A huge platter of sushi…not something you expected to see when I said I was embarking on 30-days of super strict Paleo eating, right? Well, surprise! Despite the ominous-sounding restrictions–no grains! no dairy! no legumes! and so forth–the Whole30 is actually an opportunity to celebrate abundance. I’ve eaten some of the best meals of the last year in the past 12 days, and I’m discovering new favorites as each day passes.
The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that redefining the word “treat” is imperative if I want to eat healthy long-term. The old treats like cookies or flourless chocolate cake are dime a dozen. Whole30 treats give me more to savor: steak, plantains, and tasty organic vegetables aren’t always on the menu chez moi, but during this month I’ve made sure to put some extra-delicious meals into rotation so I have something to look forward to each time I pass up a nibble of trail mix or a birthday cupcake at work. When every meal begins with a plate filled with a rainbow of tasty options, it’s hard to feel at all deprived or tempted to look elsewhere for sustenance.
Since my roommate Emily moved in and taught me how to make sushi, I’ve made rolls a few times using rice. This month, I had to come up with an alternate solution. Knowing how versatile cauliflower can be, I stuffed my rolls with simple cauliflower rice to keep things Paleo-friendly. Read on to see how easy it is to make a Whole30 sushi feast!
Cauliflower rice is a quick and easy substitute for sushi rice. If you have a food processor, a few quick pulses to a cupful of florets will do the trick. If not, grating cauliflower or finely chopping by hand is a bit more time-consuming but ultimately worth it for the great rolls in your future.
I used salmon to make these rolls, but you should certainly pick your favorite type of fish and splurge. If the Whole30 has you saying “no” more than you’d like…it’s time to say yes and have a big old treat yo’ self dinner. The pieces in the foreground are for nigiri and the long, thin strips in the back are what I used for these maki.
Experiment with fillings. Mango, some type of pickled vegetable, or a sauce like spicy Paleo mayonnaise would be a great addition to these rolls.
Paleo Sushi - Makes about 8 rolls, serving 2 people
Total time: about 1 hour
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 head of cauliflower
1-2 tablespoons rice vinegar (make sure it does not contain sugar)
You may have extra “rice”- save it to make fried rice with other leftovers!
8 nori (sheets of roasted seaweed)
8-10 ounces sashimi grade salmon, cut into thin strips the same length as nori
1 tablespoon water or rice vinegar
Filling Ideas: peel vegetables and slice into thin strips
1 medium carrot
1/2 medium cucumber
1 small baked sweet potato
crushed red pepper flakes
spicy Paleo mayo
There’s some multitasking involved in this recipe if you’d like to save yourself some dishwashing later on. In a large skillet, melt coconut oil over medium heat. While it heats up, slice cauliflower into florets. Add half the florets to the bowl of a 7-cup food processor. Pulse about 10 times or until the cauliflower becomes tiny and fluffy like rice. Pour the processed cauliflower into the skillet and cook, stirring and flipping regularly, until it is just starting to turn golden (5-7 minutes). Process the second half of the florets while the first half cooks. When the cauliflower rice is done cooking, remove it to a large mixing bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons rice vinegar. The vinegar will give the cauli rice some traditional sushi rice flavor while helping it clump up to make more solid rolls.
To make a roll, place one nori sheet on top of a sushi rolling mat. Using a rice paddle or spatula, put about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of riced cauliflower on the nori and spread it into a rectangle on the half of the nori closest to you (see picture). Place salmon and other fillings on top of the cauliflower. Put a little rice vinegar or water into a small bowl and place near your rolling mat.
When you’ve finished adding your fillings, use the end of your sushi mat to roll up the sheet with everything inside. When you’ve almost reached the end of the nori, use your finger to lightly brush the end of the nori with water or vinegar. This will help seal the roll. Finish rolling and press to ensure the roll is tight. Move the roll, sans mat, to a cutting board and cut into six pieces. If desired, top with spicy mayo or red pepper flakes. Serve plain or with coconut aminos in place of soy sauce.
Enjoy your sushi, and enjoy the satisfaction of sticking to the Whole30 while giving yourself a huge treat!