How to… Stock a Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen

Header - How To


updated 12/28/16

Since I was diagnosed last year, I’ve found that Asian recipes are hands down the easiest to convert to gluten-free than many other types of cuisines. A lot of recipes only require some minor replacements, if any, which makes it so much easier to stress out less!

As always, double and triple check the label to confirm gluten-free status. This list is always growing! You’ll also see it’s a lot of Korean stuff… sorry. 🙂 There are also affiliate links for any Amazon products.

Here’s a list of items that are really fundamental to the Asian kitchen:

Tamari Soy Sauce: just to get this off the list, soy sauce is first. There are a few different brands now offering gluten-free, from San J to Kikkoman to others that you’ll find in some Japanese markets. You’ll commonly find San J or Kikkoman at regular supermarkets, though.
Here’s a black-label San-J available on Amazon.
[Fun fact: 조선간장 (Joseon Ganjang) was made from soybeans, salt and water — no wheat!]

Mirin/mirim: [either hon (true) or aji] A must in any Asian kitchen, you will be able to easily find a gluten free mirin/mirim. Not the same as sake, has a lower alcohol content.

Sake: Alcohol. Also easy to find, and should be easy to find gluten free. You will want both mirin and sake.

Sesame Oil: Used in a lot of things, easy to find gluten free.

Gochujang: Red Pepper Paste. This is the toughie. A lot of gochujang is made with wheat nowadays, unfortunately, but is similar to soy sauce in that it was originally GF. There are some more nowadays like Chung Jung One and Wholly Gochujang, but it’s tough pickings. I plan to attempt to make this from scratch soon. [12/28/16 edit: Chung Jung One recently responded to my review on Amazon saying that it’s tested and is GF]
Here it is on Amazon: Gochujang Korean Chili Sauce 7.5Oz.(Pack of 2)

Oyster Sauce: Another one that’s somewhat hard to find, Lee Kum Kee makes a gluten free oyster sauce that looks to be pretty reliable. May be found at Whole Foods or another local crunchy supermarket.

Doenjang: Soybean Paste. The process of making doenjang typically makes soy sauce, this is extremely hard to find GF. Wholly makes a GF version, though. [12/28/16 edit: It tastes just as good as the non-GF version, so buy it up!]
Here it is on Amazon: Wholly Doenjang

Gochugaru: Red pepper powder. Easy to find GF, a lot of bags will be purely the red pepper and nothing else. I use a pepper powder + orange zest mix I found at the Korean market with no issues. Can also make from scratch with dehydrator.

Vinegar & Rice Vinegar: Filipino food uses a LOT of the regular vinegar, and you can’t go wrong having rice vinegar on hand. Both of these are easy to find and GF.

Noodles are another story, which I haven’t had a chance to really look at yet. I’ve seen some japchae noodles stamped with gluten free at the Korean store but haven’t confirmed if actually GF or not.

photo credit: JapChae via photopin (license)