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Food Monster - Features

Ingredient Spotlight: Gomasio, The Low-Sodium Japanese Seasoning Blend

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Are you someone who loves the salty, oceanic flavor of seaweed as well as the comforting, toasty aroma of sesame seeds? If so, gomasio might just be the perfect dry condiment for you to try. Not only does it make an interesting and low-sodium swap for plain old table salt, but the dynamic and harmonious flavors in gomasio add just a touch of extra nutrition and a whole lot of rich flavor to whatever dish you decide to sprinkle it on top of.

What is Gomasio?

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Gomasio is a Japanese seasoning blend whose name translates to “sesame salt”, and that’s exactly what it is: a dry condiment that is made from unhulled sesame seeds and salt. Flavor-wise, it is actually similar to furikake, which is another Japanese seasoning blend made from bonito (dried fish flakes). Gomasio, on the other hand, is 100 percent vegan and is often sprinkled over staples such as plain rice or onigiri.

What Are Gomasio’s Nutritional Benefits?

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If you are someone who wants to eat flavorful food (who doesn’t?) but is also trying to follow a low-sodium diet, Gomasio is a great condiment to reach for at the dinner table, because its ratio of sesame seeds to salt is typically between 5:1 and 18:1. In Gomasio, sesame seeds are roasted and then their oil is released; that oil then coats the salt and amplifies its flavor. Many people consider Gomasio to be a staple part of a macrobiotic diet, which is founded upon a belief that whole grains, beans, fermented foods, and vegetables nourish humans best.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are an essential ingredient in Gomasio. They are infused with all sorts of vital minerals including copper, manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. They’re also a good source of vitamin B1.

Wakame

While there are many types of nutritious seaweeds out there, Gomasio often uses wakame, a dark blue, almost black variety that is rich in protein, magnesium, chlorophyll, iron, calcium, and zinc

Make Your Own Gomasio

MandriaPix/Shutterstock

Making gomasio is actually super simple; all you’ll need are three ingredients — seaweed, salt, and sesame seeds! If you don’t want to include seaweed, this recipe uses 2 cups of raw sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of Celtic sea salt, although you can adjust the ratio of sesame seeds and salt to your taste preferences.

To make the gomasio, simply place one strip of kombu seaweed in a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the salt, stirring the mix. Once the salt turns a grayish color, remove your seaweed, cool it slightly, crumble it up into little pieces, and add back into the skillet. Then, add in all of your sesame seeds and roast them for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir your sesame seeds often enough to prevent them from burning. They’re done when the seeds turn golden brown.

Next, place your aromatic and toasty sesame seeds with your salt and seaweed in mortar and pestle or small food processor, and then grind them together until they form a coarse meal.

Finally, transfer your completed gomasio into a glass container, and store in a cool, dry place for up to a month. Do not refrigerate your Gomasio; that will cause the mix to spoil faster.

How to Use Gomasio

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Gomasio pretty much pairs with everything you would use seasoning blends on. You could sprinkle it on top of popcorn to jazz it up or toss it into any veggie stir-fry that you think could use a blast of some umami deliciousness. In particular, we want to recommend sprinkling it over this Spicy Black Pepper Tofu stir-fry. We think Gomasio would pair so well with the tofu, which is sautéed with shallots, fresh chili peppers, a healthy amount of garlic and ginger.

A common way to use gomasio in Japan is by sprinkling it on sekihan, which is a traditional Japenese dish of sticky rice steamed with adzuki beans. We think it would also pair very well with these gluten-free Glutinous Rice Balls.

If you’re interested in finding some more amazing vegan seasoning recipes, then we highly suggest check out this Ultimate Spice Guide for Vegan Cooking to get you started. For those on the hunt for more international condiments and seasoning blends, we also love this guide to 10 Essential International Spices For Any Kitchen.

For more, we recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!

Lead image source: MandriaPix/Shutterstock

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