I came across a recipe I wanted to try this weekend and one of the ingredients was wakame gomasio. I had no idea what this was. Even more mysteriously, the recipe had an alternative – sesame seeds. What kind of exotic fancypants ingredient with a name like that can be substituted simply with sesame seeds?
So I looked it up. It took me a while to find out what it was and how to make it, but now I know I thought I’d share it. Plus it’s super delicious so I think it’s worth knowing about!
Gomasio (which is also spelled gomashio) is basically a mix of toasted ground sesame seeds and salt. It’s a Japanese condiment that’s also popular in macrobiotic diets (something I don’t know a lot about). Sesame seeds are high in calcium, iron, magnesium and B vitamins (full nutritional information here).
Wakame is a sea vegetable that has been grown by Japanese and Korean sea farmers for centuries. It is an edible seaweed that is high in iodine, calcium and B vitamins (full nutritional information here). It’s also high in sodium so has a salty taste. My local health food store sells this in bulk (plastic-free!).
So wakame gomasio is wakame and gomasio. Fairly straightforward really!
How to make wakame gomasio
The hardest thing is probably finding the wakame, although I found it in several local health food stores. You could also try the Japanese section of your grocery store or online. It looks like this:
1 piece wakame (when ground should be roughly equal to 1 tbsp)
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 tsp salt
Toast the wakame in an oven at 160°C for 10 minutes until dry and crisp.
Meanwhile, in a pan heat the sesame seeds on the lowest heat for 5-10 mins, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the seeds have changed colour from pale to golden. Try to remove them from the heat before they start to pop; if they do begin to pop remove from the heat immediately.
Add all the ingredients to a grinder or mortar and pestle, and grind until you have a coarse powder.
You can change the quantities of salt and wakame as you wish. If you aren’t using wakame, ratios of sesame seeds:salt can vary from 5:1 (found in commercially available varieties) to 18:1 for traditional Japanese gomasio. If you are using wakame, ratios for sesame seeds:wakame vary with 8:1 being an average. Start with this and adjust to find the combination that you like.
What to do with it
It’s a healthier alternative to salt, and it smells and tastes amazing. In Japan it’s used to season rice. The recipe I used it for was pastry. Feel free to try it whichever way you wish!