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Sushi
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i've been craving sushi lately. what are the questions to ask? and what do i look out for? i know to be careful with soy sauce (and i have my own wheat-free) and i've heard imitation crab meat is sketchy. are there other things to be wary of? and are there any chains that do a gluten-free sushi menu? thanks!

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Sushi is probably the easiest, though I have run into the rudest servers at sushi restaurants.

All the sauces are suspect, and probably not ok. Japanese cuisine uses a lot of wheat based products. All Japanese noodles are off limits, and beware the miso.

Some Wasabi is suspect, and they tend to get very offended when you ask about is thier wasabi real or not, so I avoid unless I get a straight answer.

Anything with tempura is obviously off-limits. GOD I MISS MY SPIDER ROLLS!!

Imitation Krab is totally off-limits. As far as I know, there is no good imitation crab.

That said.

All hand rolls ( rice with fish on it) are fine, though you may need to ask them to omit the dab of wasabi that some restuarants put in there. The freshwater eel is a no-no, they cook in in suace we can't have.

Lots of Maki rolls, however, are suspect. The good news is, most restaurants will list all the ingredients, though be warned many places have started drizzling sauce over the roll as a presentation item, I did have to send one back once.

Philly rolls are generally safe, beware things that say spicy or sweet ( ei: spicy tuna), as they may have things added that may not be ok.

The seaweed is safe, and the ginger should be safe as well.

I love sushi!

Also - I highly recommend the Triumph dining cards, they come in six cuisine types, including japanese, and have everything written on the back in the appropriate language. If you can get the server to read it, it is a godsend.

Elonwy

I wanted to add - now that I'm staying away from most of the sauces, sushi has actually gotten better. Fish is amazingly flavorfull, and I'm not sure I'd put soy sauce on it anymore, even if I brought mine with me.

Edited by elonwy
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I've been trying the sushi route and have gotten sick a couple of times. I have the Triumph cards though and am getting better at it :) Since the cards say to check "sushi rice ingredients", the sushi chef wouldn't give me any rice! I had to beg the waitress and explain that as long as there wasn't mirin in the rice, it was ok. The rice only had sushi vinegar(which I'm assuming is rice vinegar... and sugar) Is there anything in sushi rice that I should be looking out for? Also, with wasabi, what exactly is in it that soemtimes makes it not safe for us? The triumph card doesn't explain that so it would be great to know.

Thanks so much!!!!

Kristy

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I lived in Japan for two years and frequently make Japanese food at home so I thought I would jump in here.

I have personally never had a problem with wasabi. While it is true that most wasabi available in the states is not made from actual wasabi, it is instead made from horseradish, which does not contain gluten. You might have some concern about the extra ingredients, but here is a sample ingredient list and I don't see anything that looks problematic (unless you are lactose intolerant! who would have thought!)

Paste wasabi

Horseradish, lactose, corn oil, sorbitol, salt, water, artificial flavor, turmeric, xanthan gum, citric acid, artificial flavor (FD & C yellow no.5, FD & C blue no.1)

Powdered wasabi

Horseradish, Mustard, US Certified Color (FD&C Blue No. 1 and Yellow No. 5)

I had authentic wasabi in Japan a few times, fresh grated, and let me tell you, that stuff is AWESOME and makes what is commonly available here look absolutely pathetic. And I always thought i didn't like wasabi!

I also use mirin all the time in preparing Japanese dishes at home- but the main problem of course is anything that uses mirin probably also uses wheaty soy sauce. For mirin, the only potential problem would be the koji, the starter that is used in more authentic mirins, and I haven't heard any clear evidence that even if it contained gluten, that protein would make it through the processing.

As far as miso goes, red miso is made from barley so is no good for us, but interestingly there are some white misos that are only made from rice and soy. When I lived in Japan, I found that sushi restaurants in the Tokyo area often had a very nice white miso, but in the Kyoto area etc. they were more into red miso, so I ended up passing a lot over to my husband to eat. The safest way to enjoy miso is of course to make your own- many health food stores sell clearly labeled gluten free miso, including some non-traditional brown rice "red" miso without barley.

Another thing about sushi restaurants in the states- unless you are very lucky and live in a place with actual Japanese sushi chefs and waitors, they may be more likely to speak Chinese or Korean than Japanese (or none of the above), so those little cards with Japanese explanations may not be that helpful. (I live in Mountain View, California, near San Francisco and most of the places I have visited are not authentically Japanese... not to knock it, because I love Philly rolls etc, but just something to keep in mind)

Also, I was sick of carrying leaky little bottles of soy sauce to my sushi restaurants, and I heard about this company that sold individually sized gluten free soy sauce packages on another message board i was on. They are by a company called kari-out and you can find them by googling. They don't sell directly to normal people but you can purchase them online at http://www.restockit.com/ - I ordered them there in a big box and i am so happy with the result. (it did take a while for the package to arrive) They are high sodium, i think, but still, SO CONVENIENT! I love it!!!

If you go to a japanese restaurant, i recommend a dish called "chirashi zushi" as being both gluten free and (for sushi) more filling- it's a big bowl of rice with an assortment or sashimi and other bits on top... very tasty! (the egg may contain a little soy sauce but you can avoid eating it easily as it is a self contained block.) You can also get cold tofu with bonito flakes (dried fish, flaked) and grated ginger- make sure they don't add soy, and some other nice salads, but the extremely tasty goma (sesame) dressing will almost certainly contain soy sauce. sigh. i spent many long hours in the grocery aisles in japan reading those dresing labels, so depressing. (The cautionary on the egg extends to sushi with egg as well, and the simmered inari (deep fried tofu sacks filled with sweetened rice) undoubtedly was simmered in a sweet broth with soy sauce, so we really shouldn't eat it either.) Anything with a "cream sauce" on top may have wheat to thicken, and be careful of theme rolls with things like tempura shrimp inside, obviously. A simple mayonnaise should be ok, and I never had a problem with the typical kewpie japanese brand, but these crazy american restaurants, the creamier it is the less i trust them to hold back on the wheat! lol...

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My theory on the wasabi caution is that for a while mustard was suspect because of the vinegar, and most american "wasabi" is made with mustard. I go to sushi restaurants in little Tokyo in downtown LA, so everyone there is definitly Japanese.

I thought wasabi was perfectly fine until I got my Triumph cards, and there are numerous debates on here about it.

I love sashimi. Yum.

Elonwy

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Hi Seamaiden,

A few weeks ago I went to the restockit web site to get the small packets of gluten-free soy sauce. I couldn't tell by the web site which were gluten-free and which weren't and I e-mailed them about it and never got an answer, can you tell me exactly what you ordered??

Susan

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When I eat at Sushi places I always sit at the sushi bar so I can speak with the sushi chef himself and bypass waiters. they are always more polite and helpful than waiters,anyway, and I've never gotten sick because of it.

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Another thing about sushi restaurants in the states- unless you are very lucky and live in a place with actual Japanese sushi chefs and waitors, they may be more likely to speak Chinese or Korean than Japanese (or none of the above), so those little cards with Japanese explanations may not be that helpful.

The Chinese language and the Japanese language are written with the same characters--so I think that a Chinese waiter would be able to read a Japanese dietary-restriction card. I suspect that the same is true of the Korean language. (I'm no expert on Asian languages, but a Chinese colleague of mine has confirmed that she can read Japanese, but can't understand the spoken language.)

Ken

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Here is what you should avoid:

1. Soy Sauce

2. Anything fried or "Tempura"

3. Anything with Eel or Mackerel (unless you can be convinced they have not put soy sauce on it)

4. Anything with crab (unless you can be assured it ir real crab -- this normally happenes at really expenisive places -- 90% of sushi places have fake or gluten-filled imitation crab

5. All sushi items with "sauces" should be extensively questioned -- I RARELY get any sushi with a sauce -- too dangerous

Ok,

Having said that, the easiest things to order are

1. Sashimi -- thinly sliced sushi by itself - best cut of the fish

2. Nagiri -- sushi on sticky rice with little wasabi (normal sushi)

I also eat:

1. california Rolls (substitute shrimp for crab)

2. Philadelphia rolls (it has cream cheese in it and salmon)

3. Regular Tuna Rolls

4. Edamames -- salted and steamed soybeans (yum!)

Hope this helps...

My biggest complaint about sushi/Asian places is that they do not know which Sake's have barley and which don't -- the communication barrier really shows up in those conversations...

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Now I'm really confused.....

Two questions: 1) Do we even have to worry about sushi rice then, or is it all safe?

2)I never realized that Sake could have Barley in it.....I thought that the gluten-free"spirits" list on celiac.com had Sake as a safe drink.....HELP!

I get sick almost everytime I go for sushi but I always have Sake. Could this be the problem? :unsure:

Kristy

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Could someone answer my last post please? Pretty please?

thanks!!!!!

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Could someone answer my last post please? Pretty please?

thanks!!!!!

ok, i will try, but i must warn you that i honestly dont know. It is my understanding that Sake does not have barley in it as it seems to be made exclusively from rice. (google Sake and it will likely confirm that for you). However, the other popular Japanese beverage is Schochu- which can be made from barley and often is. I dont really drink Sake so i cant really say if it would make me sick.

as for sushi rice, i have eaten sushi several times since going gluten-free and have never gotten sick. The thing i look out for are soy sauce hidden in rolls (this has happened to me a few times, and especially in store-bought sushi like WHOLE FOODS). Hope that helped a little, sorry i dont have all the answers :)

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Ok, I think this is a case where I thought that sake may have gluten due to the addition of grain alcohol to the content. However, after looking at this article, it appears, it is distilled alcohol (which is technically gluten-free ------ though some people may be sensitive to it) so, it appears Sake is ok !!

Sorry for the confusion. Here is the article:

http://www.sake.com/sakemaking.html

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thank you all for your replies! i think eating some sushi may be one of the first things i do in the New Year. :) i didn't know you guys had written back, sometimes My Assistant doesn't work for me. thanks for helping me out!

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The info broncobux gave is the same thing that I keep in mind when eating Sushi. I usually get the Rainbow Roll to play it safe b/c it is delicious! I think it is yellow tail, salmon, and a couple other fish wrapped in avocado and rice. Sake is probably more of an acquired taste, but if you want a sweet, after dinner drink, try the Plum wines. I have had Kobai Plum--very sweet, but might help you get into other Japanese wines.

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