If you have Celiac disease or any kind of gluten intolerance, you will have to give up certain foods in order to keep any symptoms from flaring up.  But considering that there are over 3 million Americans who have Celiac disease, more and more gluten-free options are becoming available.  You don’t have to even give up Chinese food.  In fact, you never really had to give up Chinese food, but you will have to avoid some of the sauces and noodles.

The Incredible Variety of Chinese Food

Chinese food isn’t all about Chinese take-out; that would be like judging all of American cuisine from McDonald’s (ew, gross!).  But even at your favorite Chinese take-out, you can ask them to hold the sauce or ask about lighter fare.  You can often choose brown rice over white rice.  Stir-frying brings out, instead of covering up, the flavors inherent in all of the ingredients.

Chinese restaurants and take out places want to please their customers in order to stay in business.  They are aware of food allergies and the requirements of vegans or vegetarians.  They also will try to include some gluten-free Chinese food or dairy-free dishes on their menus.  You want to avoid anything that may have food additives, a thick sauce, or bread or pastry coating because these would contain gluten.

One alternative before going out or ordering out is to check out Select Wisely.  This website contains Cantonese translations to be sure you are communicating your needs directly.  Although most Chinese food establishments have excellent multi-lingual skills, some still have mostly native-speaking staff, especially in larger cities.

Make It Yourself

The best way to assure that you have gluten-free Chinese food is to make it yourself.  A wok is the best way to cook gluten-free Chinese food, but if all else fails, a big frying pan will do.  If you want to avoid rice (which you don’t have to), use crunchy bean sprouts.  The cooking itself takes only a few minutes.  It’s the chopping that will take up the most of your time.  But once you practice vegetable and meat chopping, you will get faster and may find it a fun way to engage your children in the kitchen as well.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.

The main spices of gluten-free Chinese food are the same as for any other Chinese cooking – fennel, peppercorns, cloves, star anise and cinnamon or ginger.  Many commercial Chinese Five Spice mixes will often have salt and pepper and garlic powder in them.  Fresh garlic is another must for gluten-free Chinese cooking, unless you really hate garlic or have been told by your doctor to cut down on it. Be sure to use a tamari soy sauce, however, because regular soy sauce has gluten in it.

Two Restaurant Options

I know of two restaurant options that do cater to a gluten-free diet (and it’s pretty easy to avoid dairy at Chinese restaurants). These two restaurants are:

P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

Pei Wei

Do you know of other Chinese restaurants that cater to gluten-free eaters? Please add them in the comments below.