I used to think that finding gluten-free Chinese food is like finding a needle in a haystack, but after I did my research, I realized that there are more gluten-free options than I thought!
So, yes, you can enjoy Chinese food while following a gluten-free diet. The only thing you need to do is learn what type of food doesn’t contain gluten and what you should avoid eating.
We’ll go through all of that today. I’ve also included a few extra tips that may come in handy. So, let’s get started!
Gluten-Free Chinese Food
From meat to veggies, here are different types of gluten-free Chinese food you can order at restaurants or prepare at home.
Meals that contain plain meat are mainly considered gluten-free. This means you can eat any type of meat as long as it isn’t covered in dark sauce. Steamed chicken or shrimp are excellent choices if you’re looking for gluten-free meat versions.
Yes, we all agree that meat is love, meat is life. However, you can also order certain types of starches that are also gluten-free. Here are a few options:
• Plain white or brown rice: I think this is pretty much self-explanatory. Plain white or brown rice is gluten-free. Hence, it’s at the top of the list of gluten-free Chinese food.
• Rice noodles: Rice noodles are also considered gluten-free as long as they don’t contain any soy sauce or dark sauces. Mei Fun and Chow Fun noodles are my favorites, so I strongly recommend them. The main difference between Mei Fun and Chow Fun noodles is that the former is thin rice noodles, while the latter is wide rice noodles.
• Glass or soba noodles: Glass noodles are made from mung beans or starches such as tapioca, potato, and others. Contrary to it, soba noodles are made from buckwheat. Of course, these two types of noodles are gluten-free.
Meat and vegetables have the same “gluten-free rule”. Any vegetable that doesn’t come with sauces (dark sauces in particular) is considered gluten-free. When it comes to spices, I recommend using gluten-free paprika.
What Type Of Chinese Food Should You Avoid?
When following a gluten-free diet, you also want to be familiar with the food that you should avoid eating. Chinese food is very delicious and can last pretty long, but not all types are gluten-free. So, here are some types of Chinese food/dishes that aren’t gluten-free:
• Kung Pao Chicken: This dish is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten, but it’s not gluten-free. Why? Because it’s filled with soy sauce which is something people on a gluten-free regimen should avoid.
• General Tso’s Chicken or Orange Chicken: These similar types of dishes also contain soy sauce which means they are not suitable for a gluten-free diet.
• Sweet and sour pork: Yup, sweet and sour pork also contains soy sauce which is why you shouldn’t consume it if you want to stay “faithful” to your gluten-free diet.
• Egg rolls: Who doesn’t like egg rolls? Well, if you’re following a gluten-free diet, then you should think twice before consuming them because egg rolls are typically made with wheat wrappers.
• Soy sauce and other dark sauces: We’ve already established that soy sauce is the number one thing to avoid if you’re on a gluten-free diet. The same applies to dark sauces.
• Deep fried and breaded dishes: These types of dishes aren’t gluten-free for sure. Beware of crunchy and crispy meals.
• Wheat noodles: Wheat noodles are the antonym for rice noodles such as Mei Fun and Chow Fun. As the name implies, wheat noodles are made of wheat which is definitely not gluten-free. Avoid Lo Mein or Chow Mein wheat noodles because they are made with wheat flour.
• Stir-fried rice: Beware of stir-fried rice because it’s prepared with soy sauce.
• “Teriyaki”: One of the ingredients in Teriyaki sauce is (guess twice) soy sauce. So, avoid dishes that contain anything teriyaki.
• Sweet and sour soup: Just like teriyaki sauce, sweet and sour soup also contains soy sauce. Hence, it’s something you should avoid unless it’s made with a different sauce that is gluten-free.
• Mongolian beef: This dish is usually made with soy sauce and that’s why it’s also on the list of dishes you should avoid if you want to continue following a gluten-free diet.
4 Extra Tips For Gluten-Free Chinese Food
If you want to become a pro at the gluten-free game, then follow these tips:
1. Bring your own gluten-free sauce
Here’s one of the best gluten-free hacks ever. If you go to a restaurant, simply take your gluten-free sauce (e.g. sriracha sauce or tamari soy sauce) with you. Order plain noodles, meat, or vegetables, and then add your own gluten-free sauce to the dish.
Pro tip: Don’t worry about what other people will think of this because I certainly don’t.
2. Use separate spoons when sharing dishes at the table
Sharing dishes with your partner, friends, and family is considered a norm. However, if you want to avoid cross-contamination, then use gluten-free utensils at the table. In other words, use separate spoons that don’t contain gluten ingredients from other gluten dishes at the table.
3. Discuss your gluten-free needs with a waiter or server
Don’t be ashamed of asking for gluten-free food from your waiter or server. Ask for a gluten-free menu and if they don’t have any, then ask them what type of gluten-free dishes they serve.
I don’t know about you, but this is something I do on a regular basis regardless of whether I’m looking for gluten-free food or not. Trust me, looking at the menus online will save you so much time and nerves.
You won’t feel pressured about ordering anything just because you “don’t have time” to figure things out at a restaurant. Also, you’ll be 100% sure that you choose the right dish that supports a gluten-free diet.
Well, you’ll also know whether you should bring your gluten-free tamari soy sauce with you and order something plain.
You Had Me At Gluten-Free!
When I was following a gluten-free diet, I was so obsessed with calculating whether a certain dish is gluten-free or not. Here’s something hilarious.
I and my men met at the park when he offered me chocolate chip cookies. So, the first thing that I asked him was: Are these gluten-free? He replied: Yes, they are!
Well, he had me at gluten-free! 😊