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      Frequently Asked Questions About Celiac Disease   09/30/2015

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Sushi Rice... Again

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This past week I went to a sushi restaurant, which I always have believed was a safe dining option for a celiac (have been since 1997). I was told that the sushi rice was not gluten free, and that the same would be true for all of the restaurants making sushi! (gasp.)

The wait person told me that it was due to the seasoning they put in the sushi rice which contains wheat. I could have a bowl of rice, but not the rice they used for their sushi. This is the first time I have ever been told that the sushi was not safe, yet there have been several occasions where I have left Japanese restaurants not feeling 100%.

Has anyone else had this experience with sushi rice? I've looked at some of the earlier postings and several said they also believed sushi to be a "go to" meal for dining out, so is this a new issue or something we have not been fully informed of in the past?

I appreciate your input. (I am new to this forum and this is my first post.)

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Not only does the soy sauce have gluten / wheat, but the artificial crab meat does as well. I'm allergic to crabs so always thought that was ok. it's not, sadly. So unfair, as Sushi is my favorite food! I also wanted to check and see if the seaweed wrappers have it as a binder, but keep forgetting to.

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It's not true for all sushi rice. Sometimes sushi rice is fine, and other times it's not. I unfortunately found out the hard way. My experience is that usually sushi is fine, but of course we can't rely on 'sometimes'.

Besides that, you have to watch out for crab (the imitation meat includes gluten) and sauces.

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Thank you for your replies.

Yes, I understand that the soy sauce and crab often have gluten, but when in doubt I often just went for a cucumber or avocado roll, and I always bring my own soy sauce.

It was the sushi rice itself that I am asking about because this was the first I had heard of this issue.

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If you really crave sushi it is very simple to make at home. Sushi rice itself is gluten-free as is nori. It is what goes into the rice that can be suspect (i.e. I have seen a few brands of rice wine vinegar that contain wheat). Then it is just a matter of using real crab, shrimp, salmon, whatever. If you use wasabi and/or miso just ensure it is gluten-free. Same with tamari.

http://www.floradawn.com/cooking/tag/gluten-free-nori-rolls/

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That recipe was gorgeous!

And you can make it even more gorgeous! I have seen such intricate detailed photos of sushi that when sliced portray patterns such as flowers or animals. Lovely. Like I said, it is easy to make. When people say they miss such and such a dish I try to encourage them to make it at home. Homemade is always better and you know precisely what goes into it. :)

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Can someone please explain to me how rice, rice vinegar, salt, and sugar can contain gluten? That's all that is in sushi rice.

I can see how it might be a problem if you're one of the rare celiacs who reacts to distilled grain vinegars, as rice vinegar sometimes has grain vinegar in it, but for most celiacs sushi rice would be fine. I bet your waitress confused "gltuten" with "glutenous rice" which is another name for sushi rice. Of course sushi rice is gluten-free like all rices.

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Can someone please explain to me how rice, rice vinegar, salt, and sugar can contain gluten? That's all that is in sushi rice.

I can see how it might be a problem if you're one of the rare celiacs who reacts to vinegars, as rice vinegar sometimes has some distilled grain vinegar, but for most celiacs sushi rice would be fine. I bet your waitress confused "gltuten" with "glutenous rice" which is another name for sushi rice. Of course sushi rice is gluten-free like all rices.

I agree! It is rather odd. However, as I mentioned above, a few weeks ago I did see a few brands of rice wine vinegar that had "contains wheat" on the bottle.

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gluten-free as is nori.

We've run into nori that was a problem. Best I can tell, the issue was that it was also processed on equipment that processed wheat - flavored products that were using wheat based soy sauce.

I wonder if the same potential cc issue might be the problem with some of the sushi vinegar that lists 'may contain wheat?'

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We've run into nori that was a problem. Best I can tell, the issue was that it was also processed on equipment that processed wheat - flavored products that were using wheat based soy sauce.

I wonder if the same potential cc issue might be the problem with some of the sushi vinegar that lists 'may contain wheat?'

That could very well be. Shared lines are tricky things. And of course products can vary from country to country.

Almost all vinegar is safe but as I discovered not all of it is. However, the bottles I saw were specialty items at an ethnic food store. No matter what it is still wise to always read the labels even though it seems safe. And as we all know, labels can change.

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I really don't think gluten in sushi rice is a universal thing like this waitress suggested. It's not like unagi, where there will always be soy sauce in the flavoring. Plus I don't react to sushi and I eat it all the time! Agreed there are gotchas like the fake crab, many of the sauces, and roe.

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Sushis rice is most definitely NOT universally unsafe. Most that I've found has in fact been OK.

richard

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Thanks all!

The waitress made it sound as if it was something in addition to the rice wine vinegar, because I tried telling her that rice vinegar is usually fine for me. She said it was another seasoning that they add to the rice. I agree with you that this was shocking, as a Japanese friend's mother had taught me to make sushi and there was definitely not wheat in anything we used.

I am glad to hear that many of you still have had positive gluten-free sushi experiences, and I will continue to ask and give sushi another chance elsewhere. In fact, now I am curious about another local place (BlueC sushi in Seattle) which has a gluten-free menu, and wonder if rice seasoning has fallen on their radar since I have gotten sick there before.

It would be a terrible thing if we had to knock another food group off of our dining out experiences!

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I have only gotten sick once eating sushi. Someone at our table ordered a spider roll and the best answer I can come up with is that the same knife was used to cut it and the cucumber roll I ordered. I generally don't order rolls - only sashimi and occassionally sushi. Never had a problem with sashimi.

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Instead of soaking the rice in rice vinegar and then fanning it dry (the more traditional way) there's now a faster way of making sushi rice that involves these little seasoning packet things. I can't think of what it is called right now. Anyway I would bet they are using that method and the stuff probably contains gluten. If I could eat gluten I wouldn't go to a place that makes their sushi rice that way anyway... Kind of a cheap/fast method.

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I felt awful for the next day when I ate sushi, and I ate it without the soy sauce though and it could of been the type of sushi? I know for a fact I wasn't eating the popular makis which contains gluten for sure

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I felt awful for the next day when I ate sushi, and I ate it without the soy sauce though and it could of been the type of sushi? I know for a fact I wasn't eating the popular makis which contains gluten for sure

Could it have been bad fish? Or cc from the knife or mat getting wheat ingredients on it?

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I have only gotten sick once eating sushi. Someone at our table ordered a spider roll and the best answer I can come up with is that the same knife was used to cut it and the cucumber roll I ordered. I generally don't order rolls - only sashimi and occassionally sushi. Never had a problem with sashimi.

That happened to me this past weekend. My husband and I went out. I ordered sashimi, sunomono and a couple of rolls. He ordered some tempura rolls and I had D all the next day. Pretty sure it was a shared knife problem. Luckily for me those trace contamination episodes don't last long.

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Can someone please explain to me how rice, rice vinegar, salt, and sugar can contain gluten? That's all that is in sushi rice.

I can see how it might be a problem if you're one of the rare celiacs who reacts to distilled grain vinegars, as rice vinegar sometimes has grain vinegar in it, but for most celiacs sushi rice would be fine. I bet your waitress confused "gltuten" with "glutenous rice" which is another name for sushi rice. Of course sushi rice is gluten-free like all rices.

The sushi chef at the restaraunt where I am currently trying to eat (;)) enlightened me to the fact that in many restaraunts, the rice vinegar added to the rice contains trace amounts of wheat to thicken it and make it more sticky. This may not be true of all rice vinegar, but you should always check with the chef where you are. Hope this helps (:

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There's a post on why sushi rice may not be safe here ():

As far as the rice is concerned you have to know the type of vinegar they use with it. I've been glutened with just a rice bowl and sashimi, turns out they were using a vinegar made for sushi rice and it had some barley syrup as a sweetner.

Also: Japanese MSG is apparently not gluten-free (although US MSG is)

And: cc is a huge problem at sushi restaurants

Although a friendly place where you can chat with the chef while he's making it and watch him work will probably be fine. They'll probably also let you check the vinegar.

And watch out for barley tea. So annoying it exists and is so popular. :(

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