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Gluten Free Japanese Food: A Guide To Safe And Delicious Gluten Free Japanese Options!

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Japanese food is such an iconic cuisine consisting of foodie favourites. Japanese food can be naturally gluten free if you are aware and careful. Not all Japanese food is gluten free, unfortunately, especially due to the heightened use of soy sauce containing wheat. However on a positive note for us with gluten intolerances, Japanese cuisine utilises a lot of rice, seafood and meat which is naturally gluten free. You are sure to find something to eat in the ever popular Japanese cuisine, and I know from experience that a lot of Japanese food can be altered to be naturally gluten free. An easy fix is using gluten free soy sauce instead of traditional soy. Another item to look out for is miso paste, although you can get plenty of miso pastes that are gluten free, some do contain wheat.

Gluten Free Japanese Food You Must Try!


Gluten free onigiri Japanese food

Onigiri are Japanese rice balls that can be made naturally gluten free. The rice is seasoned with rice vinegar, salt and sugar and then rolled into a triangular ball and wrapped in nori (seaweed). The balls are usually filled with an array of ingredients such as tuna, salmon, chicken, vegetables, the list goes on. As long as there is no added soy sauce or any other wheat containing ingredient in the filling, then onigiri is safe to eat. They make a great on the go snack and are easy to eat.

See: Best rice cooker for onigiri and sushi rice


Gluten Free Japanese Sashimi

Sashimi is naturally gluten free, as long as there is no added soy sauce, as it is sliced seafood, usually salmon or tuna, eaten raw. If you like raw fish then this naturally gluten free Japanese dish is definitely for you! It is one of the most well known dishes in Japan, due to its popularity far and wide. It is usually served with soy sauce, however, opt for gluten free soy sauce as a dipping sauce for your raw sashimi. 

Makizushi (Maki Sushi)

Gluten Free Japanese Food Sushi

Makizush (or Maki, Maki rolls, sushi) is rolled sushi, where seasoned rice is rolled in between nori paper and filled with vegetables, meats or both. Maki can be naturally gluten free. Many popular fillings of Maki include avocado, cucumber, raw salmon, cooked tuna and teriyaki chicken. Unfortunately, oftentimes the teriyaki is not gluten free, however, if you stick to the vegetable, tuna or salmon maki then you are often safe. Side note: when we refer to sushi, this is often what we are talking about!

See: Sushi making kit


Mochi is delicious, chewy, sweet and naturally gluten free balls made from rice and traditionally filled with sweet fillings such as sweetened red bean paste. You can also find strawberry, purple potato and ume (Japanese plum) filled mochi to name a few. Nowadays you can find Mochi filled ice cream which is a delicious sweet treat! Mochi is made by continually pummelling Japanese short grain sticky rice. You may have seen the crazy videos of two men making mochi by pounding and kneading the rice dough. 

See: Mochi Ice cream kit 

Soba Noodles 

Traditional soba noodles are made from buckwheat, which means they are naturally gluten free. Many Japanese dishes utilise soba noodles however there is still the sneaky soy sauce added. When ordering soba noodles, ensure the marinade is gluten free. Soba noodles are very versatile, and buckwheat gives a nutty, earthy flavour. The consistency is akin to normal wheat noodles, so soba noodles are sure to satisfy your noodle cravings! Soba noodles are perfect as a base in any stir fry recipe.

See: Japanese Wok

Yakitori – Shio

Yakitori is grilled chicken skewers on charcoal, usually a hibachi, and can be naturally gluten free. If you order the Shio version, which just means salt, then the meat will be salted instead of marinated. Unfortunately, most marinades do contain gluten, so if you are out and about then be sure to order the salted version. If you are making this dish at home, then opt for gluten free soy sauce. Here is a delicious recipe for gluten free Yakitori.

See: Hibachi Charcoal Grill

Conclusion: Gluten Free Japanese Food

There are an array of Japanese dishes that either are or can be made gluten free. As there is a lot of rice containing dishes, as long as soy sauce is avoided or swapped for gluten free soy sauce then those with gluten allergies should be in the clear. It is important to ensure that the dishes you think may be naturally gluten free, do not contain any hidden soy sauce or miso paste that has wheat in it. Always check to see if there is soy sauce in marinades and where possible, cook your own Japanese cuisine. 

See Also: Gluten Free Chinese Food

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