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- Sushi is one of the most popular foods in Japan
- Sushi is typically gluten-free
- Some ingredients used to make sushi may contain gluten
- Be careful where you order your sushi if you have gluten intolerance
Sushi has been a key part of Japanese food culture for thousands of years. But is sushi gluten-free? This article has the answers.
Sushi prepared using the traditional way is gluten-free. However, some of the ingredients added to sushi may contain gluten. Also, there’s the risk of cross-contamination with gluten during the preparation process. So, you need to be extra cautious when ordering sushi.
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Sushi remains one of the most popular Japanese dishes. And, it’s easy to see why. It’s delicious, healthy and it can be prepared to suit almost any budget.
And over the past couple of years, its popularity has also spread across different parts of the world.
So, what exactly is Sushi? Well, sushi is a type of dish that’s prepared using cooked rice, fish and sushi vinegar.
And while most people associate sushi with raw fish, rice remains one of its most important ingredients.
Regardless of how the sushi has been prepared or the type that you order, there’s a high chance that it will contain rice. Rice is a common food product in Japan and many Japanese people appreciate it having been brought up taking it.
Sushi can be prepared with the use of seafood. However, most sushi consumers want it to boil down to a variety of rice.
Gluten is a type of protein found in grains like wheat and barley. It acts as the binding element that helps to keep these grains together and maintain their shape.
While gluten is mainly found in whole wheat-based and barley products, you can also find it in processed foods, especially those made with wheat-based ingredients.
And, the majority of people can consume foods with gluten-containing ingredients without experiencing any issues.
However, people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity will experience a couple of serious and adverse reactions if they consume gluten.
For instance, if you have gluten intolerance and you unknowingly consume gluten, it can trigger a serious autoimmune reaction, leading to inflammation in the gut, among other adverse health issues.
It is not uncommon to find people living with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity without the knowledge that they have it in the first place. Closely connected to this is the observation that some people live with non celiac gluten sensitivity.
If you have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or any closely connected condition, you do not have a choice but to observe a gluten free diet. Failure to do this will compromise your health in both the short and the long run.
This begs the question, is sushi gluten free?
Does Sushi Have Gluten?
So, is sushi gluten free? Is sushi naturally gluten free? And are products such as sushi rice gluten free? What about sushi rolls? If you have gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance or celiac disease, you need to make sure that every type of food that you eat is gluten-free.
In light of this, if you are looking to try sushi for the first time, you may be probably asking yourself, is sushi gluten-free and if you will be taking gluten free sushi? Does sushi have gluten? Is sushi safe to consume if you are following a gluten-free diet?
Traditional sushi is gluten-free. Also, the majority of conventional sushi dishes like Uni sushi and nigiri sushi are gluten-free, since they are primarily made of raw seafood, dried nori sheet and vinegared rice. And, these ingredients don’t contain gluten.
But, some types of sushi may have gluten and the consumers may not be informed about this. Also, certain types of ingredients used to prepare sushi may contain gluten. So, if you are planning to eat sushi in a sushi restaurant, you need to confirm whether the sushi they are serving is indeed gluten-free.
Ingredients in Sushi that May Have Gluten
Traditional sushi is gluten-free. But despite sushi gluten free being common, some of the ingredients used to make it may contain gluten, making it unsafe for people with gluten intolerance. Some of the gluten-containing ingredients in sushi may include:
Most sushi chefs use sushi roe or fish eggs to garnish sushi. And, in their natural form, fish eggs should be gluten-free. Unfortunately, most places don’t serve them in their natural form. Instead, they contain soy sauce and you may not easily get gluten free soy sauce..
And as you may probably know, most types of regular soy sauce are made of wheat. And as we pointed out earlier, wheat contains gluten.
So, if you are on a gluten-free diet and you want to try out sushi, make sure you ask the sushi restaurant or the sushi chef preparing your sushi to leave out the roe. Alternatively, you can opt for sushi made with gluten-free soy sauce or make your own sushi.
Sushi vinegar is one of sushi’s primary ingredients. It gives the rice its unique aromatic taste. And, traditional sushi is usually prepared using rice vinegar, which is gluten-free.
But, some sushi restaurants use white sushi vinegar, which is considerably cheaper than rice vinegar and more accessible than rice vinegar. Unfortunately, if the white sushi vinegar has been made from wheat-based alcohol, then it may contain gluten, making it unsafe for people on a gluten-free diet.
Tempura batter is yet another ingredient found in sushi. And, unfortunately, it’s made using wheat flour. So, sushi rolls that have tempura batter are not gluten-free.
Unfortunately, most California rolls are made using tempura batter. Consequently, they are not safe for people with any form of gluten intolerance or those following a gluten-free diet.
As its name suggests, imitation crab is made to imitate the taste, texture and flavor of real crab meat. And, some sushi restaurants and sushi chefs use imitation crab, instead of real crab meat, since it’s cheaper and more accessible.
However, imitation crab usually contains ingredients, some of which contain gluten. Again, sushi rolls that feature imitation crab are not gluten-free, meaning they are not safe for individuals with gluten sensitivities or unsuitable for people on a gluten-free diet.
At the same time, the preparation of imitation crab requires that one avoids cross-contamination with gluten.
In order to be on the safe side when it comes to the cross-contamination of sushi with gluten, choose the right sushi restaurant. There are many sushi restaurants in the market, and choosing the right one will not be difficult.
Wasabi is yet another popular sushi ingredient. It’s used as an accompaniment due to its spicy, earthy flavor. And, pure real wasabi is naturally gluten-free. The problem is that most eateries don’t use pure, real wasabi, since it’s quite expensive.
Instead, they opt for imitation wasabi, which usually contains wheat starch as binding ingredients, meaning it’s not gluten-free. So, sushi rolls made with imitation wasabi will cause problems to individuals with gluten intolerance.
Sushi Cross-Contamination with Gluten
Apart from the ingredients used, gluten can also find its way into sushi through cross-contamination and affect naturally gluten free sushi..
For instance, materials like knives, forks, gloves and mats used during its preparation may also be used to prepare gluten-containing foods and dishes. And as a result, the sushi will be cross-contaminated with gluten.