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Is sushi gluten-free?

Sushi is a delicious and flavorsome go-to meal enjoyed by many. But is it safe to eat for people with coeliac disease, or those who have gluten sensitivity?

Although sushi can’t be labelled entirely as ‘gluten-free’ due to the many different ingredients and the ways it can be served, it’s still possible to enjoy the delights of sushi on a gluten-free diet.

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You’re probably thinking, what’s the harm; it’s just rice and fish, right? But like anything involving a gluten-free diet, it’s important to look carefully at the ingredients which have been used. For example, soy sauce and faux crab meat can contain gluten. 

An easy way to enjoy gluten-free sushi is to make it yourself at home. Here are some of the best gluten-free sushi ingredients for making spectacular sushi rolls and ensure you don’t disrupt a gluten allergy or intolerance:

  • Bamboo rolling mat (sushimaki sudare or maki su)
  • Nori seaweed sheets
  • Sushi rice (sumeshi)
  • Tamari gluten-free soy sauce
  • Gluten-free teriyaki sauce
  • Avocado
  • Mango
  • Honey
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Sesame seeds (both white and black)
  • Cucumber
  • Spring onion
  • Fresh sushi grade fish (consider: tuna (maguro), salmon (sake), or a cooked fish of your choosing
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When dining out, it’s really important to make sure you let the person serving you know that you have a gluten allergy and that it must be taken seriously. Here are some top tips to bear in mind when ordering sushi at a restaurant on a gluten-free diet:

  • When ordering rice, ask the person serving you if any other ingredients have been added.
  • Ask which sauces are used to prepare the rolls you’d like to order. Both soy sauce and teriyaki sauce, which are commonly used when dipping sushi, contain gluten. However, many Japanese restaurants now stock their own gluten-free soy sauce and if you’re still unsure, it’s possible to take your own.
  • When ordering wasabi it’s important to look at the ingredient list yourself, ask, or simply forget the wasabi option on your order.
  • Tempura is made from wheat flour and should not be consumed if you have coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity.  Make sure that you read the menus carefully at sushi restaurants as some dishes and rolls could contain small pieces of tempura.
  • When ordering crab, you’ll need to specify whether or not the crab meat involved is real or imitation. Real crab meat is safe and gluten-free.  However, fake crab meat does contain gluten and should be avoided.
  • Try to avoid “spicy” rolls to ensure your meal is gluten-free.

Now you're equipped with the knowledge, we're confident you'll have no problems ordering gluten-free sushi at a restaurant or making your own at home. 

From 8th-14th May, Coeliac UK - the UK’s charity for those with coeliac disease - is hosting ‘The Gluten Freevolution’ week to campaign for better gluten-free food, whether you’re eating out or grabbing something on the go.

For more details on the campaign or to get involved visit their website.

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