By Laura Miller (Taylor's Mom)
So I like to think that I am a really educated gluten free person who has been through the ropes and has a pretty good grasp on what is and what Is not gluten-free. For years now I have been eating sushi without a care in the world … that is until last weekend. We were out with a group of friends and we ordered our food. I ordered a tuna roll and brought my San-J Tamari Soy Sauce with me – prepared and ready to eat. The waiter just happened to overhear a conversation that I was having with my friends about my gluten free diet and he told me that their sushi was not gluten free. He said that the product they used to hold the rice together contained wheat. What???? My mind was completely blown. All these years I thought that I was safely eating sushi when who knows how many times I got sick and had no idea it was from the sushi.
The next morning I made it my mission to go on the internet and educate myself about what can make sushi unsafe for us eating gluten free and what to ask for when ordering. Some of these are no brainers but the big one is the rice itself.
- Sticky Rice – Some restaurants can use a special binding agent – a Japanese broth or vinegar which can contain wheat.
- Imitation Crab – Which is not crab at all. Imitation crab is processed fish parts that are dyed to look like crab. The binding agent in imitation crab is what makes it not gluten free.
- Eel Sauce – Most eel sauces are made from sugar, rice wine and soy sauce. There is a very strong chance that the soy sauce used to make the eel sauce contains wheat.
- Wasabi – This is usually made up of horseradish, food coloring and mustard. Most of the time it is also mixed with corn starch or flour containing wheat. Also depending on the food coloring or mustard that is used either can contain gluten or wheat.
- Tempura – This fish, shrimp or vegetable has been battered in flour and then fried.
- Spicy Mayo – Can contain unsafe ingredients that are not gluten free.
- Soy Sauce – Most brands of soy sauce contain wheat. I prefer to use San-J Tamari Sauce which comes in all different types of variety and even travel packs.
- Teriyaki Sauce – Contains wheat. Again, San-J makes a very tasty gluten free teriyaki sauce.
- Ponzu Sauce – Contains soy sauce which is almost always not gluten free at restaurants.
Sushi chefs don’t clean their knives or board between each roll. If a sushi chef was making a roll with tempura on it and some crumbs were still left on the counter when he made your roll you could definitely get some gluten on your roll. The knife being used to cut all the rolls could also have tempura on it. Make sure to advise the waiter and kitchen staff that you are gluten free (I always use the word allergy because it’s taken more seriously even though it’s not technically true.
Were you aware of the gluten ingredients possible in sushi? Comment below!