Goma Dofu: How to Enjoy Japanese Sesame Tofu
“Tofu (豆腐)” is a processed soy product known as an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine. The soybean curd is commonly used in miso soup, a staple of the Japanese diet, so we eat it almost every day.
Today, tofu is widely enjoyed in many countries around the world, but have you ever heard that in Japan there are foods very similar to tofu in appearance and texture with the word tofu included in their names?
Among those, “Goma Dofu (胡麻豆腐)”, together with Tamago Dofu, is most commonly eaten and is known as one of the vegetarian foods for Buddhist monks called “Shojin Ryori (精進料理)”.
Goma Dofu (胡麻豆腐: Sesame Tofu)
As, in the name of Goma Dofu, “Goma (胡麻)” means sesame in Japanese, the tofu-like food is often referred to as sesame tofu in English-speaking countries.
Although sesame tofu includes the word tofu in its name, the food is made from ground sesame seeds and kudzu (arrowroot) starch and actually doesn’t contain soybeans at all.
Goma Dofu is a common food widely enjoyed in Japan and can be bought in supermarkets around the country. In terms of the production area, Nara and Wakayama Prefectures are especially famous for their sesame tofu.
In fact, Goma Dofu makes up an indispensable part of the Shojin Ryori served at Buddhist temples on Mt. Koya, Wakayama. The mountain is a holy site of the Shingon sect of Buddhism which was inscribed as World Heritage Site of Unesco in 2004.
As with the ones of Nara and Wakayaka, the Goma Dofu produced and sold around the “Eiheiji (永平寺)” temple in Eiheiji Town, Fukui also has an established reputation. Eiheiji is one of the headquarter temples of the Soto Zen sect, by the way.
How to Eat
Goma Dofu is eaten in different ways from ordinary soybean tofu, and the followings are the basic ways of eating sesame tofu favored by many of us Japanese.
As a Side Dish
Goma Dofu is usually eaten on its own and is not used in other dishes, because it has a distinctive strong flavor from the contained sesame oil. When eating, like cold tofu, it is typically dressed with soy sauce and garnished with wasabi.
As a Dessert
Image: FC2 Blog
By dousing it with “Kuromitsu (黒蜜)” black syrup or honey, and dusting with “Kinako (きな粉)” roasted soybean flour, you can enjoy Goma Dofu as a dessert, which is something like Bavarian cream.
With Sweet Miso
Goma Dofu pairs perfectly with sweet miso too (e.g. a mixture of miso and mirin). The miso topped sesame tofu is something like a cross between dish and dessert.
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 胡麻豆腐 )