The Unexpected Fruits You Can Use To Create Vegan Tuna

The golden age of mock foods is upon us: from the companies using fermentation to grow meat and fish to the dozens of vegan butcheries that are creating artisanal plant-based foods around the globe (via Veg News). Even so, quality vegan alternatives can be challenging to get your hands on — especially for fish. And if you're a sushi lover turned vegan, you know that veggie rolls don't always scratch that itch.

Thanks to the Netflix documentary, "Seaspiracy," the environmental consequences of the fish and seafood industry are more apparent than ever. Unfortunately, few cultivated fish products have hit the market. And although vegan fish markets aren't a thing yet either, there are a couple of unexpected fruits you can lean on to fulfill your tuna cravings. Whether making it at home or ordering out, your next sushi or at-home ahi tuna poke bowl night won't disappoint with these fruits.


Tomatoes, specifically Roma tomatoes, are a fantastic substitution for tuna because of their slightly sweet taste and vibrant red color. Roma tomatoes, or Italian plum tomatoes, aren't too juicy either. This means they'll maintain their shape and won't fall apart while you're biting into your vegan tuna nigiri — a type of sushi that is served plain, unlike sushi and sashimi. According to Plant Based Matters, there are only a few key ingredients needed for you to achieve the right flavor: smoked sea salt, thinly sliced onion, and grated ginger.

The smoked sea salt provides a charred taste that mimics real nigiri and is an integral part of the tomatoes' marinade, while the sliced onion and grated ginger are used as toppings that add to the experience and make it more like eating authentic sushi. Otherwise, the marinade is simple: soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and smoked sea salt. After boiling, peeling, coring, and quartering your tomatoes length-wise, you just marinate them until your sushi rice is done. Then, voila! Place the tomatoes on top of the rice, along with the toppings, and you have a beautiful, simple, homemade vegan nigiri.


Tomatoes work great for nigiri-style tuna, but what about all the other recipes tuna is used in? Recipes like poke bowls, sushi burritos or rolls, salads, and tuna steaks are better substituted with watermelon. When cooked, watermelons become less grainy to achieve a chewy texture that is almost identical to tuna (via Instagram), and their large size means they can be cut into different sizes and shapes to complement any style of dish. Most importantly, watermelon absorbs flavor impeccably, so all you need is the right marinade to mimic the taste of actual tuna.

The process of transforming watermelon into tuna takes time — about six to eight hours. However, most of that time, your watermelon is marinading in the fridge. Using ingredients like soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, lime, and salt, Plant You recommends leaving your watermelon in a freezer bag inside of your fridge with the marinade. Once the time has passed, you just bake them in your oven, top them with some sesame seeds, and you're done! Don't be afraid to make a big batch because your watermelon tuna can be made ahead of time and stored overnight.