We found an idea that excited us: keto sushi. Swap cauliflower “rice” for sushi rice, mostly, and watch what you include. Lily’s not a huge fan of sushi, but the rest of us kind of are, so this will let us include her more easily. It’s best to call this inspired by Japanese cuisine; this is not what you might expect from an authentic restaurant. If I get to visit Japan, I’ll tell you how well this approximates their famed cuisine!
Ingredients I used today:
- 1 C cauliflower “rice”
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 sheet nori (sushi seaweed)
- 1/2 medium avocado
- 1/4 C Persian cucumber
- 1.5 oz cream cheese
- two slices smoked salmon
- small splash soy sauce
Method: text first, commentary with pictures later!
- If you’re starting with whole cauliflower or florets, as I did, put them in some sort of food processor and quickly pulse to chop them up. I used a handblender food processing attachment.
- Heat a frying pan to medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the coconut oil. When the oil is melted, stir in the 1 C of riced cauliflower. Cook until browned.
- Transfer cooked cauliflower to a bowl and let cool slightly. Add a small splash of soy sauce for taste and color (1/4 to 1/2 tsp). Set aside.
- Prepare the other ingredients. Measure the cream cheese, then cut it into strips. Slice the cucumber into matchsticks or other small strips. Same with the avocado.
- Optional/recommended: gently heat the nori.
- If you have one, put the nori on a sushi rolling mat – a makisu. If you don’t, use a piece of plastic wrap or a thin towel. Have the long side facing you.
- Gently spread the cauliflower rice onto the nori. Leave about 1-2 fingers’ width free of rice along the far long edge.
- Lay the other ingredients on top, near the edge closest to you, but leaving at least a finger’s breadth clear. Do not place fillings near the left and right edges; as you roll, they may move outwards. (They did for me!) I started with the fish, then put the cucumber on. I put the cream cheese on top of the fish, and the avocado on top of the cucumber, but leaning onto the fish/cheese.
- Roll the long edge over, onto the “rice”, enclosing the fillings in your hands. Using a makisu or other device, squeeze the roll gently towards you. Roll and squeeze as you go to compress the ingredients.
- Use a SHARP knife to cut. I cut the roll in half, then in halves again until I get the desired number of pieces. For today, I cut each half of my original roll into 8 slices.
- Serve and enjoy! Or refrigerate.
We rated this about 3 g of carbohydrates per 1/2 of the recipe. (see below, please!)
Okay, let’s talk experience. This was NOT like my previous attempts to make myself sushi.
Let’s start with the rice substitute. I was expecting bigger chunks; it came out really fine. But decent, honestly.
The cooking went fast enough; I think cook time will vary with your preference for doneness and your stove. I didn’t give this a full brown, because I wanted the sushi to have a big more of a bite to it.
I didn’t follow the instructions in KetoConnect’s recommendation to let this all cool. When I’ve made rice sushi, I read that it needed to be warm – not quite hot, but super close. I suspect it makes the nori a bit easier to roll without cracking; I tried to make a poached salmon maki a few weeks ago with leftovers for my parents, and the cold ingredients were a little hard to work with.
Speaking of cold, I did place the cream cheese in the refrigerator to chill in between weighing it on a food scale. I wanted it to hold together.
I also tried to follow my cookbooks’ and favorite celebrity chefs’/documentaries’ advice, to “toast” the nori. We have an electric stove, so I just moved the frying pan I’d just used for the cauliflower back a burner to cool and waved the nori over the remaining heat.
Okay, I MAY have started by placing a nori on the cooktop and turning away to look at something, first, and make a really funky, curled piece of nori that I later ate for snack before gently toasting the nori in a more TV-cook show way.
The KetoConnect recipe says that you can layer the cauliflower as thick or thin as you like, but one cup of raw-then-cooked cauliflower doesn’t go very far at all. (I’m a trained scientist; I like metric measurements and using weights rather than volumes for this kind of thing. I’ve also watched too much of The Great British Bake-off.)
I may have used my spoon at little too hard as I spread; the cauliflower compressed some.
Then I put everything I was using for a filling out on top.
Then the hard part: I just moved, and my makisu is…somewhere. In a box. Probably not the labeled kitchen tool box. My parents don’t have a makisu. I dislike the kind of cling film we have now – and I have not enjoyed using plastic wrap when I tried to make the “rice on the outside” style of sushi in the past. So…I used my fingers to roll and squeeze!
When I’d finished the basic roll, I stepped back. And felt grease on my fingers. Maybe it came from the ingredients? I don’t know. I just found it a little off-putting, and again, a difference from the sushi attempts I’d made previously. I sliced the roll in half and put it in the fridge to chill for a few minutes. I did not opt to wipe it off or anything. I just let chemistry do its thing.
Then I had fun with knives! I used one I thought was very sharp, but it got a bit sticky from the cream cheese, and I was panicking a bit because I was suddenly not so confident with my knife skills. So the last two pieces of the eight I cut from the half roll came out…squashed.
I should note that Lily’s been having enough seizure activity/spasming during dinner that I think it’s affecting her ability to chew. So I made the pieces small, to make it easier for her to chew. For myself, I’d probably have cut the whole roll into four pieces.
You can see the mess I made with this first slicing effort in my picture.
At this point, my mother appeared in the kitchen. She handed me a knife she said was the sharpest one in the room, and I was happy to see the serrated edge. That turned out okay.
Now comes the BIG freak out: confirming the carbs, because I was then tasked with packing and labeling the food to take to Lily’s place when we walk over tonight. Right now, her team has asked that we keep her on no more than 15 g of carbs per day. This is NOT EASY, of course, because it means limiting the fresh fruits and vegetables the rest of the family is eating. (We have a local – and truly lovely – farmers’ market.)
- KetoConnect’s recipe site says that a serving size is 1/2 of a roll. The nutrition label suggests that for that half roll, the net carbs come out to 4.23 g. There’s also a cool link to the MyFitnessPal site, with an invitation to look up the Ketoconnect – keto sushi item.
- The MyFitnessPal description indicates that for half a roll, there are 9 g of total carbs and 2 g of dietary fiber – and we get to subtract the fiber from overall carbs to get Lily’s net carbs. That, you notice, is a whopping 7 g per serving.
- I really hope that this is an entry error, and that it was supposed to be that level of carbs for a WHOLE roll.
- I was playing around with recipes earlier and liked what I read over at ruled.me, which was what helped me think of smoked salmon as an ingredient. That blogger helpfully included a table that matched the ingredient list to all nutritional data. We cut the 1.5 roll size down to 0.5 roll and divided the net carbs from 5.7 g to about one-third of six grams, which gave us 2 g carbs per serving. (Both recipes used avocados and cucumber; the fish and cream cheese have no carbs, and the nori carbs are locked up in dietary fiber).
My inner scientist went a little crazy at that point. I like math, okay? And this is why I posted my slightly whiny post about keto for weight loss being really different from keto for epilepsy control; a small error probably wouldn’t push you out of ketosis in the weight loss method, but if Lily is taken over her VERY LOW level of carbs, ketosis is blown, and the seizures could be worse again. If they’re even better.
I may have yelled some of this while talking to my mom about the actual carb count. We labeled it 3 g, as I said, per serving, and I put them into Ziploc bags. (We got the wrong kind, or Ziploc changed their design: these are loaded from the short edge, not the long edge, in snack size. I don’t recommend using these to pack the sushi.)
So that’s my first try at food blogging for fellow sibs and folks using keto to control seizures! All of my pictures were taken with my iPad, by me, as I worked.