Open sesame indeed! This last SpiceChat was bursting with ideas and recipes for cooking with sesame seeds like a mature sesame pod bursting open and spreading seeds far and wide. Read on for inspiring ways to sprinkle, coat, cook and blend these seeds into the food you cook.
About Sesame Seeds
Sesame Seeds might be the oldest condiment known to man. Originating in Africa and India, usage dates back as far back as 3,000 BC. The small flat oval seeds of the Sesamum indicum plant have a subtle pleasant nutty flavor. The seeds have a high oil content and can go rancid, so unless they will be used within a few weeks it’s a good idea to refrigerate them. Because of their high oil content they were one of the first seeds to be used for an edible oil. Interestingly, compared to many oils sesame oil is fairly resistant to rancidity.
Unhulled sesame seeds are black, brown or red/golden. Once hulled, they are creamy white with a more distinctive aroma, but less crunch due to the lack of the hull. The seeds are rich in calcium, copper & magnesium and contain dietary fiber. Sesame seeds and oil have been associated with many health benefits such as helping to reduce symptoms of high blood pressure, high cholesterol & heart disease. Like peanuts however, some people are allergic to them.
The phrase open sesame,made popular by the movie Arabian Nights, refers to the fact that the seeds burst out of their pods upon maturity. Though ingenious from a species self preservation perspective, it’s rather frustrating and expensive from a farmer’s perspective. Until recently sesame seeds had to be hand harvested because of this, but a new variety of plants has been developed to prevent the exuberant bursting open of the pods, so now an entire field can be harvested at once using the same equipment that is used to harvest other crops like wheat. Here’s an interesting video on the sesame seed industry that’s sprouting up right here in America’s heartland.
SpiceChat Prize Winners
@Callingindead and @KarineVarga were the lucky recipients of a TableFare SpiceCare Starter Kit to keep their spice collection perfectly organized.
@PurpleHouseDirt and @Vagablonde515 won an assortment of My Spice Sage spices including, of course sesame seeds.
Flavor and Aroma of Sesame Seeds
SpiceChatters described the seeds as having a nice earthy aroma with a texture that is both creamy and crunchy. A nutty richness is the dominate flavor with hints of sweetness, bitterness, and woodiness. There was overwhelming enthusiasm for the rich nutty flavor that develops once the seeds are toasted.
Black sesame seeds have almost same flavor as white, with a bit more sharpness and more crunch since they still have the hull. They can, however, become a bit bitter when toasted.
Toasting Sesame Seeds
To toast sesame seeds, place in dry skillet over medium low heat and shake the pan or stir the seeds until they take on a light golden color. If you have a large quantity of seeds to toast, it’s easier to do in the oven. Place them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
So Many Ways to Use Sesame Seeds
The sesame seed conversation generated a multitude of ideas on incorporating these nutty gems into all sorts of recipes.
Hummus and tahini
This was a crowd favorite right out of the gate with many tweeters chiming in pledging love and affection for hummus and tahini.
I LIVE on hummus, it’s one of my food groups. – @nomnivorous http://j.mp/iCWdtT
There’s nothing much better than tahini dip! – @marocmama
@SimplyImprssve inquired as to whether anyone had made tahini. @nomnivorous’ experience with homemade tahini is that it requires patients to achieve a creamy consistency. From a little Google research it seems there is a consensus that a very powerful Vita Mix type blender is required to achieve the creamy texture of commercial tahini which is made simply from ground sesame seeds. Though many recipes online include added oil to aid in blending.
Here is a link to some interesting recipes with tahini! – @MySpiceSage
From sushi, noodle salads, and stir frys to fried sesame balls; Asian cuisine is probably the first thing to come to mind at the mention of sesame seeds.
I use sesame seeds on Asian dishes. – @marocmama
Sushi is always better with sesame seeds. – @KARINEVARGA
I love toasted sesame seeds in cucumber sushi – just not the same without them! @RJFlamingo
I like to make Asian noodles with cucumber, carrots, onions and lots of sesame seeds. – @SimplyImprssve
Pan-Fried Sesame Noodles & Broccoli. – @Judimaeny
Korean Chap Chae! This recipe from @allrecipes is great. – @callingindead
I use them in fried rice. – @Tweettropolis
My go-to stir-fry: Heat peanut oil & sesame oil, then finish with sesame seeds at the end. -@RJFlamingo
Goma-ae, a Japanese side dish of blanched spinach and sesame sauce, is a favorite. – @callingindead
Sesame oil & are seeds tasty on egg rolls & in egg drop soup! @GoodCookDoris
Sesame Seeds are wonderful on Chicken Wings here’s a great recipe from @bflay for Chipotle-Honey-Glazed Chicken Wings with Toasted Sesame Seeds. - @MySpiceSage
I love them sprinkled on top of Asian chicken wings. – @SimplyImprssve
I like sesame seeds on baked chicken wings that have been marinated in sesame oil. -@deeCuisine
It surprised me the first time I saw sesame seeds used in Mexican cuisine, but they are, check out this Chicken Mole. - @TableFare
Cook fresh green beans al dente & toss w toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds & salt. Delish! - @TableFare
Cucumbers, green onions, snap peas, sesame oil, rice vinegar, heavy duty sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. @nomnivorous
Spinch+mushrooms+ sesame seeds and bacon. - @nuria_sm
I like to add fresh Asparagus when in season and a splash of sesame oil to this Spinach Gomaae recipe. – @callingindead
Stir toasted sesame seeds and ground nori along with a touch of salt into plain yogurt. Serve on cucumber rounds or with veggies to dip. – @TableFare
Kale Chips turned into Kale-Sesame Seasoning. – @DirtandMartinis
Put a few drops of sesame oil in the rice cooking water (long grain, basmati or jasmine). So aromatic & tasty! – @RJFlamingo
Sesame crusted seared tuna. Say no more! – @MySpiceSage
Sesame Crusted Fish Sticks look like what fish sticks should be! – @TableFare
Condiments and garnishes
I use sesame seeds mostly as a sprinkle. @SimplyImprssve
Ground sesame seeds make a nice garnish sprinkled over fruit smoothies. – @KARINEVARGA
Furikake is a Japanese condiment that I just love and it’s easy to make at home with sesame seeds, nori, and course sea salt! Yum! – @callingindead
I love black sesame gomasio! A salty, crunchy topping that’s great on rice, salads, anything you want to add a bit of nutty flavor to. – @nomnivorous
The popular Japanese spice blend shichimi togarashi or 7-spice powder has sesame seeds in it. It’s commonly used as a garnish and is great on noodles. – @TableFare
Sesame Seeds are a favorite when toasted in butter and put on a fresh salad! – @amishhome
Sesame Seeds are a natural for green salads & fruit salads. – @MySpiceSage
I like to mix honey with plain yogurt for a fruit salad dressing, then sprinkle with sesame seeds. So good! – @RJFlamingo
I like Sesame Chicken salad in the summer. – @WildOrchids09
Sesame Vinaigrette is great on a spinach salad.- @MySpiceSage
@raminganeshram mentions using toasted sesame seeds in a mango salad in her novel Stir It Up. Yum! -@SpiceBites
@PurpleHouseDirt posed the question of the day. “There has to be some culture that uses sesame seeds as a basis for soup, not just a garnish. Ideas?”
Sure enough, there are sesame seed soups out there and they look like they are worth trying. @Judimaeny shared this Greek Sesame Soup recipe made with sesame paste, which is simply toasted white sesame seeds, also known as tahini. A different take on sesame soup is this Korean Chicken Sesame Seed Soup. Then there’s a Chinese Black Sesame Soup (Sesame Tong Shui) that falls into the dessert category and looks very intriguing. It even comes with the rumor that it prevents grey hair!
Spices, Herbs & Flavors That Pair Well with Sesame Seeds
Nutty sesame is a nice complement to oregano and thyme. – @MySpiceSage
Sesame seeds and honey, most definitely. – @nomnivorous
Vanilla and sesame are delicious. Add the seeds to basic butter cookies flavored with vanilla. -@TableFare
Warm flavored spices (allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) all work well with sesame. – @TableFare
I like teriyaki or balsamic vinegar with sesame seeds. – @ WildOrchids09
Sesame seeds are essential in the Middle Eastern spice blend zaatar. - @MySpiceSage
Mix up the popular Japanese condiment goma shio. 2 tsp. each black & white sesame seeds plus 1 tsp. salt. – @TableFare
Mix with nuts like slivered almonds, sunflower seeds and Sesame Seeds. – @amishhome
Spark up the mild flavor of sesame with your favorite chile! – @MySpiceSage
Sesame seeds are a great garnish for any meat seasoned with Asian flavors. – @TableFare
Ginger, garlic and hot pepper are great with sesame in Asian dishes. – @KyraTX
Sesame seeds are a natural with garlic, soy sauce, lemon & ginger – great with Asian cuisine. – @TableFare
Coriander, fennel, & poppy seeds go well w sesame as beautiful garnish on breads crackers & rolls. – @TableFare
Delectable Baked Goods & Desserts Featuring Sesame Seeds
Breads, bagels & granola
I like sesame seeds on bagels and on buns. – @WildOrchids09
I love them on top of bread. – @Tweettropolis
I sprinkle them on my challah and other breads after eggwash & before baking. They get toasty & give the crust extra crunch. – @RJFlamingo
My favorite topping for Challa Bread is sesame. This recipe is from @finecooking. – @TableFare
Bread isn’t ready without sesame seeds. – @SimplyImprssve
I love baked lemon muffins with sesame seeds on top. - @mom4everandever
Has anyone had luck baking their own Sesame Crackers at home? These are gluten free. – @callingindead
I make my own granola and love putting sesame seeds into the mix. – @CreativCulinary
I add sesame seeds to my Blueberry Ginger Granola. – @TableFare
One day I will make granola bars with Sesame seeds. – @KARINEVARGA
I have powdered black sesame seeds and will use it to make French macarons. – @thedailypalette
Black sesame seeds make Lace Cookies visually stunning. – @MySpiceSage
Chbakiya are hands down the best cookies, if you have the time and patience. – @marocmama
These Sesame Fruit & Nut Bars are packed with flavor & protein! – @ MySpiceSage
Benne Wafers are my mom’s favorite cookie to make. So pretty! Here’s a recipe from @SimplyRecipes @ TableFare
I seriously could snack on sesame seed brittle forever! @nella22
Has anyone made Vietnamese Sesame Candy (Keo Me Xung )? It looks as simple as caramel. – @PurpleHouseDirt
I’d love to learn jto make Vietnamese sesame candy and something like Joyva’s sesame candy. So addictive! – @RJFlamingo
Honey sesame candies were a favorite as a kid. We’d get them as a treat when shopping at the produce stand. – @TableFare
I grew up gnawing on those chewy sesame rectangles in clear wrappers! – @nomnivorous
Yes! OMG – I love to just let them dissolve in my mouth. The toasty sesame & sweet together. – @RJFlamingo
I grew up eating the hard sesame candy too! – @KARINEVARGA
I’ve been wanting to make Chee Ma Jian Duy, fried sesame balls filled with ground black sesame pudding. – @PurpleHouseDirt
I’ve never had the black sesame filling. What’s it like? – @RJFlamingo
It tastes like halva puree. So good! – @TableFare
I have a Jian Duy recipe on my blog, but I haven’t tried filling it yet. – @PurpleHouseDirt
These Chocolate-Filled Sesame Balls looks so good! – @TableFare
There is a Moroccan dish famous during Ramadan called Sellou that uses lots of sesame seeds This recipe is from @moroccan_food. - @marocmama
It’s a very unique flavor – Moroccans eat it after fasting. – @marocmama
It has good calories and nutrients for a boost after fasting all day – moms are given it after childbirth too. – @ marocmama
The best halvah I ever had was a Pistachio halvah in Monterey, California on the wharf made by two Middle Eastern gentlemen. – @Judimaeny
A long time ago, I had a Turkish baklava. I’d swear it had sesame seeds on the pastry. I could be wrong, but it stuck in my brain. – @ Judimaeny
Éclairs topped with caramel and black sesame are my favorite. - @ nuria_sm
I love the sound of this, Fig & Sesame Tart with Cardamom Orange Cream! – @TableFare
Toasted Sesame Seed Honey Ice Cream is my new favorite flavor to make!. It’s so creamy & good! – @TableFare
Black Sesame Ice Cream anyone? – @callingindead
Faith’s Honey Ice cream with Fig Sesame Jam Swirls sounds pretty amazing. – @TableFare
I wonder how toasted sesame seeds would taste on key lime gelato? It sounds good. – @ mom4everandever
SpiceChat is regularly scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month, but this next one has been bumped out a week and will be on September 14th. Differnt week, but same time, 4-5 p.m. ET. I hope you will drop in and share a recipe or tip for using bay leaves. Here are all the details about SpiceChat.