Celiac disease is the most frequent food intolerance and its prevalence is estimated to be around 1%: it has been calculated that in the Italian population the theoretical number of celiacs is around 600,000, against over 225,000 to date diagnosed.

It is often thought that Asian food may be off-limits given the amount of soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, which often contain gluten.

Yet Asian cuisine is rice and rice noodle cuisine that are naturally gluten-free.

There are several ways to adapt recipes to make them simply gluten-free.

Let's take a look at some common Asian ingredients that are "naturally" gluten-free.

Soy sauce against Tamari

Traditional soy sauce (shoyu) is made up of 50% wheat and 50% soybeans and tamari contains no (or very little) wheat.

Since some brands may contain a small percentage of wheat, I recommend checking that the term glutee free is included.

Tamari is a sauce made with 100% soybeans (without wheat) and because it is naturally produced it also has a richer flavor.

You can use Tamari whenever a recipe calls for soy sauce. When a recipe calls for dark soy sauce, you can add a little brown sugar or molasses to the tamari and for the light soya sauce add water and sugar.

Hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce and other Asian sauces / Cooking wines

This can be a little trickier because it really depends on the brands of these sauces, but the good news is that you can now find both gluten-free hoisin and oyster sauce.

Your best strategy is to check the ingredient list if a sauce is not clearly marked "Gluten Free" on the label.

If you are following a gluten-free diet, I recommend that you buy Asian sauces at the best Italian grocery stores, as they tend to have better ingredient labeling and are always correctly listed in Italian.

When it comes to fish sauce, it's important to always check the label as some contain gluten and others don't.

In addition, some brands of fish sauces add hydrolyzed wheat proteins which are sometimes lost in translation and are listed as "hydrolyzed vegetable proteins". It can be listed in Vietnamese as "lua mi protein," which literally translates as wheat protein. Again, I recommend buying fish sauce at top traditional food stores where you will find brands that are gluten-free.

We at SuiteFood are selecting the best companies in the world that you can find in the Asia Glutee Free section.

Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing wine) is an aromatic flavored wine commonly used in Chinese recipes. Often, wheat is used in the fermentation process and can be difficult to identify on labels. I would recommend replacing with dry sherry, the recipe will still be perfect.

Some sake brands may contain a very small percentage of gluten due to the koji mold used in sake which can sometimes be harvested on barley (but barley is not actually used in the fermentation process). If you are following a very strict gluten-free diet, I would recommend buying gluten-free sake.

Miso or non miso

Miso is a Japanese fermented paste made from beans and cereals. Soy, chickpeas, and adzuki beans are typically used in miso paste and are all gluten-free. Grains can range from rice and quinoa to wheat and barley. Sometimes the grain used is identified in the miso name, such as brown rice miso, but it's always safer to check the label.


Asian cuisine is "loved" for its noodles and the great information is that for gluten-free diets there is a wide range of naturally gluten-free rice noodles available that can be stir-fried, sautéed in soups, fried or served cold for salads.

While you may have to give up your chow mein or lo mein (both wheat-based), you can easily substitute these types of noodles for rice ones.

Rice noodles are sold dried or fresh. Dried varieties are most commonly found in traditional grocery stores, while you can find both dried and fresh in Asian markets.

Rice noodles vary in size but are all made with rice, always check the ingredients list and choose products declared glutee free.

"Glass" noodles are similar to rice noodles but are made with mung beans and are also naturally gluten-free.

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