamboo mat lined with nori sheet
nori sheet with rice and sesame seeds

Step 6

Now, flip the nori sheet so that the rice is facing down.

Then, align the bottom of the nori with the bottom edge of the mat.

Place the filling ingredients in adjacent rows at the bottom of the nori sheet, starting with the cucumber strips, then tofu paste, and finally avocado slices.

nori sheet with cucumber tofu and avocado

Step 7

Lift the bottom edge of the mat and firmly roll the nori and rice over the fillings to form a cylinder. Press on the mat over the entire roll to ensure it keeps its shape and check that the edge of the nori is sealed.

how to roll sushi

Step 8

Next, toast the panko breadcrumbs until super crunchy and golden.

Spread them over a tray and then roll the sushi cylinder over the breadcrumbs until it's coated evenly (1).

Repeat steps 5-7 until you have used all the rice, nori, fillings, and breadcrumbs.

Finally, trim off the edges of each sushi cylinder and slice it into 6 pieces (2).

Clean and dampen the knife in between each cut for perfect slices.

Enjoy your vegan crunchy California rolls with wasabi and soy sauce.

sushi roll coated with panko breadcrumbs
sliced crunchy rolls


To toast the sesame seeds and panko breadcrumbs, spread them flat over a baking tray and toast them at 170°C (340°F) for 20 minutes.