Spirulina Gomasio

Gomasio à la Spiruline

[Spirulina Gomasio]

I’m always happy to try new and intriguing food. It’s a hit-or-miss kind of habit and I have on occasion bought things that turned out to be nasty (in that ugh-nasty-nasty-bleh-spit-spit kind of way), but it’s all in the name of science and research, yes?

My organic grocery store in particular seems very much aware of that penchant of mine, and regularly puts out displays to subtly direct my attention towards this or that product. I generally steer clear of the things that are too obviously targeted at the health-food nut, because they often cease to look and feel like real food to me. But I recently let one such display convince me.

I bought a little bag of spirulina gomasio, something I had never ever heard of before.

A little explanation is probably in order. Gomasio, you ask? It is sesame salt, prepared by grinding sea salt with grilled sesame seeds, thus producing a nutty-tasting and nutrient-rich condiment, much used in Japan. And the name comes from “goma” — Japanese for sesame.

What about spirulina? Spirulina is an algae of blue-green color, exceptionally rich in vegetable protein. In fact, it is the most protein-rich whole food that scientists know of (and no, protein-shakes don’t count). It’s been consumed for centuries — Aztecs used to harvest it from a now obliterated lake in the spot where Mexico city is built. The algae has a cute spiral spring shape when you look at it through a microscope, hence the name.

It is apparently chock-full of everything you could possibly want, vitamins, minerals (including the much sought-after iron), phytonutrients and anti-oxydants, and the culture of spirulin is thought to be a possible way to fight malnutrition, in Africa in particular. Some people also say it has fabulous therapeutic virtues for a number of diseases, but research is still under way to back up any of these claims.

In the meantime, this is one tasty condiment: it has a lovely taste that could best be described as a hazelnut from the sea, with both nut and seaweed flavors. The texture is also very unusual, it is a sort of powdery flakey moss. The package suggests using it to season pasta, rice and salads, but so far I have simply used it — and loved it — on raw crunchy veggies, carrots and radishes.

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  • Gomasio is truly excellent on rice, so I would imagine it would pep up almost any fairly mild, starchy food. One of my favorite meals was a simple okonomiyaki, along with rice and gomasio.

  • lisa

    Hmmm…wonder if they have this at Whole Foods?

  • mihoko

    hello,clotilde! it’s my first time to comment on.
    today i was so surprised to see the words “gomasio”, because it’s too simple & not so special seasoning in my country japan. but i could find new aspects of it, thank you!

    one of the typical way to eat gomasio is sprinkling it on “sekihan”
    sekihan is traditional rice menu (rice boiled with red bean), and japanese people eat it on festive time in house.
    if you’ve already known them, i’m sorry…

    your blog can go in all directions about foods! it’s the interest point, i think. and i feel so much of your love to foods or cooking etc.
    i’m enjoying your blog very much!
    thank you!!


  • Laurent

    World and food are decidedly everyday more and more fascinating : products that look exotic for some of us seem quite usual to others.

    As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t know anything about Gomasio before reading your blog. So thanks for making me wiser and promoting products and cuisine the way you do.

  • melinda

    How is it packaged?

  • Dear Melinda,

    The brand I know is packaged in a plasticized aluminum bag with a ziplock-style closure. It will lose its flavor if left exposed to air and light. I have also seen it packaged in clear bottles, which to my knowledge is not ideal.

    Cheers, Damon

  • Jazz

    Bonjour Clotide,

    Est-ce que vous pouvez me dire où je peux en acheter à Paris? Il est où, ce fameux organic grocery store dont vous parlez..? :)

  • Melinda – Mine came in a clear plastic bag (no ziplock though!). Since this was inconvenient I transferred half of it into a pretty jar with a lid, and I just use a spoon to scoop some out like I would sugar.

    Jazz – The magic store is Naturalia, and the one I go to is on rue Lamartine in the 9th!

  • corey

    Hello Clotilde,

    In my town health food is really catching on so its really easy to find spirulina in everything. Most notably are several fruit drinks made with peaches, bannanas, pears, and all sorts of things mixed with blue-green algae. Though they can look kinda scary they are usually yummy. Do you find that the spirulina lends much taste or just a subtle earthy “greeness”?

  • savina

    hello clotilde
    if you ever find yourself craving for gomasio and having run out of your supply you can always make it yourself by roasting sesame seeds and crushing them with your (beautiful, famous) pestle and mortar together with cooking salt. You will miss the super therapeutic effect of spirulin, but you will still have a very good seasoning for your salads (I always make some in batches and keep it stored in a jar)

  • mire

    i usually make my own gomasio with roasted nori flakes, it may not be as healthy as spiruline but it does taste of hazlenut from the sea ;-P

  • Peter

    I only encountered spirulina once so far – in Sweden there’s a brand that sells all kinds of freshly-squeezed (eller färskpressad :)) juices. One of them has spirulina in it. I must say that it is not the most inviting drink ever, since the algae tend to precipitate and form a greenish slur (yikes!) at the bottom. The taste is somewhere between moss and spinach..

  • This may be the answer to a question which has been bugging me since my japanese meal on Monday night. I had some sushi which was one of those reverse sushi pieces (with the nori inside and the rice outside) and the rice outside had been rolled in this green, nutty, salty mixture. It was so tasty and with the inclusion of tempura crab in the centre… it was most tasty sushi I’ve had in some time. I wonder if this is the mixture??

  • Bev

    Saffron— Could you be speaking of Furikake? It has all of the properties you describe!

  • kijimuna

    I’m assuming we are talking about GomaSHio? Sometimes things get misspelled in translation but end up meaning something anyway.

    You’ve got to try Okinawan Shio (salt), it’s powdery fine and fluffy and is chock full of healthy minerals because it is harvested out of our beautiful coral-studded ocean. Right now the mainlanders (mainland Japanese) have turned our little treasure into a huge marketing thing, touting it’s health effects. But in it’s simplicity, it’s a wonderful seasoning to use in any dish. If you can find it where you are, please try it :-)

    Saffron: Must be furikake…I don’t think they would put salt on the outside of sushi – well, normally…

  • My grandma used to puree spirulina and flaxseed oil with molasses and make me drink it. She said it was good for energy. It wasn’t. That picture brings back a lot of bad memories…

  • Well even better! I got some answers. I am going to go back and buy soem sushi from this japanese restuarant so that I can taste the flavours again. Maybe Ill take a pic so that moret detective work can be done…

  • Hi,
    This sounds great and very tasty. Does anyone know if this is available in the UK?

  • Anand

    There are times that one reads something on the internet and one just KNOWS that it was written by a kindred spirit. I refer to: …”I have on occasion bought things that turned out to be nasty (in that ugh-nasty-nasty-bleh-spit-spit kind of way)” I just love that! And your recipes! Thank you!

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