My friend Mika introduced me to this traditional delicacy enjoyed by Japanese monks, and I’ve been utterly addicted since my first euphoric taste. This chilled sensation is made with sesame (goma) instead of soy. I’ve served this to ardent tofu haters and they have begged on their knees for just one more bite. In Japanese monasteries, the junior monks grind the sesame seeds by hand so the older monks can get their fix. But who has time for that? I use a pure roasted, unsalted tahini or a plain sesame paste (just ground sesame seeds) from a Japanese grocer. This is then blended with kuzu-root powder and a seaweed broth called kombu dashi that is easy to make but requires an hour.
The sesame flavor is the star in this tofu, and sauces can overwhelm it, so plain old tamari and wasabi are my go- to accompaniments for ultimate pleasure. To cook the tofu, you must stir the mixture continuously with the patience of a monk because it can turn on a dime and burn. It takes some work, but is so worth it. I love it so much I may consider being reincarnated as a monk but a senior one. I don’t want to grind all those seeds!
- Yield: 6 as a starter, or if you're greedy lime me 4!
- 2 teaspoons wasabi powder mixed with 2 teaspoons water to form a paste
- 2 teaspoons wheat-free tamari, soy sauce, or Bragg liquid aminos
- Clean (don’t wash) the kombu with a damp cloth and immerse it in 3 cups (720 ml) water. Let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Remove the kombu and save to use in a salad or other dish. Make sure the kuzu-root powder is pulverized and stir it into 1 cup (240 ml) of the kombu broth until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into your blender. Add the tahini, salt, and another 1½ cups (360 ml) of kombu broth. Blend for about 30 seconds on medium, until smooth. Select your tofu mold. I use silicone ice cube trays for uniform chilling, easy unmolding, and beautiful presentation. A shallow, glass baking dish also works. Wet your mold with cold water to keep the tofu from sticking.
- Pour the blend into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon. After 1 or 2 minutes, the mixture will rapidly turn, thickening visibly. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir. Large bubbles will start to form. Keep stirring vigorously for 10 to 12 minutes, until the mixture has the texture of custard and coats the spoon thickly. Don’t let the mixture stick to the bottom of the pan or burn.
- ill a large, shallow baking dish with very cold water and some ice cubes. Pour the mixture into your mold and smooth out the surface with a small spoon or spatula. It will start to set immediately, so work quickly. Place the molds into the ice water to set. (Don’t place the mixture in the fridge or it will set too rapidly.) When the ice in the water bath melts, replace it. You may have to do this a second time. After about 40 minutes, the ice cubes will stop melting so rapidly. That’s how you know it’s ready. Once the gomadofu is completely set, cut it into squares (if you’re using a large mold) or invert the ice cube tray on a plate and gently pop out the cubes.
- To serve, set each square of tofu in a bowl topped with a tiny piece of wasabi paste and drizzle on ¼ teaspoon of tamari.