Homemade Cauliflower-Rice Sushi Rolls

Cauliflower can be served in place of rice for lighter sushi rolls. The “cauliflower rice” is simple to prepare, especially if you can find it already diced. Otherwise, chopping up a head of cauliflower is the most labor-intensive part of this recipe.

The heart of a sushi roll is what’s inside, of course — and you can use just about anything you like, from sashimi to PB&J. It’s up to you. We’ll demonstrate the recipe with shrimp tempura. Less exotic alternatives might include smoked salmon, roasted turkey (drizzle it with gravy), sweet potatoes… The point is that it doesn’t have to be fish, much less “raw fish,” to be a sushi roll (c.f., tamago sushi).

We just recently started making these rolls at home, either with a cooked main ingredient or sashimi-quality fish — when we can find it, and trust it. So far: Salmon and freshwater eel. On the lookout for tuna next.

Sushi takes practice. The easiest way to start would be with chirashi. That’s basically sashimi donburi: your fish ingredients on top of a bowl of shari (sushi rice — short rice cooked with a bit of vinegar, if you just want to forget all this cauliflower stuff). Chirashi is a staple of Japanese work lunches. It’s a bit less lofty than a roll, even — quicker and easier to prepare. It’s like the “working stiff’s gourmet lunch.” If you can make the rice and buy good fish, you can’t screw it up.

Rolls, on the other hand, are easy to get wrong! Here’s a good video on preparing them.

In between chirashi and rolls on the difficulty scale is classic sushi: fish (usually) on top of shari. We skipped all that and just dove right in with the rolls. Got it right on the third try; this pair of sushi-roll bamboo mats made a big difference. If you like this recipe enough to make it frequently, you’ll probably want to invest five bucks in that. It’s the easiest way to make either regular or inside-out rolls.

If you follow the instructions below using cauliflower, the taste and texture of the genuine article is all there. Good luck with the seaweed and bon appetitadakimasu.


Cauliflower rice:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp salt


  • ½ lb raw shrimp
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup vegetable oil


  • Large nori (dried seaweed) sheets
  • Bamboo sushi roller
  • Soy sauce
  • Optional: Avocado, wasabi, ginger, sesame seeds, Fisherman’s Wharf Seasoning, eel sauce


Cauliflower rice:

  1. Dice the cauliflower into rice-sized pieces (or use pre-diced cauliflower).
  2. In a pot, heat coconut oil on high heat.
  3. Add the diced cauliflower and saute for three minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the salt and apple cider vinegar, stirring well.
  5. Add the milk and stir continuously as it comes to a boil. Stir until most of the milk evaporates.
  6. Carve a hole in the rice with your spoon — it’s done when you can see the bottom of the pan.
  7. Flatten rice and set to cool. You can chill it in the fridge for 20 minutes (or longer) to make it stickier, which will help with rolling.

Shrimp and batter:

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a pan.
  2. Peel the shrimp, including and especially the tails. (Note: You can leave the tails on the two end pieces of shrimp as decoration, as in the stock image above.)
  3. Whisk the flour and 1 tsp salt in a bowl.
  4. Stir in the water and egg yolk.
  5. Mix just until the batter is moist and lumpy.
  6. Soak peeled shrimp in the batter to coat. Let it relax there for a few minutes.
  7. Place a few shrimp at a time in the hot oil, keeping them separated.
  8. Fry until golden brown, about 90 seconds. Flip if necessary but don’t overcook or the shrimp will be rubbery — and we’re going to heat it again in the next step.
  9. Drain on paper towels, then keep hot on stove or in the oven/toaster oven.

Sushi roll:

  1. Place the nori on the bamboo sushi roller.
  2. Place a generous amount of cauliflower rice on top of the nori. Make sure it’s placed evenly and covers the nori completely.
  3. Place the shrimp tempura (or other sushi ingredients) in the center of the cauliflower rice.
  4. Place the other bamboo roller on top of the rice, and flip the whole thing over to make an inside-out roll (one with the “rice” on the outside).
  5. Wrap a paper towel around the bamboo rollers. Squeeze the rollers to form the roll tight. Do this at least twice, squeezing excess water out of the rice and onto the paper towel.
  6. Remove the roll from the towel and rollers, slice into bite-sized pieces (nigiri).
  7. Optional: Sprinkle with Fisherman’s Wharf seasoning, add a dash of sesame seeds and drizzle with eel sauce.
  8. Serve with soy sauce, garnished with wasabi and ginger. The cauliflower rice should be warm, the shrimp tempura warm or hot.
  9. Optional: Serve with miso soup.

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