If I am like many of you who are trying to avoid gluten, either because you know you have a sensitivity, have Celiac Disease, have been tested for the gene, or have an autoimmune condition – gluten can be very difficult to avoid by pure “logic” or “assumption”.
A few weeks ago I found out that Miso soup – although traditionally made with fermented soy, often has gluten in it. You can purchase gluten free varieties, but if you are going out to eat, do not make this assumption.
Often people who are trying to be gluten free will comment that sushi is “safe” if you avoid a few of the obvious items – soy sauce, tempura, dumplings, eel sauce. However, many people do not know that roe is often soaked in soy sauce, and even if you can’t see or taste the dark colored condiment, a “splash” is often added to most dressings, sauces and flavorings – think “spicy” tuna.
So, even if you have been aware of these “hidden” sources of gluten, another common ingredient in sushi rolls – imitation crab or K-rab – is processed with wheat!
Imitation crab or “surimi” which is pollack and other types of fish waste are packed with wheat starch and flavoring.
99% of all imitation crab in the U.S. has wheat starch in it.
There are very few small companies in Hiroshima that make the imitation crab without wheat, so you can find it, but you should check the packaging every time.
If you are wondering what you CAN eat at your favorite Asian restaurant, talk to your server or the manager and see if they have a gluten free menu, or if they know what substitutions they can for you to make a dish gluten free. We have been to some restaurants where the servers were very knowledgeable and helpful. They may surprise you. Often curries – think Thai or Indian are “safe choices”.
A word of caution on Tamari sauce – there are in fact varieties that are NOT gluten free – so if your restaurant carries Tamari sauce as a gluten-free option to soy sauce, you might want to make sure it truly is gluten-free. For example the black label Tamari sauce (see image below) is made by the same manufacturer that makes the gluten free variety ( ) yet the ingredients list “organic wheat” in the black label Tamari.
Ingredients: Water, Soybeans, Salt, Alcohol (to preserve freshness), Organic Wheat
Ingredients: Water, Organic Soybeans, Salt, Organic Alcohol (to preserve freshness)
There are dining guides and Apps for iPhones and Androids that can making eating out more simple. But, if you are very sensitive or know you should avoid gluten at all costs, be sure to ask. I do carry a product that helps to break down the gluten molecule for times of accidental exposure or if you just aren’t sure. It helps to decrease the severity and duration of symptoms and can give you peace-of-mind. Please contact me for more information about the enzymes, gluten sensitivity, gluten testing etc.