My simple Japanese Sesame Sauce (Goma Dare) is creamy, flavorful, and savory. This rich and nutty sauce combines toasted white sesame paste, dashi, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Use it as a dipping sauce for shabu shabu Japanese hot pot or try it with steamed vegetables, cold or hot tofu, green salad, and somen or udon noodles. The possibilities are endless!
Japanese Sesame Sauce, or Goma Dare (胡麻だれ), is a versatile condiment used for dipping, dressing, or seasoning. It’s mostly known as one of the dipping sauces when you enjoy a Japanese hot pot, Shabu Shabu.
Today, we make this sauce from scratch, with just a few ingredients.
Table of Contents
What is Goma Dare?
Pronounced as [Goh-mah Dah-Leh], this creamy and flavorful sauce is made with Japanese sesame paste, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and dashi (Japanese soup stock).
Goma (胡麻, ごま) means sesame seeds and Dare or Tare (たれ) means sauce in Japanese.
Besides Shabu Shabu, this sauce goes really well with various dishes, and we’ll talk about it later in the post.
How to Make Sesame Sauce
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Japanese sesame paste (nerigoma) – More about it below.
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar – Try to use rice vinegar as it’s a lot milder than other kinds of vinegar.
- Dashi (Japanese soup stock) – You can make it from scratch (Kombu + Bonito Dashi or Vegan Dashi) or use a quick and easy Dashi Packet (I used this method for this recipe). You can also make dashi using water and Dashi Powder.
Overview: Cooking Steps
- All you need to do is to mix everything. I recommend mixing the sesame paste and sugar first and making sure the sugar is completely dissolved before adding any liquid ingredients.
- Then, add the soy sauce and rice vinegar, followed by the dashi.
- Taste it and adjust it with salt.
What is Nerigoma (Japanese Sesame Paste)?
Nerigoma (ねりごま) is a Japanese sesame paste made by grinding whole toasted white sesame seeds into a paste. It is rich, creamy, and flavorful, and it’s similar to nut butter like peanut butter. There are both white sesame and black sesame pastes, so make sure to choose the white sesame paste for this recipe.
You can find nerigoma on Amazon (here and here) or in Japanese grocery stores.
You can also get Chinese sesame paste (zhī ma jiàng, 芝麻酱) from Asian grocery stores. I have never tried it yet, but I assume it’s similar to the Japanese variety.
And there is a Meditteranean sesame paste called tahini. You can get this at most American grocery stores. It is similar yet not quite the same as the Japanese variety in terms of texture and taste. Tahini is made from hulled, raw sesame seeds, which is why it’s lighter in color and less flavorful.
I assume everyone will be using a different type of sesame paste for this recipe, so please adjust the amount of the sesame paste of your choice.
- Mix the sesame paste REALLY well. This is a very important step before measuring your sesame paste. The paste separates from the oil while stored in the jar, so mix it all up then scoop the paste.
- Reduce the amount of the same paste if you’re using a homemade version. Your homemade sesame paste is very rich, flavorful, and thick, so you don’t need as much as store-bought sesame paste or tahini. Some high-end sesame paste brands also offer a thick paste, so adjust accordingly.
- You need enough liquid to make a smooth sesame sauce. While you’re gradually adding liquid to the sesame paste, you will see the paste starts to solidify, like when chocolate seizes (read this article). Don’t panic. If you add more liquid, it will become smooth again.
- To make a really good sesame sauce, use high-quality sesame paste (or make a homemade version!), make a strong, concentrated dashi, and use just the right amount of salt to bring out the flavors as increasing the amount of soy sauce will make the sauce darker.
Delicious Ways to Use Goma Dare
I make this homemade sesame sauce for Shabu Shabu, but this rich and nutty sauce goes well with all kinds of food! If the sauce is too thick for a dish, you can dilute the sauce with dashi. Add more rice vinegar to make it a refreshing salad dressing!
- Shabu Shabu
- Steamed Vegetables – asparagus, potatoes, cabbage, carrot… endless choices!
- Cold Tofu or Hot Tofu
- Homemade Udon Noodles
- Somen Noodles
Wish to learn more about Japanese cooking? Sign up for our free newsletter to receive cooking tips & recipe updates! And stay in touch with me on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.
How To Make Sesame Sauce (Goma Dare)
- 3–4 Tbsp Japanese sesame paste (neri goma) (use less for Homemade Sesame Paste or a thick sesame paste like Wadaman brand; use more for a thin and smooth sesame paste like Kadoya brand or tahini; you can make my Homemade Sesame Paste)
- 4 tsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- 2 Tbsp dashi (Japanese soup stock) (I used a quick and easy dashi packet for this; a strong, concentrated dashi makes a more flavorful and delicious sauce)
- ⅛ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
Before You Start…
- If you're here for the old version of my Sesame Sauce recipe, please see the Note. However, I highly recommend you trying this revised recipe.
- Gather all the ingredients. Please note that one batch yields ½ cup (120 ml), roughly 2 servings as a dipping sauce for Shabu Shabu. If you also serve Ponzu dipping sauce alongside this sauce, then you may have enough for 4 servings.
- Mix your sesame paste really, really well before you measure it, as the oil tends to separate in the jar. Then, measure the sesame paste and add it to a small bowl. I used my Homemade Sesame Paste and it's a thick consistency, so I measured 3 Tbsp for one batch. Tip: Use a silicone spatula to scrape it off the measuring spoon so you can measure it precisely.
- Next, add the sugar and mix well until it is completely dissolved.
- Then, add the soy sauce and rice vinegar and mix together. Did your sesame paste clump up? If your paste is different from mine, this may happen. Don't worry; we'll fix it in the next step. Tip: According to this article, sesame paste is full of carbohydrate molecules that are drawn to the liquid you add. This produces clumps and thickens the paste. The paste will continue to clump and thicken as you gradually stir in more liquid. Once you add enough liquid, though, the sauce eventually will thin out and become smooth.
- Gradually add the dashi to the mixture, drizzling in a little bit at a time. Blend in the dashi completely before adding more. Tip: Why gradually? It's extremely hard to blend the thin liquid into the thick paste. It's easier to combine when you introduce the liquid slowly.
- Repeat, adding a bit of the dashi and stirring to combine before adding more. Once you've blended in all the dashi, the consistency of the sauce should be smooth and liquid but still thick.
- Taste the sauce. Add the salt to taste and stir to combine. You also could add more soy sauce if you wish (this will make the sauce darker). Your Sesame Sauce is now ready to use.
When Using Thin Sesame Paste or Tahini…
- Here, I made the sesame sauce using Kadoya brand sesame paste to share how it differs from using homemade paste. You can see that the sauce is much lighter in color. This paste is also thinner, similar to tahini, so I used 4 Tbsp of sesame paste for one batch of this sesame sauce.
- Use this homemade sesame sauce as a dipping sauce for Shabu Shabu. This rich and nutty sauce goes well with all kinds of food, including Steamed Vegetables, Cold Tofu or Hot Tofu, Homemade Udon Noodles, and Somen Noodles. If the sauce is too thick for a dish, you can dilute it with more dashi. Add more rice vinegar to make it a refreshing salad dressing!
- You can keep the sauce in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 2, 2011. It’s been updated with new images and content and the revised recipe in March 2023.