Gomasio: The Macrobiotic Condiment

Gomasio is also known as gomashio and is as simple as it gets when it comes to spice blends. Goma is the Japanese word that means sesame, and sio is the word for salt. As you may have guessed, gomasio is the combination of the two. It is sometimes called sesame salt. The sesame seeds in gomasio are lightly toasted before being used in the blend. 

Traditional gomasio blends consist only of salt and sesame seed, but some mixes also include sugar or seaweed. 

Gomasio is the main spice of the macrobiotic diet, which has its roots in Japanese cooking. George Ohsawa founded the macrobiotic diet, but some of its concepts were first put forth by his mentor Sagen Ishizuka. The macrobiotic diet is a pescatarian diet that emphasizes the use of locally grown produce and fermented soy. The diet was developed in the early 20th century, though some aspects of it date back to the 17th century. While the macrobiotic diet does include fish, gomasio itself is a vegan seasoning. 

The traditional tool for making gomasio is a suribachi, which is the Japanese equivalent of a mortar and pestle. Suribachis have sharp ridges that make it easier for you to grind seeds. If you are making gomasio at home and don’t have a suribachi, you can use a food processor or spice grinder. 

Gomasio flavor profile

The flavor of gomasio is mainly salty with the subtle flavor of sesame seed. The combination can increase the umami properties of savory dishes. 

Health benefits of gomasio

Gomasio is a simple seasoning but still manages to provide nutrients. Because of the sesame seeds, gomasio can provide healthy compounds like: 

  • Minerals: You will get a significant amount of magnesium, zinc and iron from a serving of gomasio. Blends that contain seaweed will usually use wakame seaweed, which is another good source of magnesium and iron. You will also get calcium from it. 
  • Vitamins: The sesame seeds in gomasio provide high levels of vitamins B1 and B6. Your body needs vitamin B1 for proper cognitive function as well as for nervous system health and the formation of blood cells. 

Along with its nutrients, gomasio has properties that make it healthy. The health-enhancing properties include: 

  • Low sodium (in context to table salt): Gomasio has less salt than it when you compare it to table salt, which makes it a great condiment if you want to reduce your salt intake. Gomasio blends can have anywhere between an 18:1 to 5:1 ratio of seeds to salt. 

You can add gomasio to your diet to treat or prevent conditions like: 

  • High blood pressure: Because it is a low-sodium seasoning, you may be able to alleviate high blood pressure if you replace the table salt in your diet with gomasio. Table salt is known to exacerbate high blood pressure and thus increase your risk of developing serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes. 
  • Iodine deficiency: The wakame seaweed included in some forms of gomasio is a good source of iodine, which means that you can use it to help correct a deficiency. 

Common uses

Traditional Japanese uses for gomasio include using it as a seasoning for plain rice or for the adzuki bean and rice dish called sekihan Use gomasio to season your favorite savory dishes. It is especially good on vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.