by The Culinistas
When it comes to pantry items, everyone has their staples. We recommend adding sesame to that list. We’ve been breezing through white sesame seeds from The Spice House, and chatted with them about the origins of our favorite seed. The sesame we know and love while typically equated with Asian cuisine, originates from Africa. “African slaves brought sesame seeds to America because they were considered good luck, likely why they were called “benne” seeds, which is also how they are sometimes referred to in Southern cookbooks.”
Sesame seeds grow in oblong pods that burst open come maturity. They taste nutty, fatty, and a little sweet. “With the possible exception of Africa and Asia, where sesame is eaten more like a grain, people throughout the world value sesame primarily for the oil which is pressed from it. It is the world’s oldest oil-producing plant.” Sesame is also blended up into tahini in Middle Eastern countries, used as a crunchy coating for pastries like Chinese jian dui, and pressed into a rich oil and mixed with chilis for Japanese, rayu.
We’ve been folding the soft, supple seeds into our Banana Heath Bread and our morning oatmeal for nuance. On the savory side, they are delicious when toasted and sprinkled on roasted eggplant and olive oil braised greens. One of our most benne recipes? Cauliflower Rice with Spinach & Garlic, which relies on a healthy dose of the seeds. Keep your seeds in a cool, dry place for up to three months; however, you’ll likely go through them in a matter of weeks.
Thank you to Nadia Agsen the beautiful photo.