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Gluten: Not Always Labeled When There

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Rice, Noodles, and Other Grain Foods

Summer Volume: 2019 Issue: 26(2) pages: 31 to 33

This common protein, most often in wheat, has two main components, gliadin and glutenin. When mixed with a liquid, they make gluten, a protein used in many bakery products that after being baked, as are gluten balls shown here, are chewy and elastic. Gluten can also be found when most wheat flours are used including often in pastas. breads, crackers, seasonings, and other items. There are some people who have a sensitivity to gluten; they should avoid it. This sensitivity grows the more they are exposed to gluten so if you are such a person, avoid all ingesting.

Gluten causes an auto-immune disorder with serious stomach pain. Those with it need to know that every ingestion increases it. It can be found in imitation meat products popular with Chinese and other Buddhists and many vegetarians; it is in commercial bakery products, even in many that say they are gluten free; that is because of archaic labeling laws. Gluten provides texture, particularly after products are kneaded as it improves their texture.

First common during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 CE) and thereafter, in the Song, Liao, and the Yuan Dynasties (960 - 1279; 1279 - 1227; and 1227 - 1368, respectively), some dishes then and now called ’drunken’ have no alcohol in them, but are made with wheat, soy, another bean, or a mixture of them, and with chili and/or sesame oil, lemon juice, a coagulant, or another grain with gluten so they do expand, get chewy, and/or elastic after adding a liquid, and are kneaded or mixed well. Gluten keeps their components together. If a product is green, it can have added sake, a Japanese wine often used in China, or crushed green leaves, a green ‘mucor’ mold, a chemical enhancement, or another ferment sitting in them for hours to improve their texture and/or taste.

The Chinese are masters and do blend gluten with root vegetables, various beans or bean flours, spices, wheat and often with other replacements. Users with this sensitivity need to read food labels and know local laws. They should not consume foods that they might be allergic to; and they need to know that increased ingestion increases these sensitivities. Others need to know that consuming them can go against their religious beliefs. They should not eat any Imitation meats as they can have gluten in them and not be so listed. In the US and in some other countries, ‘gluten-free’ only means that the food has less than twenty parts per million or that gluten is not a stand-alone ingredient.

Li Shih-chen, at the end of the 1500s, said its nature is sweet, cooling, and not toxic; and he knew Buddhists did not eat meat, fish, and eggs or drink alcoholic beverages to have a pure body and mind, so according to the Shurangama Sutra, they should not consume a drop of it because it destroys their hope of remaining compassionate forever.

We know that if someone thinks they might be allergic or sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease or another similar sensitivity, they should not ingest any food made with it because their problems will increase with additional intake. We recommend contacting the manufacturer of a suspected product to ask if it does as laws in other countries can be different. Do not rely on just reading a food label.

Gluten can have up to threequarters of the total weight in hard wheat and in many breads that are kneaded to improve their elasticity. Many wheat flours are high in gluten while pastry or soft flours usually have less but are not gluten free. Kneading increases gluten strands, makes a chewy dough, and these sensitivities do increase with every exposure, no matter how little gluten is in a product. Not every one can or should consume gluten because doing so can damage the small intestine, bloat the stomach, cause pain, swell the stool, increase headaches and painful skin irritations, increase depression and anxiety, increase joint and muscle pain, and other health issues.

This was not known years ago when Li Khou Tsung-shih advised that white flour when chewed becomes sticky. He did not know it increased gluten because that was not known then nor was gluten known as the cause of these symptoms.

In the Qin Min Yao Shui (QMYS), some did say there were problems when flour products were cooked in boiling water or felt slippery in the mouth, gluten was not named or known as the cause in earlier times. Do consult Joseph Needham’s Science & Civilization in China in its Volume VI No 5 where HT Huang talks about gluten sensitivities. If you suspect a negative reaction, consult your doctor or allergist.

Making Gluten

½ pound hard wheat (some is called bread flour)
1 teaspoon salt


1. Mix flour and salt with three cups of water and knead in a small or medium-size bowl for about twenty minutes, then cover with a clean dish towel and allow this to rest one hour.
2. Put this dough in a larger bowl, turn on cool water slowly, put the bowl under it and turn the bowl until no cloudy water appears, the water is clear, and the dough is spongy. Then only the gluten remains. One can capture the cloudy water and strain it and dry the starch. Then use it for another purpose.

Braised Gluten

½ pound firm doufu, cut into one-inch thin pieces
1 cup chicken broth
3 Tablespoons cloud ear mushrooms, broken up, soaked until soft, then drained, water discarded
3 Tablespoons dried lily flowers, soaked until soft, then the water discarded
1 cup vegetable oil
10 gluten balls, each cut in half
3 slices fresh ginger
1 teaspoon thin soy sauce
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch


1. Simmer doufu pieces in the chicken broth for one hour.
2. Add cloud ear mushrooms and lily flowers (also called lily buds) for thirty minutes more, then drain and discard this water.
3. Heat the oil in a wok or fry pan and fry the gluten ball pieces until golden (about five minutes) then drain and set aside for another use.
4. Reheat the pan with two tablespoons of oil, add ginger and stir two or three times, then add doufu and stir-fry for two minutes. Next add both soy sauces and oyster sauce, sugar, and cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon of cold water. Stir until thickened, and transfer it to a pre-heated bowl, and serve.

Stuffed Rolled Gluten

½ pound pork or firm doufu, chopped
1 scallion, minced finely
12 gluten balls
2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
12 small cabbage leaves, blanched until soft, and drained well


1. Mix chopped pork or doufu, then add soy sauce, scallion pieces, sesame oil, sugar, and cornstarch. Divide this into twelve parts and stuff each one into gluten balls.
2. Then wrap each stuffed ball into a cabbage leaf and put each one seam-side down in a three-quart pot and add water to cover them, then simmer them for fifteen minutes.
3. Remove them from the heat, and remove the cabbage packets to a pre-heated platter, and serve them.

Roast Pork with Hairy Melon

½ cup vegetable oil
½ pound gluten cut into one-inch slices
2 hairy melons, peeled, cut in half, each half cut into six pieces
5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon fermented black beans, rinsed and mashed
2 teaspoons shrimp paste
½ pound firm roast pork, cut in thin half-inch pieces
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
2 teaspoons cornstarch


1. Heat wok or fry pan, add the oil and in one minute, add the gluten slices and stir-fry them for two minutes. Now drain them on paper towels, and discard the oil.
2. Add the garlic and stir-fry it for one minute, then add the black beans, shrimp paste, salt, sugar, pork and stir- pan.
3. Now add half cup of water, stir well, bring to the boil then reduce the heat, and add the hairy melon pieces. Cover the pan and simmer for twenty minutes, remove the cover and stir once, then stir the cornstarch with two tablespoons of cold water and add this to the wok or fry pan, and stir until the sauce thickens. Then transfer everything to a pre-heated bowl and serve.

Gluten, Gingko, and Mushrooms

½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup kao fu (brown wheat gluten), cut into one-inch cubes
3 slices fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup drained gingko nuts
1 Tablespoon dried soaked wood ear mushrooms, drained and thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon flowering chives, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fermented black beans, soaked and mashed
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 Tablespoon pressed brown sugar


1. Heat wok or fry pan, add the oil and the gluten piece and stir-fry until they are lightly colored and becoming crisp, then remove them into a bowl of hot water and immediately drain them putting them on paper towels. Then, pour off the oil left in the pan saving it for another use.
2. Add ginger pieces to the empty wok or pan, and stir-fry them for one minute before adding drained gingko nuts, wood ear mushroom pieces, flowering chives, mashed black beans, broth, soy sauce, wine, and brown sugar. Stir-fry for two minutes until almost all the liquid has boiled out, and serve in a pre-heated bowl.

Gluten with Chestnuts and on Rice

1 Tablespoon dried shrimp, soaked for half an hour
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
5 scallions, each cut into one-inch pieces
3 cloves peeled garlic, sliced thinly
½ pound pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon salt
2 Teaspoons thin soy sauce
½ cup shelled cooked chestnuts
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups cooked rice


1. Drain shrimp and set them aside.
2. Heat wok, add oil and scallions and stir-fry two minutes, then remove them but not the oil from the wok.
3. Fry garlic for one minute, then add pork and stir-fry for two minutes.
4. Put this and the chestnuts in basket in a steamer, cover and steam for twenty minutes over boiling water.
5. Put this on a pre-heated serving on the rice, put any sauce on it, and serve.

Roast Pork with Gluten and Fuzzy Melon

2 peeled fuzzy melons
1 cup vegetable oil
½ pound gluten cut into small pieces
5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
1 Tablespoon fermented black beans, rinsed and chopped
1 Tablespoon shrimp paste
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ pound roast pork, cut into half-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 Tablespoon cold water


1. Rinse melon pieces, then cut each in half lengthwise, then each piece angle-cut into one-to-two inch pieces.
2.Heat wok, add oil, and when hot, deep-fry the gluten, then remove it but not the oil, with a slotted spoon.
3, Remove most of the oil, add the garlic, and stir-fry fr one minute, then add black beans, shrimp paste, salt, sugar, pork, and stir one minute, then return gluten and add the wine and half cup of water and boil for one minute.
4. Now add fuzzy melon and cornstarch mixture and stir until it thickens, then serve in a pre-heated bowl.

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