what sushi is safe for gluten-free
Food & Drinks

What Sushi Is Safe for Gluten-Free Diets? A Guide for You

One well-loved Japanese delicacy that has captured the hearts and tastebuds of consumers worldwide is sushi. Regardless of age, the Japanese have a special place in their hearts and tummies for this popular dish.

Requiring a few quality ingredients, sushi artfully combines them together, creating a dish that is as beautiful as it is tasty. It makes use of different components like fish (known for its omega-3 fatty acid — docosahexaenoic acid or DHA), rice, and other seafood. It offers a clean refreshing taste combined with contrasting textures for a unique mouthfeel.

If you’re sensitive to gluten, you’ll need to know what sushi is safe for gluten-free diets. Don’t fret because this article will share which types of sushi you can eat.

5 Kinds of Sushi That Are Safe for Gluten-Free Diets

Gluten is the protein that can be found in wheat products. It serves as the glue that helps food maintain its shape. It usually holds bulgur, durum, farro, rye, and semolina together.

Additionally, gluten can also be found in whole grains and most processed foods. Most of the time, gluten is indicated as wheat derivatives, binders, or additives when listed as one of the ingredients.

Those sensitive to gluten or diagnosed with gluten intolerance can experience skin rashes, headaches, bloating, and even diarrhea after consuming gluten. Hence, if you suffer adverse reactions to it, you should only consume sushi that is gluten-free for your safety and peace of mind.

For starters, here are the safe gluten-free sushi ingredients: Fresh fish, fresh crab, or King crab, seaweed or Nori, vegetables, tobiko, masago, and other roe, and sushi rice made with distilled white vinegar.

And here’s a list of sushi that satisfies your gluten-free requirement.

#1. Sashimi


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Sashimi is 100% gluten-free, making it a go-to choice for those with gluten intolerance. The reason behind this is the ingredient used in sashimi, which is fresh fish. Sashimi is a seafood sushi prepared and served without any other ingredient. It is served plain. The only time it becomes non-gluten-free is when the fish is marinated with sauces that have gluten.

The whole concept of sashimi can be understood by breaking down its actual name. Sashimi or 刺身 is made of two components: meat that needs to be caught through piercing, like a fish being caught using a hook, and the culinary method of serving meat fresh or raw.

The most common fish used in sashimi are tuna, salmon, halibut, Japanese mackerel, and seafood like squid and octopus.

Note that seafood and fish are naturally gluten-free, given that it is prepared, cooked, and served as is and without any other elements incorporated. Sashimi is made using thinly sliced fish. It is typically dipped in soy sauce and wasabi to add flavor and enhance it.

Note that regular soy sauce and low-quality wasabi are not gluten-free. Tamari is a popular, gluten-free, and less salty alternative to soy sauce while wasabi that’s made from the wasabi plant in Japan has no gluten.

#2. Nigiri


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What sushi is safe for gluten-free meals? Another option that you can order is nigiri — raw fish that is served on sushi rice. The only deciding factor on whether the nigiri is gluten-free is the vinegar in the sushi rice. If the vinegar is gluten-free, then it automatically makes your nigiri gluten-free too and safe for your gluten-free diet.

The name nigiri comes from nigirizushi, a Japanese word that means “hand-pressed sushi.” This name describes how a nigiri is prepared and served where the rice is hand-molded, and then the fish or meat is pressed using the hands and placed on the rice.

Note that the fish used as a topping in a nigiri is also fresh and raw. Nigiri is best known for its well-balanced but playful taste, where the vinegared rice and fish provide a tang of sweet, tasty, and salty in every bite.

#3. Maki


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When people think about sushi, what they’re often referring to is maki. It has vegetables, rice, and seafood rolled up in a nori wrapper. Maki rolls can also be gluten-free, as long as you use a gluten-safe alternative to soy sauce and authentic wasabi.

Usually, what you need to confirm with the food staff is the kind of crab they use in their maki rolls since there are imitation crabsticks in the market. If the restaurant uses imitation crab, there’s a high chance that it contains gluten.

Aside from seaweed, maki or makiushi can be wrapped and rolled using thin cucumber, omelet, and soy paper. These are all-natural and gluten-free, but it still pays to ask if there were no additives during preparation that might make it unsafe.

#4. California and Rainbow Rolls

Rainbow Rolls

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These two can be added to your gluten-free list. A rainbow roll is almost the same as the California roll but with raw fish or sashimi on top of it. By default, these are not gluten-free, but you can quickly request changes to make it so.

For example, if the rolls have crabsticks or crabs, ask if it is an imitation crab. If it is, request that the crab be replaced with fish like tuna, yellowtail, salmon, or halibut. You can also opt to double the avocado as an alternative to fish.

California and rainbow rolls are examples of an inside-out sushi roll where the seaweed is inside and the rice is on the outside. In Japan, these are called uramaki and are made with vinegared rice, cucumber, crab, and avocado.

#5. Temaki


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This is the most popular hand-rolled sushi with sashimi or raw fish, vinegared rice, vegetables, and other toppings enclosed in a nori cone.

Temaki is considered the fast-food version of sushi because you can conveniently eat it anywhere after purchasing it. It is also often served in large gatherings. Additionally, it is the easiest to make since you don’t need to have any rolling skills or a bamboo mat.

A Few Parting Words

What sushi is safe for gluten-free individuals? If you love sushi and are sensitive to gluten, then you’re in luck. Most sushi don’t have gluten. The only things you need to watch out for are regular soy sauce, inauthentic wasabi, and artificially made crab sticks. But these can easily be avoided or replaced with safe gluten-free options. You may even want to bring your own wasabi and soy sauce to be on the safe side.

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