Is Sushi Gluten Free? How To Order and Make It That Way!

is sushi gluten freeIt is not hard to fall in love with sushi.  Sushi is delicious, beautiful, and packed with bursts of flavor in small bites.  Many people eat sushi up to three times a day, and Japanese women and men live longer and are healthier than any other culture on Earth.  So if you are following a gluten free lifestyle, can you still order and appreciate the deliciousness that is sushi?

To make sure you do not disrupt a gluten allergy or intolerance, we are going to help you answer the question your taste buds are waiting for: is sushi gluten free?

Sushi Contents

To help you answer the question of whether or not sushi is gluten free, it can be helpful to take apart a sushi roll and take a look at each of the ingredients that make up a piece of sushi.

  1. Rice:  Most sushi rolls are filled with some rice.  Rice is a grain that is naturally gluten free.  When prepared, sushi rice is often mixed with rice vinegar and sugar.  Both of these components are free of any gluten traces.  If you make your own sushi, aim to use those gluten free ingredients, and if you are eating ask, ask your server if there are any other ingredients that have been added to the rice.
  2. Nori Sheets:  Nori sheets are the seaweed that is used to wrap the sushi in.  Nori sheets are made from algae and do not contain any gluten.  Seaweed is a safe food option if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
  3. Filling:  Of course it will depend what you put in your sushi, but generally, the filling inside of sushi is usually safe for gluten free diets.  Sushi contents such as: avocado, cucumbers, and other vegetables are free of gluten.  Also, fish and seafood such as: salon, shrimp, and tuna are free of gluten as well.  Most of the other added components to sushi that include: cream cheese, sesame seeds, and Japanese mayo are also free of gluten.  However, it is important to be sure that these contents are not cross-contaminated.
  4. Sauces:  Sauces are where things can get tricky when sushi is involved.  This is because both soy sauce and teriyaki sauce contain gluten—and these are both sauces commonly used when dipping sushi.  Additionally, the barbeque sauce that is used in sushi rolls containing eel also may contain gluten.  It is helpful when eating sushi at a restaurant to ask your server or waiter which sauces are used to prepare the rolls that you are interested in.  If you have any doubts, it is best to skip what you do not know.  However, because of the popularity of gluten free diets, there are certain gluten free sauces that you can purchase yourself to dip your sushi in.
  5. Wasabi:  Wasabi itself does not normally contain any gluten.  However, if the wasabi is commercially prepared, certain versions of it will include wheat as part of their ingredients.  Therefore, it is important to look at the ingredient list yourself, ask, or simply omit the wasabi option on your order.
  6. Tempura:  Tempura is a no-go when it comes to a gluten free diet.  Tempura is made from wheat flour and should not be consumed if you have celiac disease of a gluten sensitivity.  Make sure that you read the menus carefully at sushi restaurants, because some dishes and rolls could contain small pieces of tempura in them.
  7. Crab:  With crab, you will have to specifically ask whether or not the crab meat involved is real or imitation.  Real crab meat is going to be safe and gluten free.  However, imitation crab meat does contain gluten and should be completely avoided.
  8. Spices:  The spices used to make rolls that incorporate spicy tuna or spicy salon will usually contain gluten products.  Try to avoid “spicy” rolls in order to ensure that your meal is gluten free.
  9. Cross-contamination:  Cross-contamination can definitely be a problem while eating out regardless of what type of food you are eating.  With sushi, for instance, you run the risk of your sushi coming in contact with traces of tempura flour that could have been on a cutting board, or through a knife that was used to cut sushi containing flour of wheat.  All these factors could lead to you discovering traces of gluten in your sushi.  If you have Celiac disease or have a gluten allergy, make sure that you speak with your waiter or chef before hand to ensure that your sushi is prepared with a clean knife and cutting board.  Explain to them politely that you have a serve gluten allergy that must be taken seriously.

is sushi gluten free

How to Make Gluten Free Sushi

An easy way to have a pain-free gluten free sushi experience is to make some sushi yourself at home.  Read on to find out how.

Here are some of the best gluten free sushi making ingredients for some spectacular rolls.

  • Bamboo rolling mat (sushimaki sudare or maki su)
  • Nori seaweed sheets
  • Sushi rice (sumeshi)
  • Sake
  • Avocado
  • Mango
  • Honey
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Daikon sprouts
  • Sesame seeds (both white and black)
  • Cucumber
  • Scallions
  • Fresh sushi grade fish (consider: tuna (maguro), salmon (sake), or a cooked fish of your choosing
  • Tamari gluten-free soy sauce
  • Gluten-free teriyaki
  • Ginger
  • Wasabi

Steps:

  1. Prepare sushi filling and place in equal-sized strips for a quick and easy assemble.
  2. Take your nori seaweed and place it shiny side down on a bamboo mat.
  3. Apply a thin layer of rice on the nori.  Leave a one-inch border on the edge of the seaweed that is facing away from you.
  4. Layer your sushi contents about one inch from the border that is closest to you.
  5. Using the bamboo mat to help keep the roll intact, bring the edge of the roll over the filings.
  6. With one hand, tuck the nori in as tight as possible.   Then continue to roll the sushi up using your bamboo matt.
  7. Once tightened, give your roll a gentle squeeze to ensure that it will keep its shape.
  8. Unroll the bamboo mat and carefully place the sushi roll onto a clean cutting board.
  9. With a sharp knife, cut your roll in half, and cut that half two more times to end up with a final 8 pieces.
  10. Enjoy your gluten free sushi creation.

Eat Well Gluten-Free

Gluten free sushi is achievable in your own kitchen and at a restaurant with the proper knowledge.  For more detailed instruction on making sushi at home, enroll in this online course on how to make sushi and apply the above gluten free sushi contents.