Gomashio – Japanese Sesame Seed and Salt Condiment – Recipe

Brown rice with broccoli and gomashio, hoisin glazed tofu; in the back, a suribachi

I first learned about gomashio when my Mom was on a macrobiotic diet. The diet never stuck with me, but gomashio is simple and delicious whether or not it has any special healing powers.

What is gomashio (also spelled gomasio)? Simply toasted unhulled sesame seeds ground with sea salt in about a 10:1 ratio. It is typically used as a table condiment though there is no reason the cook can't apply it as a garnish as well.

I love gomashio on those simple, fortifying meals of say brown rice and carefully steamed vegetables, maybe a little tofu, and a cup of miso soup. It is also good on edamame, and it is used on a classic dish of sticky rice with adzuki beans. I could even see it working in a dessert, like when we use salt with caramel.

How you make gomashio depends on whether you believe that the traditional method produces superior results or somehow invests it with the aforementioned healing powers, or you just enjoy doing things the slow way (which I completely support). So I'll give you both options: The traditional method requires a suribachi (Japanese ridged ceramic mortar and pestle), pictured above. Or you can simply bust out a spice grinder and be done in seconds.

You must be absolutely sure that your sesame seeds aren't rancid. They contain a lot of oil, so it isn't hard for them to go off. If you can't tell from a whiff of the whole seeds, it should be quite apparent when you grind them. If they are even a tiny bit rancid, throw them out and go get a new bag from a co-op or other place where they will have high turnover of bulk products.

Once made, gomashio will last a couple of weeks at room temperature.

Gomashio – Sesame Seed and Salt Condiment
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Yields about 1/2 cup

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons unhulled raw sesame seeds
  1. Heat a medium-sized skillet on a medium-low flame.
  2. Add the salt and toast for 3 minutes – who knows if this does anything, but it is traditional. You might see it turn gray.
  3. Remove the salt and add the sesame seeds. Toast, turning frequently until fragrant and a few shades darker. You will hear some popping. Be sure and keep the heat low enough to avoid any burning. If you burn them, throw them out, wipe the pan clean and start over.
  4. Grind the salt and sesame seeds together in a suribachi (Japanese mortar and pestle) or a spice grinder. I like it fairly fluffy but with some seeds that are not completely powdered.
  5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature and offer as a table condiment.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Thursday, March 25th, 2010 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Sauces and Condiments, Vegan or Modifiable.

11 Responses to “Gomashio – Japanese Sesame Seed and Salt Condiment – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    March 25, 2010 at 8:43 am #

    Beautiful photo, Michael!

  2. Reply
    March 25, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Good! I never thought of making gomashio, but now I will, thank you!


  3. Reply
    March 25, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    i haven’t thought about gomashio or my mom’s suribachi in a long time! now i think in need to get both!! thanks, as always michael for a terrific post!

  4. Reply
    March 26, 2010 at 5:09 am #

    I adore gomashio! It’s obviously great with Asian food, but we like to use it as a substitute for salt to season a variety of other cuisines as well.

  5. Reply
    March 26, 2010 at 5:35 am #

    A great way to add good flavor to any dish.

  6. Reply
    March 26, 2010 at 8:53 am #

    I’m going to have to try this, as I love sesame seeds, especially in cookies. I bet the gomashio would add a beguiling flavor to most any savory dish.

  7. Reply
    March 28, 2010 at 7:45 pm #

    This reminds me of one of my favorite, easy-to-make meals when I don’t want anything fancy: rice, veggies, a fried egg, and kecap manis. Next time I’ll substitute gomashio for the sweet n’ salty kecap manis.

  8. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    March 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

    @janna – funny you mention that, because I almost glazed the tofu with kecap manis instead of hoisin… love that stuff.

  9. Reply
    March 30, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    Oddly enough, I’ve been meaning to make this for a long time. I had better get on it!

  10. Reply
    May 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    If someone sat that dish from the picture in front of me it would be GONE in mere seconds. 🙂 I haven’t worked with tofu much at all; how do you make the hoisin glazed tofu??

  11. Reply
    April 28, 2013 at 2:48 am #

    Recipe worked really well, I noticed the store bought ones here in Australia all have MSG in it so was pleased that it is so easy to DIY

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