I’m a sushi fiend… I could probably eat my body weight in sushi. No joke! When I first went gluten free, you can bet that the question, is sushi gluten free? Was hot on my mind!
As with most dishes out there, it is not as simple as yes or no. There are numerous factors involved. However, you can still enjoy delicious gluten free sushi, you just need to know what to loom for. That’s where I come in!
Places Gluten Hides in Sushi
The short answer to your question of “is sushi gluten free” is yes… but not always. Sushi may appear simple, but there are several sneaky ingredients you need to keep an eye out for!
Gluten in Sushi Rice
The rice they use to make sushi is unique to sushi. It can contain gluten depending on the vinegar used. My friends at BeyondCeliac.org do a good job explaining the in and out of the sushi rice. The bottom line: if they don’t use rice vinegar and use something like white vinegar, it may be wheat based.
Your best bet is to ask. From what I have seen, most use rice vinegar, so it should be ok, but I have heard from folks that they have occasionally experienced restaurants using wheat based vinegar. Make sure you ask!
Gluten in Soy Sauce
Soy sauce contains gluten, but the good news is there is gluten free soy sauce available. Almost every sushi joint I’ve been to has had gluten free soy sauce which is good.
However… keep in mind that they typically prepare with soy sauce, or rolls such as smoked eel are cooked with soy sauce. So just because you have gluten free soy sauce at the table, does not mean your sushi roll does not have soy sauce somewhere. Make sure you ask!
Tempura Varieties Containing Gluten
Many sushi rolls have tempura in them. That is basically fried shrimp or veggies. I used to love tempura, but that crusty deliciousness is wheat based so watch out! I’ve also seen tempura crumbs on sushi to give it a crunch, so make sure you read carefully.
Imitation Crab Meat Containing Gluten
There is gluten hiding in the imitation crab meat. There are a few companies such as Trans Ocean that have gluten free imitation crab meat, but it can be hit or miss and from what I have experienced, it’s mostly miss. This one caught me off guard when I went gluten free. Who would have thought there would be gluten in imitation crab meat?
There is a difference between imitation crab meat and lump crab meat. I don’t want to insult your intelligence, but one is real and one is not. To tell the difference, imitation crab meat is red and lump crab meat is all white. Or imitation crab meat = bad. Lump crab meat = good.
Gluten in Sushi Sauces
You often see sauces drizzled over rolls when they start to get fancy! Sauces such as eel sauce are not gluten free. So keep that in mind. They may use teriyaki sauce which more than likely has soy sauce in it. With sauces you simply need to ask. If in doubt just leave them out!
Gluten Cross Contamination with Sushi
If you have Celiac Disease then you are most likely concerned about cross contamination. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you and I know this is going to always be on your mind. A couple places you need to look are in the sushi prep areas. Are they using clean knives, changing gloves, washing hands, changing bamboo rollers, and using new cutting boards?
Make sure you let them know. There may be a language barrier too, so be as clear as possible. Take a look at their prep areas and make the call that best fits your needs. That’s really all you can do.
Types of Gluten Free Sushi
As long as the sushi rice is gluten free, most of your basic sushi rolls will be gluten free. Your tuna rolls, salmon rolls, Philly rolls, you know all those great cheap go to sushi rolls.
If you are like me, you are probably a fan of sashimi. Sashimi is just the fish. It’s my favorite. I really enjoy Salmon Sashimi. With it just being the fish, you can always count on sashimi being gluten free. But sashimi can get pricey!
Gluten Free Sushi Key to Success
The key here is to be aware! Know what to look for so you can enjoy your gluten free sushi and won’t have to wonder, is my sushi gluten free? You may need to shop around and find a restaurant that knows what they are talking about, but once you find that spot, it will be your go to sushi joint for a long time!
Let me know about your sushi experiences in the comments below. I’d love to hear any good or bad experiences. What went well or what did you miss that we all might want to know?
Thanks for stopping by!