Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sesame Oil Flavor for a Salad by Toasting Hulled Sesame Seeds

(this 10-oz bottle sells for $5.53 on Amazon)


I was making a favorite Asian chicken and noodle salad for dinner last night and realized that I've been out of sesame oil for eons. At $4 or so for a small bottle, sesame oil has not been on my active shopping list since the early 2000s. It adds so much flavor to this salad, though, so I knew I'd be sad without that extra depth of flavor. To get that same sesame oil flavor I toasted hulled sesame seeds in a dry skillet until golden brown.


1/4 cup of toasted sesames added just the amount of flavor that I wanted for a family-size bowl of salad.

I was also out of green onions.



This time of year, my chive plants produce an abundance of blossoms. In addition to making flavored vinegar with the blossoms, I also add pulled apart blossoms to salads, soups and to top casseroles, for a little oniony flavor.


I don't know if you ever buy sesame oil, or if you happen across a recipe which calls for it. You can get a similar taste from toasting your own sesame seeds.  I buy sesame seeds in 1-lb bags for about $3 per pound. Sesame seeds keep in the freezer for a very long time, BTW.

8 comments:

  1. Good to know! Sesame oil is definitely pricey. I do use it, in small quantities. Learned a trick in a cookbook Family Feasts for $75 a Week a few years back to use half sesame oil with half other mild tasting oil (I use light olive) to add the flavor for less. Or add just a little to a marinade. I actually used it yesterday to make a bit of fried rice for my lunch. Had done a big batch of brown rice in the Instant Pot on Sunday for use this week (busy week due to VBS at our church). Will have to give the seeds a whirl in some recipes.

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    1. Hi Cat,
      Yes, I've found that, too, that I can get enough flavor with less of the oil. I like a little of the oil added to broth-y chicken soups. It only takes a small amount per bowl to really add good flavor. I do like the toasted sesame seeds in salad for adding flavor, too.

      Have a great day, Cat!

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  2. I LOVE sesame oil. Just a little bit adds so much flavor. Good to know about the sesame seeds! I hate going to the store for one expensive ingredient. Thanks for the tip on green onions also. Do the blossoms keep in the fridge for any length of time or have you tried freezing them?

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    1. Hi Ruthie,
      I love that it only takes a small amount to add flavor. Even so, at $5 for a small bottle, it's not on my shopping list right now. Some day, again, I hope. But the toasted sesame seeds also add a lot of flavor. The blossoms only keep for about a week to 10 days in a covered containers. I've never frozen them, but that is a great idea! With the blossoms that I picked yesterday, part went into the salad, part went into a jar filled with vinegar, and the other part are in the fridge to use as onions for today and tomorrow. I'll cut some more later this week. I hate to take them away from the bees, all at once. Great suggestion on freezing the blossoms. I bet they would freeze well, and be useful in sauces and soups, later.
      Have a great day, Ruthie!

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  3. Hi, Lili--

    Your Asian noodle salad looks delicious! I'll be right over to help finish up the leftovers! LOL

    This is a great post, especially for folks who don't make Asian food a lot. I love sesame seeds in any form, but toasting does give them a totally different flavor, which makes all the difference in the finished flavor of your dish.

    The toasting is an important difference to remember in buying sesame oil, as well, if you will buy it. Cold-pressed sesame oil is very light and tasty for salads and things, and preferred for raw food diets. But if you want the richest sesame flavor for Chinese and Korean food, you need to look for toasted sesame oil.

    The price of sesame oil IS off-putting, but we have family recipes that really benefit from it. Our strategy about it is to buy a big can rather than a small bottle. The initial outlay is a bit higher, but the per-ounce cost is phenomenally better.

    The best thing about it is that we've kept it for literally years in the fridge! So while a traditional Asian recipe might use up a third or half of your little bottle, it barely makes a dent in the can. Seems like when I used to use the bottles I never came out "even" on recipes. I had just a tiny bit left, not enough for the next recipe, or I was just short of what I needed. So, I either had to go short, run to the store to buy another little bottle, or pad out with toasted seeds if I had those. It seemed like a real hassle, and I stopped using it for a while before I found I could buy it by the can.

    We just ran out recently,finally, so thanks for reminding me to put it on my shopping list for the restaurant supply store. ;)

    And great timing, too, on mentioning chive blossoms. Our DS has blooming chives, and I've been meaning to suggest he use both the flowers and the leaves for his cooking.

    Have a great day, Lili! Sara

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    1. Hi Sara,
      you are so right about the difference in taste the toasting gives the seeds. I don't think I've ever bought toasted sesame oil. I don't think Cash & Carry has the toasted oil. Do you buy yours at an Asian market? Have you ever toasted plain sesame oil? I'll look around for the toasted oil, and price it. That stuff is expensive in the small bottles.
      I hope your son can use the chive blossoms. They add such nice flavor and color to salads and soups.
      I hope your day is off to a great start, Sara!

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    2. Hi, Lili--
      Sorry to be late answering your question. Busy day yesterday!
      If the sesame oil you're using is brown and thick, it's toasted sesame oil. If it's light and clear, it's pressed. The flavor is a lot different.
      I buy the big cans of sesame oil at Smart & Final in the Asian section. I'm sure you can get it at an Asian market, but I don't know which would be cheaper. The brand we get comes in a pretty gold can. :)
      It's been so long since I bought my last can, I have no idea what I paid. If I get to the city and buy more, I'll let you know my price. It would be an investment to buy the can, but as I said, I've never had it go bad if refrigerated, even years when I've not been using it much.
      Take care! Sara

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  4. That is good information to know, Lili. In fact Dr. Fuhrman recommends toasting your seeds before adding them to salads. I do have a small bottle on hand that I use for special occasions. You're right it can be expensive. I used some earlier today in a vegetable stir fry as it adds so much flavor. Your salad is beautiful!

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