Goma dofu (sesame tofu), a dish in shojin ryori, is a specialty of Fukui. Goma in goma dofu means sesame. Dofu means tofu, which is a well-known food made from soybeans.
What is shojin ryori ?
Shojin ryori is a type of Buddhist cuisine that contains mainly vegetables and grains. It doesn’t contain any meat or fish. Strict Buddhist monks have compassion for all living things, so they don’t eat meat or fish.
Shojin in shojin ryori means engaging in Buddhist training, and ryori means cuisine.
Eiheiji Temple in Fukui was built over 750 years ago. It’s a Zen temple with a long history and is still important today. (Zen is a form of Buddhism.)
Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, was very interested in Zen. He’d once thought of going to Eiheiji Temple in Fukui to become a Zen monk.
In 2018, about half a million people visited Eiheiji Temple.
The essential principles of Zen are transcendental wisdom and compassion.
At Eiheiji Temple in Fukui, the monks eat shojin ryori every day. Since goma dofu is a part of shojin ryori, it has become a specialty of Fukui.
Goma dofu has three characteristics:
- It’s the poster child of shojin ryori.
- It isn’t tofu.
- There are different kinds.
Goma dofu is one of the most important dishes of shojin ryori.
The name goma dofu contains the word dofu or tofu. However, goma dofu is different from normal tofu. The ingredients of goma dofu are sesame, water and kuzuko (kuzu root powder), while the main ingredient of tofu is soybeans.
There are different kinds of goma dofu: shiro goma dofu (white sesame tofu), kuro goma dofu (black sesame tofu) and shiro kin goma dofu (white and gold sesame tofu).
Why is sesame used in goma dofu?
Shojin ryori does not involve the use of any animal protein, such as fish or meat. Because of this, sesame is used in goma dofu as an important source of protein for the monks.
I bought three different kinds of goma dofu at a shopping center called Happiring and ate them later at home.
First, I had shiro goma dofu (white sesame tofu). It had an elastic texture that was interesting. When I first took a bite, the flavor of the white sesame filled my mouth.
Next, I ate kuro goma dofu (black sesame tofu). It also had an elastic texture and was fun to eat. The flavor of the black sesame was rich and thick. I also enjoyed its beautiful black color.
Finally, I ate shiro kin goma dofu (white and gold sesame tofu). It had an elegant taste. However, the texture wasn’t as elastic as the other two goma dofu. Eating the gold sesame made me feel like I was eating something precious.
All three goma dofu types were slightly sweet and tasted like a dessert. I think children as well as adults would enjoy them.
Where can you buy goma dofu?
Where can you eat goma dofu?
You can eat it at the Fukubukuchaya (福福茶屋) restaurant in Happiring and at restaurants around Eiheiji Temple, such as Sachiya (幸家), Dansuke (團助) and Inoue (井上).
If you come to Zen Village in Fukui, be sure to eat goma dofu and experience the spirit of Zen.