Sushi is fresh, comes in many different varieties, and can even be healthy for you! However, if you find yourself diagnosed with celiac disease, another gluten allergy, or choose to cut gluten out of your diet, it will be important for you to know the answer to the question: is sushi gluten-free?
Most sushi types which only include rice, seaweed, vegetables, and seafood protein are considered gluten-free. This is because they do not contain gluten-producing grains such as wheat. However, some varieties of sushi can contain gluten if their ingredients include anything that has been battered in wheat flour or drizzled in soy sauce.
Because sushi is a dish with so many different recipes and ingredients available, it can be hard to know which kinds are gluten-free and which are not. In this article, we’ll cover what gluten is and what ingredients in sushi recipes you should avoid if you’re eating gluten-free, as well as a few frequently asked questions on the topic!
How To Know If Your Sushi Is Gluten-Free
If you’re worried about accidentally eating a sushi variety that contains gluten, it may ease your mind to understand what gluten is, where it comes from, and which types of common sushi ingredients contain it.
Where Does Gluten Come From?
When looking for the origin of gluten and wondering how it can be in so many food products, look no further than grain!
Grains like wheat, barley, rye, and triticale are filled with a protein that helps act as a stabilizer in most foods…however, that protein’s name is gluten, and it can also cause many health issues for those with celiac disease or a gluten allergy.
Luckily, it is possible to replace most starch and flour that is made with gluten-filled wheats with other things. As long as you know which sushi recipes contain gluten ingredients, you can choose the healthiest option!
Which Sushis Have Gluten?
In order to be sure of which sushi recipes contain gluten, it can be helpful to know some common ingredients in sushi rolls. The following are ingredients that are made with wheat or grain products and are not gluten-free:
- Tempura – Tempura is a word which simply means seafood that has been fried. Usually this frying is done using a wheat flour, which contains gluten, and must be avoided by those looking to cut that protein out of their diet.
- Soy sauce – While there are some types of soy sauce that are not made with wheat flour, most soy sauce brands are, and therefore contain gluten.
- Imitation seafood – Imitation fish and crab are usually molded into a shape that resembles the seafood they are imitating. Unfortunately, the way this shape is held is by using wheat starch and contaminating the seafood with gluten.
- Crumbs and Fried Veggies – Many standard sushi recipes add a tasty crunch with breadcrumbs and fried onions. Unfortunately, that batter is usually made with wheat flour and holds gluten.
- Teriyaki Sauce, Ponzu Sauce and Eel Sauce – If your sushi has any of these sauces, they may be mixed with soy sauce or gluten ingredients.
These are the ingredients to avoid when added to sushi! However, if all your sushi contains are rice, veggies, seaweed, and real crab or fish without any wheat flour or grain material added, it may be safe to assume that the sushi is gluten-free!
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions related to the topic of sushi and gluten!
Can I Eat Sushi If I’m Gluten-Free?
Sushi can usually be eaten by those on a gluten-free diet, however, it is important to be sure that there are no ingredients like soy sauce, imitation crab, or breaded components in the sushi. These contain wheat flour or other elements that may have gluten in them.
What Sushi Is Not Gluten-Free?
Any sushi that is made with fake crab, fried seafood, soy sauce, or any other wheat grain ingredients will have gluten in it and therefore not qualify as gluten-free. However, if sushi only contains rice, seafood which has not been battered, fried, or pressed with starch, and seaweed, it is safe for gluten-free eaters!
Does Tuna Have Gluten?
Tuna is, on it’s own, gluten-free. However, tuna that has been listed as “flavored” or is part of a recipe that uses barley or other gluten-producing grains will have gluten in it and should be avoided by those with a gluten allergy or celiac disease. In sushi, as long as the tuna is not pressed with wheat starch or drizzled in soy sauce, it should be fine to eat!
Do Tempura Rolls Have Gluten?
Yes, sushi rolls that contain tempura rolls also contain gluten. This is because tempura is a catch-all term that refers to any seafood which is lightly battered and fried with wheat flour.
No matter how light the fry process is, the fact remains that anything which comes into contact with wheat flour is contaminated with gluten and unfit for gluten-free consumption.
Is White Rice Gluten-Free?
Since rice and grain are commonly mixed up, their gluten content is a valid question: however, rice that is naturally produced, like white rice, is gluten-free. This makes it a safe component of any sushi roll or dish that those with an allergy or celiac disease wish to eat!
Does Shrimp Have Gluten?
No, shrimp is an unprocessed meat, especially when used in most sushi recipes, and therefore does not contain any of the gluten protein. The only reason a gluten-free eater should avoid shrimp is if it is combined with a wheat component like soy sauce or battered and fried.
To sum everything up, no, most shrimp recipes do not contain gluten. However, if you’re looking into a popular shrimp roll that has fried elements or soy sauce, beware! Gluten comes from wheat, rye, barely, and other forms of grain that are popular in both sauces and batter. Finding a sushi roll that includes one of these ingredients means the sushi is not gluten-free.