What Sushi is Gluten Free? Know before Ordering

  • Not all sushis are gluten free
  • Some sushis contain gluten owing to the marination with soy sauce and other ingredients
  • There is a possibility of cross-contamination during prep
  • You can bring your gluten free soy sauce or ask for a gluten free soy sauce at the restaurant while ordering sushi.

What sushi is gluten free? Does the term gluten free bring the image of sushi to your mind? Well, sushi is one of the best choices for a gluten free diet, but you need to be sure that your gluten free sushi is gluten free!

Sushi sold in random restaurants and fast-food joints may have slight traces of gluten due to possible cross-contamination. Therefore, you cannot randomly order sushi at a restaurant, thinking it is gluten free. Instead, you need to discuss it with the chef before ordering or bring your gluten free soy sauce to be entirely sure.


This article will learn more about what sushi is gluten free and how to order gluten free sushi at a restaurant.

Different Types of Sushi

What Sushi is Gluten Free

The typical image sushi conjures in your mind is a rice cake filled with fish, meat, or vegetables. But, there are many variations in sushi. Therefore, before you understand the problem of gluten cross-contamination, it is essential to understand the different types of sushi available.

Sashimi

Sashimi is seafood served with different sauces like soy sauce or Wasabi. It can be delicate and thinly sliced fish, or other seafood served plain without any marination. Sashimi is the best sushi to pick if you are gluten-allergic.

Nigiri

Nigiri is a dish made with sushi, rice, and raw fish. Raw fish is served over marinated sushi rice. If it is ensured that the marination used is gluten-free, you can pick this sushi dish.

Maki

Maki rolls are the standard form of sushi ordered everywhere. These are seafood, meat or vegetables rolled in-between sushi rice and wrapped inside an edible nori wrapper. Nori is nothing but seaweed and is completely safe for a gluten-free diet. 

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These generally are marinated with soy sauce which may not be gluten free. So if you want to order maki rolls, you need to let the chef know about your gluten allergy in advance.

Uramaki

Uramaki rolls are like maki rolls; the only difference is that the edible nori is wrapped around the filling in the center, followed by rice around it. But, again, one needs to ask the chef about these rolls being made with gluten free ingredients to be entirely sure.

Temaki

Temaki is hand-rolled sushi, where all the ingredients are added inside a cone and eaten. The ingredients and marinations used in Temaki might contain gluten, so it is essential to ask the chef.

What Type of Sushi is Gluten Free?

What Sushi is Gluten Free

It is impossible to ascertain that a type of sushi is always gluten free. There is always a possibility of cross-contamination while preparing and marinating. Certain gluten ingredients can quickly come in contact with sushi and contaminate it. 

But, if you look at a sushi type individually, some varieties do not have gluten free as per their recipes:

Sashimi

We learned above that sashimi only contains fresh fish. Of all the sushi types, this one rates the highest on the chart of gluten free sushi. But, one needs to check the rice vinegar used. If it is gluten free, then this one is a safe option.

Maki rolls, uramaki rolls, and temaki

Maki rolls, temaki, and uramaki rolls may or may not contain gluten, depending on the filling ingredients. Therefore, there is no sure-shot way of saying that these are gluten free as it is dependent on the filling inside.

Sushis that are not Gluten free

There are many varieties of sushi that are not gluten free. We shall discuss these in detail so that next time you go to the restaurant to have sushi, you can avoid ordering these.

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California Rolls

These are sold as less expensive sushi in many fast food outlets. Mostly, these contain fake crab (surimi) instead of real crab. This mock crab meat is made by grinding white fish with starch and other ingredients to taste like crab.

But, the starch used in surimi contains wheat. In addition, most places list “California Rolls” as “Contains Gluten,” so people with gluten allergies should avoid these.

Tempura-dipped vegetables and meats

Sushi containing tempura-dipped vegetables and meat should be strictly avoided as tempura is made with wheat flour. It is easy to identify tempura-based sushi rolls as they have a distinct deep-fried and coated appearance.

You may find some restaurants serving gluten free batter for their tempura, but ensure that they are labeled as “gluten free.”

Sushi containing marinated ingredients

Sushi made with marinated vegetables, fish, or seafood contains soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. These sauces mostly contain wheat and are not gluten free. You also get gluten free soy sauces, but not all restaurants use them. 

Sushi dipped in Wasabi

Wasabi is a spicy green paste served along with sushi. Many restaurants do not use real Wasabi as it is made from a particular vegetable not grown everywhere. In places where Wasabi is not found, restaurants use horseradish, mustard, and other ingredients containing wheat starch. 

You can either bring your 100% real wasabi container or ask the restaurant owner about the purity of the Wasabi served.

Sushi seasoned with Rice Vinegar

This may sound authentic and good for you, but some rice vinegar does contain small traces of gluten.

You can request the chef to make your sushi from unflavored rice.

How to order gluten free sushi?

Sushi restaurants are aware that their cuisine is generally preferred by people who want to avoid gluten in their diet. They are careful about gluten cross-contamination. 

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Most sushi restaurants have an open/see-through sushi bar where you can watch your chef prepare your sushi from your table. 

Furthermore, it is an excellent idea to let the chef know that you are incredibly allergic to sushi. Informing in advance will help them be very careful with your sushi preparation. 

It is also a good idea to order sashimi instead of sushi. Sashimi is delicate slices of fish served with Wasabi or soy sauce. These are not marinated. So, you can bring your soy sauce or Wasabi and eat without any cross-contamination concerns. Some restaurants may stock gluten free soy sauce or Wasabi for celiacs.

Takeaway

Sushi is an excellent choice for celiacs and those suffering from gluten allergies. But, there is no guarantee that the sushi being served at your favorite restaurant is made from gluten-free ingredients. 

Restaurants might think that small traces of gluten are hardly a reason for concern, but for celiacs, sometimes, even a tiny quantity may lead to health issues.

So, if you want to be entirely sure of the sushi you are ordering at a restaurant, it is better to speak to the chef and let them know about your gluten allergy. 

It would be best if you also considered taking your gluten-free Wasabi and soy sauce to enjoy your meal without any concerns. In that case, request sushi made with non-marinated rice.

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About the Author: Johnny

I am the senior editor and writer of Gluten Free Heroes, before that, I wrote for various well established online magazines about food and health. I love working out, traveling and eating healthy.