Eggs and nuts in Japanese cuisine?

Old Feb 27th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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Eggs and nuts in Japanese cuisine?

Hi:

We are traveling to Tokyo and Kyoto in March with our son who is allergic to eggs and nuts. I do know that the tempura batter has eggs in it, but are there any other dishes that have eggs or nuts? Do noodles contain eggs? What can be considered safe foods (that is, devoid of eggs and nuts) if we find ourselves in a place where English isn't spoken well?

And are Japanese restaurants knowledgable about food allergies? Similar to restaurants in America, is it an acceptable practice in Japan to ask the waiter/server to check with the chef on the ingredients in the food items?

Please advise.

Thanks,
D
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Old Feb 27th, 2011, 07:04 PM
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I think eggs will appear in a good bit of Japanese cooking. I believe they are not used in noodles traditionally, but you should ask. They may also appear in dumplings as a thickening agent. Chawanmushi, which is steamed egg custard, is popular and appears often on menus. I don’t think peanuts are used very much, if at all, in Japanese cooking. But if you go to a Thai, Malay or Western restaurant, you should review menus.

I would suggest you have a card which indicates, in Japanese, your son's allergies. I assume your son’s allergy is to chicken eggs, but if it includes duck eggs and things like fish roe, this should be noted as well. If you can’t find on-line sources for a translation, have the hotel to write this down and keep copies. Give this to all waiters, even if they appear to speak English well. It is not considered impolite to mention food allergies or preferences. You may find that the chef may come out to discuss specific dishes.
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Old Feb 27th, 2011, 10:30 PM
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It is totally acceptable to ask about the ingredients of foods. Whether you get an entirely accurate answer or not depends. In some cases, the answer you get will be an assumption and incorrect. In other cases, the person may not know, and will go to get other staff, and soon you will have a whole crew around you discussing your questions.

The lunch set i just ate - very nice, indeed - included both eggs and nuts in unsuspecting places. The soup contains threads of egg, just the smallest bit, but there. There was a side dish that contained walnuts and meat and miso. And then there was easily identifiable egg, too.

Tempura has egg, as you already know. Also avoid anything with breading and fried, as first it is dipped in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Eggs show up in salads, so be careful about ordering them. Mayonnaise is almost a staple, so be sure to specify no mayonnaise...it even comes on pizza, and, surprisingly, some people don't make the association between eggs and mayonnaise.

Vegetables often have a d
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Old Feb 27th, 2011, 10:38 PM
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Oops.

Vegetables often have a dusting of what is usually ground sesame, but can also be ground peanuts, or a mixture of the two. Green beans and leafy greens are often served this way.

Packaged snack foods would best be avoided, including candy and, as they "may" have eggs or nuts and you won't be able to read the label, and, more importantly, they may be produced in factories that process nuts, too, and have contamination, same issue as in the US.

What will be safe? Sushi is safe as long as you are sure you haven't selected egg or "salad" sushi (which will have mayo and plenty of it). Udon is safe as long as the soup is not one of the sorts that has egg. Soba may be a risk with a nut allergy...not sure about that, so I wouldn't try it for the first time here.

Oden and nimono should be OK...but with oden, know that all foods are boiled together, and boiled eggs are typical.
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Old Feb 27th, 2011, 10:43 PM
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Again, my thumb just is loving that submit button.

Plenty of Italian and Indian restaurants around, which have lots of known choices. CoCos California Restaurant is a family style, cheap but ok tasting place that is good about listing allergens in foods...they would be able to tell you ingredients. Small restaurants that have the chef visible from the counter, they are usually very friendly and you could talk to the chef about the allergies. We've found good hotels offer very good food (though you do pay for it), and are very accommodating to special requests. Big, international hotels also have plenty of English speaking staff.

Typically, Japanese people are aware of allergies, but tend to focus on allergies to milk, soba and eggs. Nuts are not so much paid attention to, but they aren't uncommon in cooking really, so be sure to be diligent.
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Old Feb 28th, 2011, 02:47 AM
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Cicerone and KimJapan:

Thank you so much for your detailed replies. I really appreciate your efforts.

Regards,
D
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