Bell Pepper “Akami” Nigiri

Did you know you could make Akami (Lean Cut Tuna) Nigiri out of roasted bell peppers?

These bell peppers are roasted, sliced, and marinated to achieve a texture and taste very similar to tuna — how abut some vegan omakase?

Here’s How:

The first step is to roast them on a gas stove or with a blowtorch — a technique I learned during my time at Le Cordon Bleu. The high heat helps loosen the skin while retaining most of the juices. Doing this reduces the amount of time needed in the oven as well.

The second step is to roast them in a high heat oven for just 15 minutes. A short roasting time tenderizes the bell peppers just enough while keeping their structural integrity. After these two steps, the bell peppers should have reached your desired texture.

Finally, a briny marinade to infuse the bell pepper slices with a seafood-y smell and taste. After marinating overnight, the flavor of the marinade will completely replace the bell pepper taste — truly amazing!

I’ve also had success making vegan tuna with watermelon, specifically a vegan gunkan-maki sushi. I would actually say that the watermelon tuna has a better texture and mouthfeel than the bell pepper tuna. Bell peppers have some tough fibers that just won’t break down, so you will not be able to replicate that “melt-in-your-mouth” texture with the bell pepper tuna.

Bell Pepper “Akami” Nigiri

4 from 15 votes
Recipe by George L. Course: LunchCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



Akami Tuna Nigiri made with Roasted Bell Peppers.


  • 2 medium -sized red bell peppers

  • 1 teaspoon wasasbi (for nigiri)

  • Sushi Rice
  • 1 cup Japanese short-grained white rice, cooked

  • 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon Sugar

  • Marinade
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced

  • 1/4 cup kombu dashi

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 1 tablespoon mirin

  • 1 sheet dried nori, torn into large pieces


  • Roast the Bell Peppers. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. First, Penetrate the top of the bell pepper with a meat fork and use a gas stovetop or a blowtorch to blacken the surfaces of the bell peppers. The skins don’t have to be completely black, just partly (Optional: Once the bell peppers are blackened, wrap them in plastic wrap to trap the heat, which creates steam that will help release the skin. After 5 minutes in the plastic wrap, unwrap them). Place the blackened bell peppers onto a parchment-lined baking tray, and roast the bell peppers until blistered and shriveled, around 15 minutes.
  • Cut the Bell Peppers into Akami-like strips. After the Bell Peppers are roasted, let them rest for 15 minutes. After resting, start by cutting off the stem and removing the seeds. Then, cut the bell peppers into Akami-like strips. Be sure to remove the waxy part on the underside of the bell peppers.
  • Prepare the Marinade. In a pot, combine all the marinade ingredients. Bring it to a boil and pour it into a bowl. While the marinade is still hot, place the prepared bell pepper slices in. Let this marinate overnight.
  • Prepare the Sushi Rice. Take some freshly steamed rice and place it into a bowl. Add the rice vinegar and sugar and mix well — do this while the rice is still hot so the sugar will melt. To shape the rice, dampen your hands with water and shape the rice into ovals. I also prepare sushi rice in a similar fashion in my Watermelon Sushi Recipe.
  • Make the Nigiri. This Tutorial by Chef Steps explains the technique very well. Enjoy immediately!
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3 years ago