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Gomadashi / fish sesame paste

I first encountered the expression gomadashi on a website introducing regional udon specialties. It is a paste made of grilled fish, sesame seeds, soy sauce and sweetener. The paste’s name does not intuitively convey how tasty it is. It is typically served with udon wheat noodles. It is also good with rice and as an addition to a number of dips and dressings. When making the paste, grilling the fish takes the longest, and once it is done, the paste should keep in the fridge for a relatively long time — 4 weeks when made with regular soy sauce is what people say, so probably 2+ weeks with the reduced sodium version below.

1 tbsp (20g):
56 calories; 3.8 g protein; 3.4 g fat; 2.8 g carbohydrate; 2.0 g net carbs; 190 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce & shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 5 mg cholesterol; 0.8 g fiber

Whole recipe (approx. 170g):
476 calories; 32.5 g protein; 28.8 g fat; 23.7 g carbohydrate; 16.7 g net carbs; 1,601 mg sodium (with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce & shoyukoji made with 50% reduced-sodium soy sauce); 42 mg cholesterol; 7.0 g fiber


(Enough for 4 servings of gomadashi udon)
50 g grilled rock cod
2 niboshi sardines
1/2 hoshi-shiitake dried shiitake mushroom
20 g toasted white sesame seeds
30 g tahini sesame paste
20 g shoyukoji soy sauce rice malt
45 g (2 1/2 tbsp) soy sauce
2 tsp kurozu brown rice vinegar
2 tsp sake


Toast sesame seeds on medium low to low heat until fragrant.


In the meantime, remove heads and bellies of niboshi, and microwave for 10 seconds, removing and flipping once in the middle, until aromatic.

Finely chop niboshi and dried shiitake.


Grind sesame seeds in suribachi mortar until moist.

Add grilled fish and shoyukoji, and grind.

When sesame seeds, fish and shoyukoji are well incorporated, transfer to frying pan (using the same frying pan for toasting sesame seeds, in photo).


Add soy sauce to suribachi, get all possible remaining sesame seeds, fish and shoyukoji in grooves, and pour to frying pan.

Repeat with kurozu and sake.


Add niboshi, dried shiitake and tahini.  

Mix, and cook for 10+ minutes on medium low to low heat.


  • Niboshi dried young sardines and hoshi-shiitake are added to enhance umami of the paste.
  • Kurozu and shoyukoji are to partially replace soy sauce in order to lower overall sodium content. Shoyukoji also works as a sweetener in this recipe.
  • If you want to choose only one between sesame seeds and tahini, go with sesame seeds for both rich taste and a different texture rather than a simply smooth paste, and choose tahini for quicker preparation and very smooth texture. 
  • Using equal amounts (by weight) of sesame seeds and fish or fewer sesame seeds seems to be the standard proportion.

  • Fresh fish tips work great with this recipe. 
  • For the above, I grilled approx. 295 g rock cod tips (with bones and some skin; photo at upper right) for 35 minutes at 430F/220C, which yielded 170 g after grilling (excluding fat pooled on foil; photo at lower right) and 151 g with skin and bones removed.
  • Instead of a paste consistency, some people make gomadashi as a thick sauce by adding more soy sauce (or using less fish). As with all home cooking, adjust the proportion of ingredients to match your taste and usage.
  • Cooking the mixture of all ingredients at the end is optional when serving immediately (or within 1-2 days).
  • Gomadashi was originally something locals made at home with eso [lizardfish], a white-fleshed fish with lots of small bones, in Oita Prefecture. Saiki City on the coast is particularly known for its gomadashi, and the paste is now Saiki’s specialty, and bottled products with different types of fish are available nationwide.

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