Rumaki | Paleo appetizer from Recipe Renovator

I’m not sure what possessed me to think of rumaki, the possibly-Hawai’ian pupu platter appetizer popularized by Trader Vic’s in the 60s. I know Betty Draper served it in one episode of Mad Men. But as I was brainstorming recipes for paleo month, I thought about this tasty little tidbit: teriyaki-marinated chicken liver and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon. It had all the potential to be perfectly paleo. So I came up with a reduced-sodium and paleo version of “teriyaki” sauce (see notes in recipe) and gave it a try for a tapas party we were attending, adding smoked paprika to bring in a Spanish element. I used jicama instead of canned water chestnuts. Raves all around.

I have been experimenting with adding organ meats to my diet after reading multiple books about the paleo diet and its healing properties, especially for auto-immune conditions. My doctor believes that migraine and Meniere’s are on the auto-immune spectrum. Organ meats are also excellent for our brains and to heal the mitochondria inside our cells.

The migraine-friendly diet is soy-free, as well as free of high-sodium and fermented foods. My book will have a recipe for “make your own bacon” so migraine peeps sensitive to bacon of any kind will still be able to make this appetizer. In the meantime, you can buy pork belly and have the butcher slice it like prosciutto.

I use Whole Foods 365 reduced-sodium uncured bacon, Wellshire Farms, or Pederson Natural Farms paleo bacon. I have tested all of these products for myself and they do not trigger migraine attacks for me. Make sure you test them if you are prone to migraine attacks.

I put in a touch of coconut aminos for soy-ish flavor, but you can omit it for the lowest-sodium and unfermented version. The chili pepper sauce is salt-free and comes from Trader Joe’s, but you can use a version of my hot sauce (made with sweet peppers to temper the heat) if you don’t have access to Trader Joe’s. I give you suggestions below for the leftover jicama and liver if you have it. I had a few pieces of marinated liver and I just added them to the baking sheet for the last 10 minutes or so, then put a toothpick in them to serve once they were cooked.

Suitable for:

low-sodium, paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, reduced-sugar diets

Not for:

migraine, vegan, or vegetarian diets

You might also like:

Classic rumaki from Epicurious (Note: I tried their broiler method and things caught on fire. Not recommended.)
Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Rumaki | Paleo appetizer from Recipe Renovator

Rumaki, re-imagined

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 6 mins
Total Time 1 hr 21 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 24 appetizers


  • 1 small jicama mine was 1 lb (425 g)
  • 0.25 pounds chicken livers from high-quality chickens (see notes)
  • 12 slices bacon (reduced-sodium, uncured) for migraine diet, use thinly sliced pork belly
  • 1 tbsp dark toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (use white vinegar for migraine diet)
  • 1 tbsp chili pepper sauce
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 1 tbsp ginger (fresh) grated or minced
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos omit for migraine and low-sodium diets
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed


  • Clean chicken livers by rinsing thoroughly. Allow to drain. Cut away any connective tissue, fat, or pockets of dark blood. (I know, it's gross. Sorry.)
  • Cut chicken livers into 24 small pieces (they shrink when cooking). The most important thing is that they are reasonably uniform in size.
  • Peel jicama and slice into 1/2" slices. Use a small round cookie cutter or apple corer to cut 30 circles. If you do not have an appropriate cutter, make uniform squares.
  • Finely slice the remaining jicama to create a salad, or reserve for another use.
  • Cut bacon slices in half crosswise to give you 24 pieces.
  • Soak 24+ toothpicks for at least one hour before baking. (I put in extra just in case one breaks or if I counted wrong.)
  • Whisk remaining ingredients—sesame oil through garlic—in a bowl.
  • If desired, remove 2 spoonfuls of the marinade before adding the livers, and toss with the leftover jicama for a little side salad.
  • Add the jicama circles and chicken livers to bowl, stir to coat, and refrigerate for at least one hour, up to overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 375F/190C/gas mark 5. Place rack in middle of oven.
  • Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil. If you have cookie racks that will fit inside, set that on top. A broiler pan is also perfect for this.
  • Forty minutes before serving, craft the rumaki by placing one piece of liver on narrower end of one bacon slice. Top with one piece of jicama. Roll up as tightly as possible. Secure with a soaked toothpick. You may find your liver pieces are too large, so cut them in half. That's why it's good to have extra bacon and jicama on hand.
  • Bake rumaki for 30-40 minutes, turning every 15 minutes, until bacon is crispy. If you're not sure the liver is cooked, unwrap one to test. It should be just slightly pink inside.
  • Let cool a few minutes before serving.


Per piece:
  • 33 calories
  • 2 g fat
  • 1 g saturated fat
  • 0 g monounsaturated fat
  • 0 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 18 g cholesterol
  • 60 mg sodium (46 mg without coconut aminos)
  • 23 mg potassium
  • 1 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 1 g sugars
  • 2 g protein
  • 1 Weight Watchers Points Plus
Another use for leftover liver: sauté it in a pan with some garlic and sliced green onions. Use coconut oil or rendered bacon fat until cooked through, but still slightly pink inside. When sautéeing liver, I just keep cutting it open until I'm happy it seems cooked but not too dry.