HOME > Chowhound > China & Southeast Asia >
What have you made lately?

Gluten free Chinese dishes

hoyhacesol Nov 4, 2013 01:19 PM

Every time I travel to China I struggle with getting gluten-free food in restaurants.
Any suggestions on Chinese dishes that are naturally gluten free (e.g. I don't need to request for certain ingredients to be left out)?


  1. Dave MP Nov 12, 2013 12:21 PM

    I just posted this same question/response on the Special Diets board, but for those who live in China:

    Is the soy sauce (and potentially other sauces?) used in Chinese restaurants in China gluten-free?

    8 Replies
    1. re: Dave MP
      hoyhacesol Nov 12, 2013 01:06 PM

      Thanks so much for your response, Dave.
      I am pretty sure the soy sauce is not gluten free, and neither is MSG. I always ask the cook to leave the MSG out, but when I ask to leave the soy sauce out as well, they often just refuse.
      That's why I was wondering if there are any dishes that have no sauce to begin with. I'll try the sticky rice in clay pot and let you know how that goes...
      Thanks again!

      1. re: hoyhacesol
        Dave MP Nov 12, 2013 03:29 PM

        Depending on the recipe, those might have soy sauce in them too. Where in China do you live?

        1. re: Dave MP
          hoyhacesol Nov 13, 2013 05:25 AM

          I don't live in China, I just travel there often. I have an upcoming trip to Beijing, various places in Anhui, Nanning and then off to Hong Kong and Taipei. Restaurant recommendations anyone?

        2. re: hoyhacesol
          NilesCable Nov 12, 2013 11:24 PM

          Two important things to know:
          Pure MSG has never any gluten in it, those two things are completely different but get mixed up often. MSG is an artificially created taste enhancer, a copy of something found in meat.

          Soy Sauce normally will not have gluten in it if it is done in the traditional way, means brewed. But there are soy sauces on the market that take a short cut, so that there is gluten still in it.

          As a celiac myself I never had any troubles in south China with just avoiding dishes that have gluten in it on first glance. Especially Canton region uses mostly rice and corn starch instead of wheat. North China is a different thing, had to be much more careful there.

          1. re: NilesCable
            hoyhacesol Nov 13, 2013 05:28 AM

            Thanks for clarifying that, I had no idea that MSG is mostly gluten free. I am not celiac but I have a pretty bad gluten intolerance. Every time I eat something with MSG I seem to get sick, so I just assumed.
            Thanks again!

            1. re: hoyhacesol
              NilesCable Nov 13, 2013 06:30 AM

              Thats why i wrote it, I often meet people that mix up these two. The only case where MSG can have gluten is if MSG is mixed with spices. Most producers add wheat flour to these ready mixes to have the spices attach better to the food. Same reason you find a gluten warning on most potato chips packings. But most cooks will prefer their own spice mixes instead of using these ready made ones.

              1. re: NilesCable
                PhilD Nov 13, 2013 02:50 PM

                I agree with Niles in commercial kitchens MSG is going to be spooned in as pure MSG powder rather than as a combination so should not be an issue with gluten.

                Soy sauce is trickier as the cheaper, often western, ones are possibly going to have wheat in the production, but even then the processing eliminates most of the protein that causes a reaction. Better soy sauce is brewed without wheat so should be fine - but how do you know if it's used?

                Potato starch is often used as a thickener or to gloss the dishes so that should be fine, and rice flour is often used in the south for noodles etc. in the north more wheat is used in dumplings, pastries and buns.

                What to eat - roasted meats, steamed fish (soy sauce added by the diner not in the kitchen), stir fried dishes, tofu dishes, hotpots. But not steamed buns...!

                1. re: PhilD
                  hoyhacesol Dec 2, 2013 02:14 PM

                  Thanks PhilD! Some useful advice here :)

      Show Hidden Posts