How to make gomasio: a sesame seed condiment for rice and veggies
Gomasio is a condiment originating from Japan which has become increasingly popular in America over the past few decades. It generally consists of sesame seeds, sea salt, and seaweed, but many people enjoy it with other added dried spices or flavors.
This sesame seed based condiment is often served in a shaker or small bowl at the dinner table for each person to use as they please. It pairs best with rice and rice dishes, but it can also be used to add rich flavor to cooked vegetable side dishes such as cooked greens or cooked winter squash.
You may find already prepared Gomasio being sold at some health food stores and online suppliment stores that carry health foods, but the flavor is better when it is freshly prepared. Find out how to prepare this tasty topping below.
The base ingredient of gomasio is sesame seeds, which can be a bit tricky to source depending on your location. General grocery stores will usually only offer small bottles of sesame seeds in the spice aisle which are not economical for making gomasio. It is suggested to seek out a Korean or Indian grocery store for freshness and bulk availability. Otherwise go to a health food store or order the seeds online from a spice distributor.
You can really use any type of sesame seed: white, brown, or black. I prefer using brown sesame seeds for their flavor. Often times I only have access to the white sesame seeds, which to me taste more suited for desserts, but the gomasio still turns out okay.
It is recommended to use sea salt in the recipe, but any salt will do.
As for seaweed, I use kelp powder which is easy to source online and economical to stock. If you prefer to use another type of seaweed, you will need to cut it into fine pieces and add it to the sesame seeds and salt after all grinding is done. In my experience, most seaweeds do not grind well and are difficult to finely chop. It is okay to use more than one type of seaweed per batch.
Note that some people are sensitive or allergic to iodine, and these people may have a reaction to eating the seaweed in gomasio. If you or anyone you are serving gomasio to have never eaten seaweed before, be sure to do a test before consuming larger portions of seaweed.
Step 1: Roasting
You can purchase sesame seeds already roasted, but your gomasio will likely taste better if you purchase the seeds raw and roast them yourself.
Heat a cast iron (or whatever available) skillet on medium low to medium heat. Coat the skillet with a thin layer of sesame seeds, and stir or flip every 30 to 45 seconds. If using white sesame seeds, they will turn a very light golden brown color when ready, but brown and black sesame seeds do not appear as browned.
You only need to lightly roast the seeds. When the sesame seed aroma becomes strong and the oils start coming out of the seeds, they should be removed from the heat, as they will cook quickly and will burn if left too long.
Step 2: Grinding the gomasio ingredients
If you have a small mortar and pestle, it can be a little difficult to grind your gomasio, but it is doable. A larger mortar set can make it much easier, and you can grind much more at once with minimum spillage.
The salt and seaweed are added before grinding. The amount to add is highly variable, and I usually don't measure, though I have made very salty batches that were less desirable.
A starting guideline for how much to use is:
- 1/2 cup roasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of powdered kelp
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
Grind ingredients until about 3/4 of the sesame seeds are ground. You can grind all of the sesame seeds if desired, but over grinding may cause it to become a little stickier and less powdery.
The salt that I use is RealSalt brand sea salt which is harvested from a mine in Utah. Other sea salts may have more or less of a salty flavor, so adapt accordingly.
Don't be surprised if the gomasio gets used up in one meal. It can be deliciously addictive, and adds a wholesome rich flavor to many foods. I usually only serve it when I have prepared rice with cooked or marinated vegetables mixed in, but it also adds an appetizing touch to baked potatoes that have been drizzled with olive oil and tamari sauce.
If you do not use all of the gomasio at once, store it in a container with a lid or a shaker that can be closed to preserve its freshness.
I once read in a book written by a late European born herbalist that sesame seeds create strong will in people. Perhaps some of the spirited Middle Eastern cultures who regularly consume them attribute some of their energetic character to this wonderful little seed.