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Gluten Free Sushi

15 Comments 30 August 2007

8/30/07 Every celiac should develop a taste for Sushi. Consider one blogger’s  suggestion:  “Once I was diagnosed with Celiac, sushi restaurants became a haven for my gluten free dining. It’s so much easier to ask someone if they want to go for sushi than look for other gluten free friendly dining establishments. I can just grab my bottle or packets of gluten free soy sauce and head to the restaurant.” If you are interested in gluten free soy sauce packets or bottles, check out my article “Gluten Free Soy Sauce”.

  Sushi is gluten free, but (as always) there are cross contamination issues. This same blogger continues: “Unfortunately eating sushi gluten free is not completely care-free and there are still things you need to be wary of in order to eat safely. Ask for your fish to be cut with clean utensils on a clean surface. The rising popularity of tempura rolls has increased the chances for cross-contamination here. Tell your server no crab unless they can assure you it’s real, most fake crab meat used in sushi rolls is made with wheat. Most roe (fish eggs) used to top sushi has wheat as an ingredient. Also, ask for no sauce, albacore sashimi usually comes with a forbidden sauce and many white fish are sprinkled with a gluten containing culprit. Eel (unagi) comes soaked in a sweet sauce that is a definite no-no. Double-check the wasabi, ginger and rice to make sure that there are no suspect ingredients.”

NOTE: I HAVE PUBLISHED UP-DATED INFORMATION ON THIS SUBJECT IN MY "SUCCESSFUL CELIAC’S UIDE TO UNCOVERING HIDDEN GLUTENS". CLICK ON THE TITLE  IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MORE TO THIS ARTICLE.

Please be sure to read the comment at the end of this article as well as my reply to it. This visitor seems to agree with the blogger I just quoted and has given us a specific suggestion as to how we can "double check the wasabi, ginger, and rice.

  I found three different sources extolling the virtues of the Magic Fingers Sushi Bar in Atlanta. Sorry, that’s all I discovered. Sushi does not seem to get much publicity on-line. If you are not lucky enough to live in Atlanta, please e-mail your recommendations at gfceliac@gmail.com or leave a comment at the end of this article.

  I discover two recipes for preparing Sushi at home. The first is aimed at persons who never prepared or even tasted Sushi. The second requires more experience and includes instructions for obtaining the needed supplies on-line.

 

Your Comments

15 Comments so far

  1. Pinky says:

    hello,
    as i love sushi and also have celiac disease, i took it upon myself to take part in a sushi course at the local adult education school.

    sushi rice is normally prepared with rice vinegar, the vast majority of which comes from japan, the vast majority of which contain wheat. so i would ask your local restaurant how they prepare the rice. it might not hurt.

    just for your information.

  2. Gluten Free Guy says:

    Thanks for the comment. You bring up a very important point that I ignored in this article. It’s very difficult to evaluate products that are not made in the United States. Different countries, different rules. The person I quoted in my article said that it was important to “check the rice”. I suspect that the simplest way to do that would be to ask where the rice vinegar was manufactured.
    Paul a.k.a. The Gluten Free Guy

  3. David says:

    Can one ever be certain that sushi is being prepared gluten free?
    Consider the preparation area and the utensils and the cleanliness of the preparer? How can one be certain?
    Yes, the fish and the rice and the seaweed is naturally gluten free, but what about the preparation?
    It is very difficult to be sure of what is being put forth…
    any thoughts? I would love some feed back so we can address the issue of preparation…Thanks

  4. Beth says:

    I had sushi over the weekend, and at this particular restaurant they use sauces to “spice up” their sushi menu. Most of the sauces have gluten in them. Just another thing to keep a look out for!

  5. I have found very little Sushi places that don’t mess me up a little, I’m wicked sensitive though.

  6. JFB says:

    I was troubled by the above post claiming that sushi rice is made from vinegar, which can potentially be from Japan and thus not gluten free. My local sushi place uses Suehiro grain vinegar. I found a web site (http://www.mizkan.co.uk/brands/speciality.asp#) that supplies the vinegar and lists ‘alcohol from wheat’ as one of the ingredients (2 out of 7 vinegars that they sell warn that they are wheat-derived). Does anyone have any information on these Japanese vinegars and if there really is a gluten risk? THanks.

  7. Wayne Watkins says:

    I live in Sydney Australia and have a 30 year old coeliac daughter ( yup that’s the way us and the English spell it )who was diagnosed almost from birth. I am 65 and two days ago was diagnosed as a coeliac also. Coles a supermarket chain here have lots of gluten free products, including soy sauce. The prices are higher, but that’s ok as its not for everyone. On average one in 100 people are coeliacs, but 75 % of them don’t even know it. I’m glad I found you guys as I thought that sushi would be safe. Guess I will have to learn how to make my own.

  8. Mark says:

    SUSHI IS HARDLY EVER GLUTEN FREE!! A sushi restarant is probably the worst place a person who suffers from gluten sensitivities can go! The worste part is that most would assume the fish and rice based menu to be safe. From the rediculus amounts of cross contamination with most ingredients caontaining high amounts of gluten to the rice which is made sticky with WHEAT products, please don’t be midguided. Unless your establishment is seriusly trying to offer a gluten free experience, sushi is a REALLY BAD IDEA. It is scary how much misinformation is floating around.

  9. Mark says:

    SUSHI IS HARDLY EVER GLUTEN FREE!! A sushi restarant is probably the worst place a person who suffers from gluten sensitivities can go! The worst part is that most would assume the fish and rice based menu to be safe. From the rediculus amounts of cross contamination with most ingredients caontaining high amounts of gluten to the rice which is made sticky with WHEAT products, please don’t be midguided. Unless your establishment is seriusly trying to offer a gluten free experience, sushi is a REALLY BAD IDEA. It is scary how much misinformation is floating around.

  10. Katrina says:

    The sticky rice that is used is naturally sticky, they don’t usually add anything to make it stickier. Yes, another name for it is glutinous rice but it does not contain gluten. Gluten is Latin for “glue” and well, that rice is crazy sticky so “glutinous” fits it perfectly. A great treat: coconut sticky rice and mango.
    If you stick to most raw sashimi and inform them of the allergy/sensitivity/intolerance, you should be fine (since this is simply just slabs of raw fish). The Japanese restaurants I’ve been to have been more than happy to accomodate my request. And I normally sit at the sushi bar so no funny business occurs. If you are respectful and polite, there should not be an issue.

  11. Kristine says:

    Hello,
    This past week I also heard for the first time that most sushi in restaurants is not gluten free due to the seasoning they put with the sushi rice that contains wheat. Now I’ve found this site discussing others finding the same issue and I am so disappointed that it is a common occurrence!

    So have others found other items in Japanese restaurants to be gluten free? What about the miso soup or ?

    Thanks for the info.

  12. nikita says:

    WOW! thankyou! I havent had sushi in so long and was going to have it tomorrow with brown rice, atleast i know now so i can be safe and make a different selection for my lunch
    :)

  13. Sea says:

    Here’s the thing. Rice vinegar made in japan may originally be made with some wheat. Strict labeling laws in Japan require the top 8 allergens including wheat to be listed if they are used in any way in a product. HOWEVER, this vinegar should be understood as a product of alcohol distillation and similar to how it is argued that hard alcohol that is produced by distilling a fermented grain is gluten free, that vinegar is unlikely to contain any gluten protein.

    Here’s a good article on why we shouldn’t worry about vinegar:
    http://www.enabling.org/ia/celiac/vinegar.html
    It talks about US laws and practices, but the basics of what vinegar IS (if not what vinegar is made from) should be applicable.

    I lived in Japan for two years and ate lots and lots and lots of sushi without illness, and I am very sensitive.

    The greatest dangers in my opinion come from CC with popular tempura fillings (although because of how sushi is rolled, that wheat would mostly come into contact with the rice being used for the roll), fish eggs, sauces on things like unagi, and marinated, especially cooked, fillings.

    Just as a FYI, Minako is a San Francisco sushi restaurant which is reported to have a gluten-free menu including gluten-free tempura and unagi.

    I have been to other restaurants that were aware of the gluten-free diet issues and were conservative with the vinegar issue, making special rolls with different vinegar, so there are options even for those who are concerned over this.

    You should always be able to order plain sashimi (Raw fish) and a bowl of ordinary white rice that hasn’t been flavored with the vinegar sugar solution.

    Either way, Sushi restaurants are certainly my go-to option whenever I don’t feel like the hassle of a typical restaurant experience.

    -Sea

  14. Kristi says:

    I would agree that potential cross contamination and hidden sources of gluten are abound in any Asian restaurant but if one is clear and upfront about an allergy to a food source than one should have faith in the sushi chefs, I have watched countless many across America show exemplary cultural pride in their work. I doubt you could order a salad at subway safely but I’m fairly certain the Japanese have get it right!


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  1. Gluten Free Sushi: an Update | Gluten Free: The Celiac Site - March 11, 2008

    [...] recent article “Gluten Free Sushi” evoked several interesting comments. Most sushi is naturally gluten free, but problems occur [...]

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