Sushi is awesome! Most people know that already, but is it gluten free? Great question. In this post, we’ll find out the answer plus go over absolutely everything you need to know to enjoy sushi the gluten free way!
So Is Sushi Gluten Free?
It’s a common question, and the answer is…it depends! Sushi is traditionally made with rice and fish, which are naturally gluten free. However, there are many types of sushi that include ingredients with hidden gluten, such as tempura or soy sauce.
So what can you eat if you’re looking for gluten free sushi? Your best bet is to stick with sushi that is made with rice and vegetables. Some good options include cucumber rolls, rainbow rolls, and tuna rolls.
As always, it’s best to call the restaurant before you arrive to avoid being disappointed. Ask if they can use gluten free soy sauce or even have a separate gluten free menu. If they act like they have no idea what you are talking about, call somewhere else. These days you have choices. You’ll be able to find a sushi restaurant that IS knowledgeable about food allergies.
Common Sushi Ingredients
To get started, let’s take a look at some common sushi ingredients to see if they are really gluten free.
Is Sushi Rice Gluten Free?
Yes! Sushi rice is made with Japanese short-grain rice, seasoned with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Is Nori (Sushi Seaweed) Gluten Free?
It sure is! Nori is a type of seaweed that is commonly used in sushi. It is made from dried and pressed algae, and is a safe option for those that cannot have gluten.
Is Wasabi Gluten Free?
Yes, wasabi is a gluten free food as well! Wasabi is a type of horseradish that is commonly used as a condiment in sushi. It is made from the root of the wasabi plant, and is naturally gluten free.
Is Soy Sauce Gluten Free?
This is where things get a bit tricky. Traditional soy sauce is made with wheat, and is not gluten free. However, there are many brands of gluten free soy sauce on the market. If you’re unsure about a particular brand, be sure to check the label or contact the company directly.
Is Tempura Gluten Free?
Nope. Tempura is a type of fried food that is commonly used in sushi. It is made with wheat flour and is not gluten free, so be sure to avoid any rolls that contain tempura.
Is Imitation Crab Gluten Free?
Imitation crab is a type of seafood that is made with fish and wheat flour. As a result, it is not gluten free. Be sure to avoid any rolls that contain imitation crab.
What about Sashimi?
Sashimi is a type of sushi that is made with raw fish. It is a safe option for those looking for GF sushi.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the most common ingredients in sushi, let’s take a look at which sushi rolls to avoid and which are safe to eat.
Which Sushi Rolls are Not Gluten Free?
As mentioned before, there are many types of sushi that contain gluten. These include surimi (fake crab meat), tempura, soy sauce, and anything that is breaded or fried.
Here are some popular examples of sushi rolls that are not gluten free.
This roll is usually not gluten free because many sushi restaurants use imitation crab. Imitation crab contains binders that are often not safe for people with gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease. Some sushi restaurants do use real crab, however. If that is the case, then this roll IS safe to eat.
This unique roll is made with rice, nori, grilled eel, cucumber, crab sticks, and thinly sliced ripe avocado placed on the top of the roll to mimic the scales on a dragon. It is most often made with imitation crab or even shrimp tempura. This makes it a no-go for those following a gluten free diet.
Best Gluten Free Sushi Rolls to Order
Okay, enough bad news. Let’s focus on the positive! We’ve talked about everything we can’t have (boo), so which sushi is gluten free? The good news is there are several yummy options to choose from. Here are six of the best gf sushi rolls that you can order:
Tekka (or tuna) rolls are made with raw tuna and rice. They are a safe option for those who are looking for gluten free sushi.
Cucumber rolls contain simply rice, nori, and cucumber. Nothing off limits here!
Like tekka rolls, salmon rolls are made with raw fish and rice. Caution – Ask how the salmon is prepared. It’s sometimes marinated in soy sauce which is sadly off limits.
Spicy Tuna Rolls
This classic sushi roll is often gluten free. Spicy Tuna Rolls are made up of three things: sushi rice (steamed rice seasoned with sushi vinegar), nori (seaweed), and sashimi-grade tuna. So far so good!
You will need to ask about the seasoning. Many times, this is simply Sriracha and sesame oil, both of which are gluten free. Sometimes, however, soy sauce is added which does contain gluten, so it’s important to ask. Overall, though, this roll is perfect for those who like a little bit of spice in their sushi.
Rainbow rolls are another classic roll that can be modified for those following a gluten free diet. The main ingredients in a rainbow roll are raw fish, rice, nori, and crab meat. As long as real crab meat is used, this roll is fine to eat.
The vegetarian roll is made with sushi rice, nori, and a variety of vegetables. It is perfect for those who don’t eat meat or fish and is a very healthy and delicious roll.
So, there you have it! No more wondering, “is sushi gluten free?” Now that you know exactly what to look for, you can enjoy your next sushi meal with confidence (and a hefty helping of the gluten free soy sauce you brought in your bag)!
Need More Restaurant Help?
Eating out is one of the hardest and most frustrating parts of living with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. To make things a little easier, I have put together several different restaurant guides. Check them out below.