Several people have recently asked me: “Is sushi Paleo?” and “Is there such a thing as Paleo sushi?”
After doing a ton of research and getting several opinions from leading experts in the Paleo community, I discovered that this is apparently a very controversial topic. However, I can definitively say yes, there is such a thing as Paleo sushi (and yes, you can still have sushi rice!)
Why is this such a controversial topic?
The Paleo diet has several rules that, at first glance, would immediately rule out sushi rice. For example, the Paleo diet is grain and legume free. Seeing as how rice is a grain, many people immediately rule it out.
However, there are special circumstances surrounding rice (literally).
“The reason for avoiding grains on Paleo is the anti-nutrients and gut irritants they contain. From the plant’s perspective, all of these compounds are very useful: they act as built-in sunscreen, insect repellent, and mold deterrents. That’s just great for the plant, but not so great for a person who wants to eat the plant.
In the case of rice, that’s exactly what happens. Each grain of rice has a protective outer layer, which contains all the micro-nutrients in the plant, but also all of the potentially toxic compounds. It’s like a coat of armor for the starch inside. This outer layer is darker than the rest of the grain, so when we leave it in place we get brown rice.”
Not only is rice a controversial topic when it comes to Paleo sushi, but the vinegar is too!
Mark Sisson, a well-respected expert in the Paleo community, says: “Vinegar itself, regardless of the origin, lowers the blood sugar response to a meal, improves the glucose tolerance, and even increases the satiety of a meal when taken before or during the meal. Acetic acid is the key here, so rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, and even white vinegar will work just as well as the best balsamic vinegar. But some benefits are unique to balsamic vinegar…”
But as many of you may know, the Su that we season rice with also has salt and sugar mixed with it – both of which are definitely NOT Paleo.
My solution to this was to eliminate the salt entirely and replace the sugar with honey (which is Paleo-compliant) and the results were surprisingly satisfying!
The ratio I did for making Paleo-compliant Su is 1 Tbsp of honey to 1 Cup of rice wine vinegar. I used the same amount of Su for making sushi rice as I normally do: 2 Tbsp for every 1 Cup of cooked rice.
Now onto the rest of the ingredients for Paleo sushi…
Fortunately, most of the ingredients used in sushi are already Paleo.
Here’s a quick summary of the Paleo diet, from nomnompaleo.com:
- Eat whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense, nourishing foods. Prioritize grass-fed and pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught seafood, and vegetables. Enjoy fruit, nuts, and seeds in moderation.
- Avoid foods that will harm us by causing systemic inflammation, wrecking our guts, or derailing our natural metabolic processes. Abstain from toxic, pro-inflammatory foods like gluten-containing grains, legumes, sugar, and the laboratory-concocted Frankenfoods found in the middle aisles of your neighborhood supermarket.
How to Make Paleo Sushi
Now that we have everything that makes sushi Paleo-friendly out of the way, let’s make Paleo sushi!
I decided to include a special Paleo Sushi Sauce with this tutorial. It’s easy to make and it tastes great. While our rice is cooking, we will go over how to make the sauce.
For this tutorial, you will need:
- 2 cups of Sushi Rice
- 4 half-sheets of Nori
- 1 lb. of Wild-Caught, Alaskan Salmon
- 4-5 pieces of Asparagus
- 1 Avocado
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- 1 Cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp of Cayenne Pepper
- 2 Cups of Frozen Berries (I used blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
- 1/2 Cup of Roasted Macadamia Nuts
- 1/2 Cup of Water
- Cutting Board
- Sharp Knife
This recipe makes 4-5 Paleo Sushi Rolls
1. Wash and rinse 2 cups of rice and set it into your rice cooker. Press the button to start cooking the rice.
2. Add your rice wine vinegar to a pot and place it on medium heat. Once the vinegar has warmed up a bit, add 1 Tbsp of honey to it and stir until the honey is dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool down.
3. To make the sauce, pour 2 cups of mixed, frozen berries into your blender:
4. Add 1 Tbsp of honey to the blender and 1 Tsp of cayenne pepper:
5. Add 1/2 Cup of water to the blender and then blend it all together until everything is liquefied. Pour the sauce into a sauce bottle:
This was actually my first batch of the sauce, which only used 1 cup of mixed berries and 1 tsp of cayenne – the result was very spicy! I ended up diluting the heat with another cup of berries and 1/2 a cup of water. Your results should make roughly twice as much sauce as what is shown here.
6. Pour approximately 1/2 Cup of macadamia nuts onto your cutting board and chop them into small pieces:
7. Next, blanch your asparagus and slice the avocado. For information on how to do these steps, click here.
8. At this point, your rice should be done cooking and will be ready to season and cool. If you would like more information on how to cool and season your rice, check out my tutorial on How to Make Sushi Rice.
9. Once the rice is cooled down to roughly body temperature (98.6°F or 37°C), we are ready to use the rice. Place a baseball-sized amount onto the rough side of the nori.
10. Flip the rice and nori over and place 2 slices of salmon along the center of the nori. The salmon slices should be roughly 1 cm wide:
11. Slice one piece of asparagus along the center and add it to your roll.
12. Add 3-4 slices of avocado to the roll. Try to make the avocado as consistent as possible along the center:
13. Using your thumbs underneath the makisu and your fingers to hold the ingredients in place, roll the nori/rice around the ingredients and continue to roll until the nori wraps around and meets with the rice.
14. Slice the roll into eight, even pieces:
15. Place the two end pieces, on both sides, on their side and stagger each pair of pieces by approx. 1 cm and place the arrangement onto a plate:
16. Finally, drizzle your sauce and sprinkle the chopped macadamia nuts on top of the roll:
Be sure to sign up for my newsletter for insider tips and sushi hacks! You will also receive my free sushi guide, 13 Ways to Tell if a Sushi Restaurant is Worth Trying. You can sign up here.