Toasted sesame oil is one of the most versatile oils as you can see from the fact that it is a staple ingredient in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese cuisines. If you want the best results from this ingredient, here are some of the best ways to use it.
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In salad dressing
The best ways to use toasted sesame oil tend to be in dishes that are uncooked or lightly heated at most. The intense flavor of toasted sesame oil can enhance a vinaigrette by giving it the distinctive nuttiness of sesame seeds. Combine it with honey, orange juice, and soy sauce for an Asian-inspired vinaigrette. You can also drizzle it over a salad with a little lemon juice and nothing else as you would extra virgin olive oil.
As a finishing oil
The most traditional way to use toasted sesame oil is as a finishing oil for Asian dishes. This is because the oil contains compounds that have already been toasted — which accounts for the name and the flavor — it is poured on after the dish has been cooked and before it is served or at the table. Cooking it again could cause it to burn and become bitter.
Toasted sesame oil is a great addition to noodle dishes, stir-fried dishes and fried rice. It is commonly added to soups at the last minute. Classic versions of wonton soup, egg drop soup and hot and sour soup all benefit from it. Toasted sesame oil not only improves the nutritional profile and flavor in many dishes, it also provides a glossy finish to improve the dish’s appearance.
In Korea, toasted sesame oil is often served alongside grilled meats in a dipping sauce. It helps to reduce the naturally gamey flavors that you can get from lamb and pork. The classic version of bibimbap has a spoon of the oil served over the top to enhance the flavor.
Instead of using it at the end of cooking the dish, you can add it at the very start. Some kinds of toasted sesame oil make good additions to marinades and are traditionally used as such in Korean cooking. Lighter toasted sesame oils can work since they are less likely to burn. They should also be used in quick-cooking dishes.
Toasted sesame oil counteracts the aforementioned gamey taste of certain meats but can also help to keep them from drying out and to brown evenly instead of scorching.
Toasted sesame oil is used in some versions of what might be the most iconic Chinese sweet: the mooncake. It is used to give a nutty flavor to the crust. It is also used in some Vietnamese mooncakes. The nuttiness of the oil makes it a good fit for Western-style desserts. It shows up as a flavoring in ice cream and can be used as a topping for it that you pour on like chocolate syrup. Toasted sesame oil can be used in cookies and cakes. Like most seeds and nuts it pairs very well with chocolate.
The nutty toasted sesame seed flavor can work in snacks as well. Toasted sesame oil can work as a healthier butter substitute poured over freshly popped popcorn.
As a tahini substitute in hummus
If you want to make hummus but don’t have tahini on hand, you can use toasted sesame oil to get a strong burst of sesame seed flavor. It won’t give you the texture that tahini would, but your dish can still taste a lot like classic hummus.