How to Style a Sushi Seder Plate

A long time ago, in a land sort of far from here, Ruckus and I hosted our first Seder together. It was about as traditional as it gets: lamb, brisket, matzah – the works. We were sort of feeling out Jewish holidays together and I think this felt like the safest way to do it. Fast-forward a year or two later, and I’m chatting with a coworker who would be celebrating her second Passover with her husband’s family. “Thank God, his mother keeps it short and serves tacos,” she exclaimed. Tacos? TACOS? I love tacos! I didn’t even know a taco seder was even possible. But it was, and it is, and we did it last year and it was awesome.

Now I can’t go back. I mean, aside from the fact that we’re all vegetarians now, the alternative seder is just kind of our thing now. One of the things that I think really seals the deal for me is the fact that I can make and eat everything on the plate. But on a more spiritual level, it really makes Ruckus and me sit down and hardcore look at the symbolism of the seder plate. There’s a lot going on there, and that’s only one part of the whole experience!

So how did we pick sushi? Honestly, it just seemed to pop into my head one day because I really like sushi. Once I started matching up the different foods to the plate, I was on a roll (I crack myself up). Plus, let’s talk about the genius of tiny servings of sake for the wine instead of full sized glasses on wine. No hangover!

First, subbed the parsley out for seaweed salad. I thought that this was a nice trade off considering that it’s green and has a chewy bitterness to it. Then, instead of salt water, we went with its salty counterpart coconut aminos (a soy sauce substitute). Instead of a lamb shank, we agreed that a nice seared tuna nigiri would do the trick. Originally we had chosen salmon since it was red (same reason vegetarians usually choose a beet to substitute for the bone), but when we saw the seared tuna on the menu, we felt it better reflected the idea of the burnt offering. Next, we have red bean paste standing in for the charoset. I have to admit that one was the hardest to come up with, but it is sweet and has a mortar-ish texture to it. As for the horseradish, what better substitute than good old-fashioned wasabi? Next, we went with a tomago (AKA custard egg) nigiri for the roasted egg.

Per our family tradition, we set our seder plate with an orange tradition in solidarity with the LGBT community. If this isn’t your family’s tradition, there are lots of other symbolic foods to choose from that may feel more authentic to you. For example, if you want a second green, you could set out roasted seaweed. In case you’re wondering, we did think of substituting the matzah, but who are we kidding? There’s really no substitute for matzah!

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