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Having a gluten free list of foods from around the world can open your diet to some adventure. On this page I’ve listed gluten free Asian desserts, appetizers, noodle dishes, and more.
There are so many possibilities...
If you don’t see one of your favorites listed below,
or have a comment about any of these foods, please add it here.
In addition to rice, corn (maize), millet and buckwheat are also used. If you’re traveling, keep in mind that wheat is predominant in northern China where it grows better than rice. Here’s a traditional gluten free list from China:
BREADS and STARCHY DISHES: Rice flour is made into steamed bread and buns, noodles, and thin pancakes or rice papers that are wrapped around fillings. See a list of some gluten free Chinese foods with their main ingredients here.
DESSERTS: steamed puddings, Chinese New Year’s cookies and dumplings, almond cookies, Chinese rice cake
APPETIZERS, SNACKS: filled dumplings (dim sum) are often made with rice, fried items often have a cornstarch coating, Shanghai spring rolls are made with rice wrappers, fried bean curd
MAIN and SIDE DISHES: Steamed rice, fried rice, sizzling rice, rice noodles of different widths and thicknesses, potato basket crust, bean thread noodles, stuffed bean curd.
Rice is the main staple in Japan. They often use wheat noodles, but buckwheat noodles are traditional too, especially in eastern Japan or for special occasions.
Keep in mind that Japanese Tempura vegetables are made with wheat flour, so don’t include them on your gluten free list.
BREAD and GRAINS: Katamochi: crisp rice crackers made with just rice and salt, senbei, another type of rice cracker that can be many flavors, rice balls, steamed rice
DESSERTS: yomoga ga shima, cookies made with lima bean flour, agar pudding, Japanese rice cake, or Mochi
MAIN DISHES, SNACKS, APPETIZERS: sushi, sashimi, buckwheat soba (noodles): be sure they’re 100% buckwheat flour, because they are often mixed with wheat flour.
INDONESIA serves a snack, or appetizer, called Krupuk Udang, or shrimp chips. They’re made from rice flavored with shrimp and can be bought ready to eat, or ready to drop in the fryer. They may come in colors, which I’m sure are artificial, but you can get them without.
KOREA prepares hundreds of types of Korean Rice Cake.
TIP: A really easy way to make coconut rice is to mix some unrefined coconut oil, available in natural food stores, into steamed rice. This is one of my favorite snacks, especially since I can have it without sugar, unlike in a restaurant. Burmese coconut rice is often very sweet, so you can add sugar if you like.
DESSERTS: Flan is a favorite dessert, as in many Latin American countries with a Spanish influence. Other favorite desserts are Champorado, a rice pudding with chocolate, another rice dessert with coconut and peanuts, and many types of Filipino rice cakes, such as Puto, a steamed rice cake, and Biko which has a caramelized coconut milk topping.
APPETIZERS: Lumpia are the Filipino version of spring rolls, and can be served fresh or fried. The wrappers may be made with corn starch or rice flour, but I’ve also seen them made with wheat flour, so watch out if you are gluten free.
NOODLES: Pancit is the term for noodles, and pancit bijon is a dish made with thin rice noodles.
BREAKFAST or SNACK: Coconut pancakes made from rice flour and coconut milk, then wrapped around banana slices (my addition).
DESSERTS: Coconut custard served in a pumpkin shell, sticky coconut rice, fried bananas.
APPETIZERS: Tod mun, or fish cakes, are one of my favorite appetizers: they are my litmus test for a good Thai restaurant.
APPETIZERS, or light meals or snacks: One of my all time favorites are Vietnamese spring rolls made with rice paper wrappers. My favorite is the fried version, which give that satisfying crunch. They’re wrapped in lettuce leaves along with some mint and cilantro, and then dipped in nuoc cham, sweetened fish sauce with lemon and slivered carrots. They may also be served fresh, unfried.
Bánh xèo is a rice and coconut crêpe, soft in the middle and crisp around the edges, that is filled and eaten wrapped in lettuce similar to the spring rolls above.
Bánh cuốn are another type of filled rice roll. They aren’t fried.
Although traditional Indian food is very different from Chinese and Japanese in spices and methods of cooking, it also has rice as a main starch. Potatoes rank up there with rice, and millet and corn are also used. Here’s a gluten free list for India:
BREADS: dosas, often filled with a potato filling, are made from typically made from rice flour and dal, but there are many versions; pappadums are made with chickpea or lentil flour; idli are steamed rice dumplings served with dal; Pakori dumplings are made by dipping fried chickpea batter in water, then squeezing the water out.
DESSERTS: carrot, rice (firni and kheer), and agar puddings are popular.
SNACKS, APPETIZERS: Pakoris are vegetables dipped in a chickpea batter and fried; vadas are spiced, fried potato balls.
MAIN and SIDE DISHES: Biriani is a famous rice dish than can be vegetarian or made with chicken. Rice pilafs or plain steamed rice are usually served with meals.
Like many northern countries, Russia is partial to wheat and rye. So its gluten free list is pretty short. But potatoes are very big, as well as the warming grain buckwheat.
GRAINS: Kasha is cracked, toasted buckwheat often made with onion and/or egg.
DESSERTS: Mazurka is a lemon hazelnut cake served at Easter, kisel is a puréed fruit dessert thickened with potato starch.
Sides: Potato salad and other potato dishes are favorites served at many meals.