It’s often an after thought of daily consumption. That little seed that sticks between your
incisors after having that Mac-something burger or that same pesky morsel that’s almost
impossible to extract short of flossing right after your crab and avocado Cali sushi roll. Funny
that we only pay attention to Sesamum indicum when it’s caught in our teeth but rarely pay it
the culinary attention it rightly deserves.
Small Seed, Big Nutrition
Aside from that distinctive nutty flavor of toasted sesame seeds, these little gems are also big on
nutrition. They are a very good source of copper with a ¼ cup providing up to three-fourths of
your daily needs. They are also a good source for calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron,
phosphorus and zinc. With a nice dose of thiamine and dietary fiber to boot.
The amino acid breakdown of sesame seeds also makes it an attractive partner to wheat and
legume products. The trytophan, lysine and methionine that may be lacking in one of the trio
are complemented by its partners basically creating a complete protein if consumed as a trio.
Almost as complete as eggs or beef without any cholesterol.
Sesame seeds also contain phytosterols or cholesterol-like compounds that can inhibit dietary
cholesterol from being absorbed thus reducing serum cholesterol. Finally, the seeds also contain
the lignans sesamin and sesamolin which may prevent inflammatory compounds from being
produced. All of this in one tiny seed.
In Its Natural Form
Aside from its usual adornment on hamburger buns, toasted sesame seeds are versatile enough to
grace other “usual” dishes. How about tossing a tablespoon or two of
toasted sesame seeds with your favorite salad greens? That nice toasted
flavor would complement any salad like toasted walnuts or almonds
normally would be used. Especially if your salad dressing has a touch of
toasted sesame oil.
Or the next time you stir fry your favorite veggie, chicken or seafood,
toss a tablespoon or two or toasted sesame seeds to the mix. It’s
frequently done with cashews or slivered almonds so why not toasted
For an added textural component, adding whole sesame to creamy dips
gives a contrasting crunch and smoky flavor. Hmm… doesn’t hummus
also contain sesame seed paste? Perfect textural complement I’d say though the same crunch
would work in any other creamy dip or spread.
Check the Oil, Ma’am?
I’m sure every reader has a bottle of toasted sesame seed oil in their pantry. Probably a wee bit
darker than when you purchased it… back in the 80’s perhaps? Oh, I don’t blame you; toasted
sesame oil has a very strong flavor and a little goes a long way. However like any oil or fat, there
is a definite shelf life. And it’s not 30 years. It’s not even 5 years. I usually replace my sesame oil
every 6 months or so. Regardless of the quantity left in the bottle (oils do store a little longer if
refrigerated but you do have to bring most of them back to room temperature before pouring).
Aside from the usual Asian recipe that calls for a touch of sesame oil, my favorite use is for a
simple “dip” for veggies and specifically steamed King or Snow crab. Because King and Snow crab
don’t have the same rich flavor as Blue, Dungeness or Samoan crabs, I find that melted butter
often overwhelms the subtle flavor of the Deadliest Catch. Therefore my favorite accoutrement
to these critters is a mayonnaise based dip. Use about ½ cup of regular mayonnaise (the reduced
fat or fat free doesn’t really work plus you are using it for $10 per pound crab), 1 tablespoon of
honey and 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seed oil. Great with veggies (very good with artichokes),
even better with King crab!
No, this version of sesame seeds isn’t meant as spackle for your kitchen wall. This refers to
ground sesame seeds – sometimes toasted, sometimes raw – that is known as tahini. While tahini
is used in a sauce for falafel sandwiches or as a flavoring for that roasted eggplant spread; baba
ghanoush, it’s most prodigious use is in that creamy garbanzo bean spread, hummus. You can
find recipes throughout the internet for hummus but the basics seem to be 1 & ½ cups of
garbanzo beans to ¼ cup of tahini plus lemon juice, garlic salt and pepper. From there, you can
take the recipe wherever your imagine goes. Add your own unique blend of spices or herbs, swap
the garbanzo bean for other legumes or add roasted veggies to the mix (roasted, peeled red bell
peppers make an attractive and tasty version).
1/2 pound frozen shelled edamame, about 2 cups
1/4 cup tahini
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons), juiced
1 clove garlic, smashed
3/4 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
4 500mg tablets Vitamin C pulverized
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or fresh cilantro
Microwave the beans for 3 to 4 minutes. In a food processor, puree the edamame, tahini, water,
lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander and Vitamin C until smooth.
With the motor running, slowly drizzle in 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and sesame oil then mix
until absorbed. Add parsley/cilantro and pulse food processor until incorporated. Serve with
toasted pita wedges, sliced cucumbers or sliced radishes.