grinding sesame


Drawing: Oday Mayumi

The suribachi (mortar) is an essential implement for the shojin practitioner. Grinding sesame seeds—or gomasuri—in the early morning for making sesame tofu with mortar and pestle prepares the heart and mind for the day ahead. It is the shojin practice of meditation: kneeling in the seiza position, relaxing the muscles, breathing with awareness, and grinding in even, circular motions as the aroma of sesame rises in the air.

goma-tofuMade from ground sesame seeds and often served as an appetizer, gomadōfu (sesame tofu) is considered to be the most basic dish in shōjin ryori. The sesame seeds are soaked for a full night in cold water, then ground with precision and care for a full hour. Water and kudzu are then stirred into a paste. The mix is gently simmered over a low heat, kneaded, and then chilled to make the tofu shown below.

Implements next in importance to the suribachi are the oroshigane, a grater, and an uragoshiki or strainer.

Courtesy of Authentic Japan and Team Shojin