The Food Philosopher: Gluten-Free Recipes, Health and Nutrition, Diet and Weight Loss





Gluten-Free Goes Asian

classes for several years in different states across the county. Interestingly, in the last six months, we've noticed a remarkable trend: more and more people are eating gluten-free for health reasons other than celiac disease and wheat allergies. These people are what we call gluten-sensitive, people who choose to avoid gluten for a variety of reasons including headaches, cancer, arthritis, irritable bowl syndrome, thyroid problems, autism, neurological problems, and weight loss. But celiacs or not, what everyone in our classes have in common are dietary fiber concerns and fear of eating Asian food. We've already spent some time discussing fiber (see Health and Nutrition Archive for gluten-free daily fiber recommendations), and we thought we'd turn out attention to sharing some of our favorite recipes for Asian food. Our Asian-inspired featured menu is gluten-free and blends the fragrant flavors of Vietnam, China, Japan, and Indonesia into a delicious feast that you can enjoy with family and friends.

Shrimp and Mango Spring Rolls
Crisp Chinese "Dumpling" Balls
Boneless Chinese Pork Ribs
Asian-Style Grilled Vegetable Platter
Spicy Asian Pasta
Grilled Sate Skewers
Minted Melon Balls
Almond Crisps*
Green Tea

*See recipe archive on this Website.


The taste exploration begins with Shrimp and Mango Spring Rolls made from rice paper and served with a bottled sweet chili sauce. The rice paper may look tricky to use but it only requires two minutes of soaking in a warm water bath to be roll ready. The filling possibilities are numerous. Ideas include julienne strips of carrots, celery, and red pepper, or thin slices of cooked chicken, crab or lobster. If you are vegetarian, firm tofu or tempeh are great substitutions for the shrimp.

Next are crispy Chinese "dumpling" balls and boneless Chinese pork ribs. The "dumplings" are easy to make because they are really just the tempting dumpling filling rolled in cornstarch and fried to create a crunchy coating. The well-seasoned pork ribs are a tasty, quick appetizer that is sure to please even picky eaters. The recipes feature gluten-free recommendations for soy sauce and hoisin sauce. We recommend that you carefully read all food labels, especially imported products, since many labels still don't comply with the 2004 Food Allergen and Consumer Protection Labeling law.

Our main entrée features Grilled Sate skewers of chicken, pork or beef. The skewers can be prepared the day before and grilled right before serving. Gluten-free bottled sate sauces are a rare find. Our sate sauce makes two cups worth and can easily be frozen for additional uses. Grilled fresh vegetables of peppers, Japanese eggplants, mushrooms, zucchini and onions in a sesame flavored marinade, and spicy Asian pasta round out the meal. Try one of the imported Italian gluten-free corn pastas, such as Bi-Anglut®, and no one will know the difference. We also like Tinkyada® brown rice pasta (made in Canada) and Schaar® rice pasta (made in Italy).

Minted melon balls serve as the dessert palate refresher on a warm summer night. Their elegant simplicity befits the Asian tradition of fruit for dessert. And our Almond Crisp cookies (see recipe archive on the website) are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of green tea.



Lime juice from 2 limes
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar, packed
24 uncooked shrimp, (size 30-40 to a pound) peeled and deveined
½ pound pea sprouts
16 fresh Thai or sweet basil leaves
1 large mango, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
1 jar sweet chili sauce

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, and brown sugar. Add pea sprouts and basil and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. In a large non-stick pan, over medium-high heat, sauté the shrimp until pink. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Then add fresh coriander and toss.
  3. Soak the rice paper wrappers in warm water until they are pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on a clean dish towel, turning each sheet once.
  4. Place a sheet of rice paper on a work surface. Place ¼ cup of the filling on the lower third of the sheet. Top with 3 shrimps and 2 strips of mango. Roll as tightly as possible on a diagonal. Place seam-side down. Repeat to make 7 more rolls. Some filling will remain. Allow the rolls to rest about 2 minutes before serving.
  5. To serve, divide the remaining filling among the plates. Slice each roll on the bias into 2 pieces and place 2 rolls on each mound of salad. Garnish with a basil leave and serve with a sweet chili sauce.

© 2007 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts


Makes about 24

1 pound ground chicken
½ cup minced scallions
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce*
1 tablespoon sesame oil
¼ teaspoon black pepper
About ½ cup corn starch for coating
Canola oil or peanut oil for frying

Dipping sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce*
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon sesame oil or hot sesame oil

  1. Mix chicken, scallions, bread crumbs, garlic, ginger, say sauce, sesame oil, and black pepper together in a medium bowl and marinate in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Place cornstarch in a small bowl. Form chicken mixture into 1-inch balls and roll in cornstarch until completely coated. Set each finished ball aside on a plate. (Can be prepared ahead and stored covered with plastic wrap in refrigerator).
  3. Pour about 1-inch of oil into a heavy 3-quart saucepan and heat to 350°F (use a candy thermometer to maintain temperature). Fry chicken balls in batches, approximately 2 minutes per side, until browned, crispy and cooked through. Remove and blot with paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce.

Cook's note: Although best when freshly made, chicken balls can be made ahead, cooled and stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Reheat heat in preheated 350°F oven until hot (about 10 minutes).

*Gluten-free soy sauce recommendation: San-J Organic Tamari

© 2007 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts


Serves 8 as an hors d'oeuvre

1½ pounds boneless pork tenderloin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup hoisin sauce*
½ cup soy sauce or tamari**
2 tablespoons molasses

  1. Cut pork into ¼-inch thick slices. Carefully remove any fat, gristle, or fibers.
  2. Weave pork onto skewers; each piece should lie flat and be punctured in two places with the skewer.
  3. Combine garlic, ketchup, chili powder, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and molasses in small bowl.
  4. Place skewers containing pork in large baking pan and coat with marinade. Cover and refrigerate over night. Turn occasionally and recoat with sauce.
  5. Preheat grill (or broiler) until very hot. Cook pork about 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through and slightly browned. Serve immediately.

*Gluten-free hoisin sauce recommendation: Premier Japan® Sauce Hoisin
**Gluten-free soy sauce recommendation: San-J Organic Tamari

© 2007 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts


Serves 6-8

Use any combination of vegetables from below:
2 small zucchini (firm), washed and cut in half length-wise
2 small yellow squash (firm), washed and cut in half length-wise
3 portabella mushrooms, washed
1 green pepper cut in half length-wise and seeds removed
1 red pepper cut in half length-wise and seeds removed
2 medium onions, peeled and cut in thin round slices
2 Japanese eggplant, peeled below stem and cut length-wise from stem
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Asian Marinade

2 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari*
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped fine
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  1. Combine 5 marinade ingredients and mix well.
  2. Pour ¼ cup marinade over the eggplant and let sit for 1 hour.
  3. Place sliced onions, spread horizontally, in foil, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Seal foil closed.
  4. Toss other vegetables lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Prepare grill and coat grates with olive oil. Grill the peppers, onions and eggplant at 350°F for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Grill zucchini, yellow squash and mushrooms at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, turning once, until fork tender.
  6. Slice cooked mushrooms and peppers and toss lightly with marinade. Cut stem off eggplants. Cut zucchini, squash, and eggplant into smaller pieces. Arrange all vegetables on platter and serve all vegetables warm or at room temperature.

**Gluten-free soy sauce recommendation: San-J Organic Tamari

© 2007 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts


Serves 4 as main dish.
Serves 8 as side dish.

1 pound pasta (spaghetti or linguine)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

Asian Dressing for Pasta

1 large garlic clove
½ teaspoon fresh ginger
¼ cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts
½ cup fresh coriander
Pinch of ground anise
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon chili paste or hot sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce of tamari*
¼ cup sherry

  1. Cook the pasta, following package directions carefully to avoid over-cooking.
  2. Purée first 4 dressing ingredients in food processor until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Pour over cooked pasta and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.
  3. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Gluten-free soy sauce recommendation: San-J Organic Tamari

© 2007 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts


Makes 20-24 brochettes

  • 1½ pounds boneless chicken, skinned, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Or 1½ pounds well trimmed flank steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Or 1½ pounds trimmed pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes 20-24 (6- inch)
  • wooden skewers

Sate Marinade

4 garlic cloves
¼ cup fresh coriander
4 slices fresh peeled ginger ¼ inch thick
1 dried red chili pepper
1½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1½ tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari*
2 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons oil

  1. To make marinade, grind garlic, coriander, ginger and chili pepper in a food processor until finely chopped. Combine remaining ingredients and process until blended.
  2. Spear 3 cubes of chicken or meat on skewer. Place skewers in a shallow dish. Pour marinade over skewers and turn them so that each is well coated.
  3. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling.
  4. Preheat and prepare barbecue. Over medium heat, grill chicken or pork for 2 minutes per side, or until just cooked. For beef, grill 1-2 minutes per side, or until medium.
  5. Serve warm with Sate Sauce.

**Gluten-free soy sauce recommendation: San-J Organic Tamari

Sate Sauce

¼ cup oil
2 cloves garlic
1 onion
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 dried red chili pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon grass; or fresh lemon grind
3 Kaffir lime leaves*
½ teaspoon curry powder
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup water
1 2-inch cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup chunky peanut butter

  1. In a food processor, mince garlic, onion, ginger, chili pepper and lemon grass until well blended.
  2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and saut? garlic, onion, ginger, chili peppers, lemon grass, Kaffir lime leaves and curry powder for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until sauce thickens. Stir frequently while simmering to prevent sauce from sticking to bottom of pan.
  4. Remove Kaffir lime leaves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick before serving.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Kaffir lime leaves can be found in Asian and specialty food markets, usually frozen. An acceptable substitute is 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.

Cook's Note: Sauce can be made 2 days in advance. Cool to room temperature. Cover and keep refrigerated. Sauce will keep refrigerated for a week.

© 2007 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts


Makes 40 balls

1 ripe but firm honeydew melon
1 ripe but firm cantaloupe
1/3 cup Cointreau (or other orange-flavored brandy)
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

  1. Cut the melons in half. Scoop out all the seeds.
  2. Using a melon-ball scoop, cut as many balls from each melon as possible. Try to make the balls uniform and whole. Place the balls in a serving bowl.
  3. Add the brandy to the melon balls, stir well, and refrigerate until ready to use. Right before serving, sprinkle with mint.
  4. Serve from bowl with decorative picks.

© 2007 by Claudia Pillow and Annalise Roberts