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Sushi?
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a few sushi places by me have been known to "flavor" the rice with soy sauce to make it taste better. Not sure if that is a standard practice or not.

Amy

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I have yet to have a problem with sushi. I get various kinds of rolls and make sure there is no soy sauce or tempura in it. Everything has been a-okay... and I'm lovin it! haha..

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Hi everyone, a new celiac here... as I happen to be Japanese and have worked at a rather fancy sushi restaurant in L.A., I thought I'd put in my two cents.

Yes, I'd say ordering sashimi and a la carte temaki (hand rolls) would be the safest option. While what I call ghetto sushi (i.e. super market sushi) often contain food additives such as MSG and corn syrup in the sushi rice, the traditional sushi rice should only contain: rice, rice vinegar (water, rice), sugar, and salt. Sometimes, chefs may add konbu (a type of seaweed) when cooking rice to add additional umami (savory taste). This is true for Japanese restaurants with Japanese chefs with traditional training.

That said, each restaurant has its own "formula". While purists of course would adhere to the general formula above, there are sushi restaurants that may decide to shake things up or have chefs that may not be traditionally trained. So it's always good to ask. Mirin (sweet rice sake), if included in the mix, usually is a non-issue if it's a good mirin. But there are "mirin-like" flavor mixes out there, so it could be a suspect. I highly doubt a reputable place would put mirin in sushi rice, however.

Most sushi restaurants in Japan as well as good ones in the bigger cities in the U.S. (e.g. L.A., N.Y., etc.) cure their own ginger with rice vinegar, sugar and salt (the one where I worked cured theirs with a bit of garlic to add some kick, but that is unusual), but most sushi restaurants in the U.S. buy their ginger in bulk, pre-cured, from wholesale dealers. Japanese manufacturers are not shy about using corn syrup and MSG (chemically derived) in pre-cured foods. So while that does not contain gluten per se, if you are sensitive to MSG or corn, it's something to keep in mind. Wasabi should be OK as well, unless the restaurant itself used wheat in re-constituting powder, which would be rare. A pre-mixed paste, as mentioned by others, may contain lactose but not gluten. Always good to ask, though.

Also in addition to things folks mentioned (tempura, sauces, broiled eel etc.), you should also avoid ikura (salmon roe) and masago (smelt roe - the little red dots sometimes added to rolls). These are also either purchased in cured form or they may cure it themselves, but either way the marinade solution would almost always contain soy sauce. Most places buy these frozen and cured from their wholesale dealers and the labeling on these may be sketchy (i.e. in Japanese and ambiguous, translated to simplified English), so even if you ask the chefs, they wouldn't REALLY know what's in them. (That could be the confusion about wasabi... they buy it pre-made but don't or can't really read the labels, which is usually thrown out with the packaging anyway.) Better safe than sorry, so ask to omit masago in your rolls (many places add masago to add texture to rolls).

Also tamago (egg omelet) would contain dashi (soup stock made from bonito flakes and konbu, but could be pre-made) and soy sauce (wheat).

In regard to miso: some varieties of red (summer) miso contain barley, whereas most white miso's don't. This really depends. You could ask about theirs or skip. You can't necessarily assume they'd be using the same miso all the time - in Japan usually summer (stronger flavor) vegetables are made into miso soup with red miso, whereas winter (gentle flavor) vegetables are cooked with white. Depending on the desired effect and material, chefs at good restaurants would blend both miso's. If the chef is from western Japan, they may prefer white miso most of the time as they prefer subtle flavors. Usually in the U.S. restaurants tend to use the same miso all the time, though. As with any restaurant, however, good chefs tend to be always on the lookout for the best purveyors/suppliers, and they switch if they find a better one. So it's best to befriend the chef so he/she would be a part of your team... I understand that's not always possible with every single place, so when in doubt, I'd order sashimi or chirashi (basically sashimi on top of sushi rice... omit ikura/tamago/masago/unagi) to go and eat it at home, so I don't offend the stuck-up sushi chef.

The eel I mention is unagi (fresh water eel), which is the more widely available in the U.S., as restaurants usually buy it frozen, pre-cooked in sauce (containing soy sauce). If you are lucky enough to live in a place where restaurants have anago (sea eel), this has a chance of not being pre-soaked in soy sauce containing marinade, so you could ask to have it without the sauce - only if they bought it plain.

Happy sushi eating! Hope this is helpful. Sorry about the long post.

Aya

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This topic keeps popping up :) I also want to add, that I live on the west coast, and grew up in the Pacific. I am a total sushi snob. I do not eat "cheap" sushi, so all of my assumptions are made based on higher-end restaurants that are on a coast or an island. I totally agree with the above posts about the pre-made or cheaper stuff being much more risky.

I also avoid miso while out, because most of the time it is made with dashi, which is a no-no. If I really want miso, I just make it at home.

I plan on experimenting with making spider rolls at home as well, which will be my most ambitious home-sushi project ever. I just miss them so much.

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I'm going to add my own two cents from my experience.

Not all imitation crab is a problem. Some brands contain fish with no dangerous gluten containing products. WHEN in doubt ask the chefs or server to look at an ingredient list. I've had rolls with good imitation crab that didn't make me sick. Also, in California bay area at least, you can get REAL crab instead of the imitation stuff.

Wasabi can contain wheat but usually doesn't. Again, ask at the particular restaurant you happen to be eating at.

Soups, even Miso, can contain a broth with barley in the form of malt in it. Again, ask!

Salad dressings occasionally contain thickeners or colors that can be a problem, Ask!

So far I've never had problems with white rice or the soy beans (Edame sp?). I've had good luck with all the raw fish rolls provided they had no sauce. Just realize, as with anything you don't make from scratch yourself, there are dangers of exposure to gluten, even when you think it's safe ; D

Good Luck!

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Additional info on pickled ginger: As I mentioned before, most pickled ginger (gari) used at Japanese/sushi restaurants in the U.S. is bought wholesale, pre-packaged in a bag. There are a few better/larger restaurants in bigger cities which make their own, but they are few and far in between.

These wholesale, pre-packaged foods contain "flavoring" or "amino acids", which restaurant employees wouldn't know to look at as wheat. It wouldn't list a source.

Upon some sleuthing in Japanese language, I came upon quite a few food manufacturers in Japan and China which manufacture glutamic acid/glutamate (one of the most common "flavoring" or "amino acids" used in Asian packaged foods; also one of the two components of MSG) from wheat.

You can view the discussion about umami, glutamate and MSG on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kikunae_Ikeda

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monosodium_glutamate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutamate

I understand glutamic acid is mostly OK if manufactured in the U.S., but if you are trying to be vigilant about being gluten-free, I recommend avoiding pickled ginger as well, since restaurant employees have no way of knowing.

If you want to know how to make your own pickled ginger, PM me and I can tell you.

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OK, it sounds like the real wasabi is the best. My question is about S&B brand. It's obviously fake, but what about the xanthan gum in it? Xantan gum has several sources including wheat. I've tried looking on S&B's web site to find out the source of their xanthan gum is. I'm going to avoid using it until I get definitive answers. Any suggestions. Even prepared horseradish has xanthan gum. Anyone know about this ingredient? Thanks.

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OK, it sounds like the real wasabi is the best. My question is about S&B brand. It's obviously fake, but what about the xanthan gum in it? Xantan gum has several sources including wheat. I've tried looking on S&B's web site to find out the source of their xanthan gum is. I'm going to avoid using it until I get definitive answers. Any suggestions. Even prepared horseradish has xanthan gum. Anyone know about this ingredient? Thanks.

Xanthan gum is also used as a substitute for wheat gluten in gluten-free breads, pastas and other flour-based food products. Those who suffer from gluten allergies should look for xanthan gum as an ingredient on the label.

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Those who suffer from gluten allergies should look for xanthan gum as an ingredient on the label.

I realize this is posted under the sushi thread, but unless someone has a specific intolerance to xanthan gum, it is generally considered safe for the rest of us. Not sure what the connection is that you're trying to make.

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Is it hard to make rolls and such at home? I'm very much... afraid to eat out at this time, so i was thinking why not make my own.. And about the miso soup, is it hard to make homemade? I do so love it, but once again, i'm afraid to go out and eat it :(

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