Does Japanese Food Have Peanuts? (Not usually, but . . . )


While Japanese food is often associated with sushi, it is much more diverse than that. But what if you have a peanut allergy? If so, you’re probably wondering – does Japanese food have peanuts?

I decided to do some tasty exploration, and here’s what I discovered:

As a general rule, Japanese food does not have peanuts or use peanut oil. On occasion though, peanuts may be used in ramen broth. And some nuts like Gingko Nut, Kuri, and Japanese walnut might be included in some sweets and snacks. 

Most Japanese food is usually based on steamed white rice or noodles, grilled meats, and fish, often marinated in soy.

But there’s much more to know about Japanese food.

As I mentioned, peanuts are not typically used in Japanese food. But you can find pancakes, sea urchins, and other types of seafood. In this article, I’m going to explore all the ways that people with a peanut allergy can enjoy Japanese cuisine.

Just keep reading to find out!

Are there typically nuts in Japanese food?

Nuts of any kind are rare in Japanese cuisine as most nuts, including peanuts, are not native to Japan. However, ginkgo nuts, chestnuts (called Kuri in Japan), and Japanese walnuts are occasionally used in snacks.

In fact, as far as destinations go, Japan is probably one of the better places to travel with a peanut allergy. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be cautious.

Even though peanuts and peanut oil aren’t very common in traditional Japanese cuisine, you should be wary of cross-contamination when it comes to street food. Or even some restaurants, especially if they serve western food or food influenced by nearby countries.

Vietnamese food, for example, is not peanut-free.

Vietnamese food uses fresh ingredients, including herbs and vegetables. There are also a lot of dishes that use peanuts as a garnish or topping. They, too, do a lot of cooking in peanut oil.

People with peanut allergies can still enjoy Vietnamese food, though. In this recent article, I talk about all of the ways that people with peanut allergies can enjoy Vietnamese food.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Does ramen have nuts?

Many types of Japanese ramen do not contain nuts, however, Tonkotsu ramen often has peanuts used in the broth. 

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup that consists of noodles and some kind of broth (usually made of meat and sometimes fish-based).

Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is especially famous for its variation of ramen.

The city is typically associated with its rich miso ramen. It is topped with sweet corn, butter, bean sprouts, chopped pork, and garlic. Sometimes it may contain local seafood, like scallops, squid, and crab. Delicious! 

Hakata ramen comes from a city in Kyushu.

It consists of a rich, milky, pork-bone broth with thin noodles, and is often topped with pickled ginger, crushed garlic, and sesame seeds. Spicy pickled mustard greens are served on the side. It’s one of the most popular types of ramen in Japan and can be found at several chain restaurants.

As always, if you are prone to severe allergic reactions, always speak to the chef and take whatever precautions you need to.

Does Japanese curry have peanuts?

Japanese curry sauce (karē) does not have peanuts. It was brought to Japan when much of Asia was under British rule and curry powder is the base (typically coriander, turmeric, cumin, chili peppers).

It is served over rice, noodles, or in a pastry and is made up of a premixed roux, vegetables, and meat. The vegetables include things like onions, potatoes, and carrots. Beef, pork, and chicken are popular meat choices.

Also, Japanese curry is much sweeter than Thai or Indian curry.

Japanese curry is delicious, but it is definitely not the healthiest choice, especially when paired with a nice bowl of delicious rice or noodles.

It may contain MSG, preservatives, and/or artificial colors. It is also made with wheat flour, making it a no-go for folks with celiac disease.

You may eat it without rice or noodles if you are looking to make it healthier. But personally, I would rather eat curry in all its glory occasionally than leave out the rice so I can eat it more often. It’s simply not the same without the rice.

Just eat it alongside a salad to balance out the meal.

And while every Asian country has its own version of curry, each tends to be fairly different.

I talk about what curry is and the differences between Indian and Thai curry in this recent article. You, too, might be really surprised that only one type of Asian curry actually uses curry leaves.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What nuts are most common in Japan?

The most common nuts in Japan include ginkgo nut (or Ginnan), Kuri (a kind of Japanese Chestnut), Japanese walnut, and Ochi-no-mi (Japanese Horse Chestnut). As peanuts are not native to Japan, they are rare.

So, while Japan is not known for its nuts, there are quite a few of them.

Inside of the foul-smelling Ginko fruit, the Ginko nut can be found. It is delicious and highly sought after. They are a beautiful green and are often mistaken for pistachios. They are typically used in a savory custard or skewered on top of pine needles. They are chewy, slightly bitter, and can be pan-roasted.

Kuri is a chestnut that is native to Japan.

You can also find the Ochi-no-mi or Japanese Horse Chestnut. Also known as buckeyes, they are poisonous in their raw state. They must be heavily processed to eliminate toxins. They are used to make rice cakes.

Finally, the Japanese walnut. It is oily in texture and delicious. The husks are used to make dye, and the nuts are large and sweet.

But even though peanuts aren’t common in Japan, they can be used in some sweets and snacks. So if you’re traveling to Japan, you may want to avoid those things. Or at least ask about peanuts.

Is peanut oil used in Japanese cooking?

As a general rule, peanut oil is not used in Japanese cooking in Japan. And it can be difficult to find in Japanese supermarkets. The commonly used cooking oils in Japan are canola oil and sesame oil. However, Japanese restaurants in the United States may use peanut oil, so always ask.

Usually, food is fried in canola oil, vegetable oil, or some kind of oil mixture.

Canola is the most common oil for deep-frying. Other oils like sesame oil are used more for flavoring. So, if you are getting tempura, it is most likely going to be fried in canola oil. If you are eating stir fry, it’s likely to be sesame oil.

However, as far as processed food goes, snacks, candies, cookies, etc., may contain peanut contamination from the factory. So if you have a peanut allergy, it may be best to avoid them, as many products are unlabeled.

Even when products are labeled, they can be tough to decipher, especially if you’ve never read Japanese before.

Turkish food, however, uses peanut oil.

Turkish food does not generally contain peanuts, but it does use peanut oil when cooking. Peanuts may also be considered pub food and used for snacking.

To read more about the use of peanuts and peanut oil, as well as what nuts are grown in Turkey, check out this recent article.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Final thoughts

Japanese food is also reflective of the traditions within the culture. In this article, I talked about the use of peanuts in Japanese food.

I talked about how traditional Japanese food doesn’t typically contain peanuts or peanut oils. If you travel to Japan, you should be wary of street vendors and restaurants.

Japanese food is not just sushi. It’s deliciously diverse, and if you are making it at home or eating it at a Japanese eatery, you can rest easy knowing that you are not at risk of injury due to peanuts or peanut oil.

Interested in Cambodian food too?

I have a similar recent article that dives deep into the food from Cambodia and whether peanuts are common in that food too.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with 3 daughters, practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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